City Mayor Meg Kelly Delivers State of The City Address
Parking Garage • City Hall Opens • Firehouse • Green Belt
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Accompanied by the members of the City Council and city supervisors, Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly on Jan. 28 led the annual State of The City address.
Kelly referenced challenges faced during last year’s SOTC address, the status of those challenges, and city goals in the new year.
“At that time, we were facing the results of the lightning strike of 2018 - an extraordinary event that tested us - took us out of the safety and comfort of our workplace and moved us into a gym,” Mayor Kelly said, recalling the results of a mid-August storm which caused extensive fire and water damage to City Hall. The building housed they city’s government and its court system. Workers were relocated to the Vanderbilt Avenue recreation center, and the city court to Lincoln Baths – quarters where each have remained since.
“This year, we are facing a more positive challenge: a smooth return to a repaired City Hall that has been renovated to meet the needs of city government in the year 2020.” City departments have notified the Department of Public Works that they would be prepared to move back into the building at the end of February.
“We plan to begin our transition back into City Hall at the end of next month,” reported Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco, whose department spearheaded the renovation and restoration of the near 150-year-old building. A final price tag is not yet known, but previous estimates placed the renovation/restoration costs at just over $11 million, and an anticipation that the city would recover $4 to $5 million of those costs via insurance.
The “new” City Hall will feature upgraded plumbing and electrical, an HVAC system providing temperature controls throughout the building, the installation of lightning protection to ensure such a strike never happens again, and realized energy efficiencies with LED lighting and the removal of window air conditioning units, Scirocco said.
Additionally, the Music Hall will be preserved and enhanced and once again host events, and in its renovation project the city satisfied the state mandate for a second hearing room and adequate court space for a second full-time City Court judge.
With the recreation center used to house city business throughout 2019, the Recreation Department responded to the loss of its space by fostering relationships with the YMCA, Saratoga Springs Schools, St. Clements School, Spa Catholic High School and Gavin Park in Wilton to regroup and reestablish programs for children and adults, Mayor Kelly said. “Hats off and endless thanks to the employees of the City of Saratoga Springs.”
Highlighted achievements during 2019 and plans for 2020:
• The East Side Fire Station, currently slated to be sited on Henning Rd., is closer to realization than any time in recent history.
• The Geyser Road Trail project, idling since 2008, is ready for groundbreaking. The resolution of Lawsuits that had stalled have been resolved, allowing the project to move forward. The planning department led the work to secure the funding, complete the bidding process, and prepare the contract for its construction.
• The Code Blue emergency homeless shelter has found a new temporary home on Adelphi Street, where it will be sited for two years. Through strong working relationships among city, county and Shelters of Saratoga (S.O.S.) leaders, Mayor Kelly said: “We expect long-term solutions to homelessness to be built upon these relationships.”
• The development of the City Center Parking Structure and Flat Rock Centre is underway.
• As part of the Uniform Development Ordinance (UDO), the city is updating the zoning ordinance to be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2015. The draft UDO was recently presented to the City Council and was the focus of three public workshops. “This is another very important project that will continue into 2020,” Kelly said.
• Workforce Housing: The city facilitated the purchase of two workforce housing units through the city’s Workforce Housing Program. Regarding affordable housing, the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority broke ground on The Promenade affordable housing project at Stonequist. The project includes 63 affordable housing units – 18 townhouses, and 45 apartments; Pre-construction efforts on two new buildings with 24 units of affordable housing at the Jefferson Street Terraces are underway; A project on the west side - called Intrada - includes 158 affordable housing units, as well as over 10 acres for public recreation. Two of the four Intrada buildings were completed.
• Saratoga Collaborative to End Homelessness: Staff and public officials will participate in both the design and leadership teams during the first 100-day “sprint cycle” of the Saratoga Collaborative to End Homelessness. The project is spearheaded by Shelters of Saratoga and Presbyterian New England Congregational Church. During this sprint cycle, specific solutions will be designed, tested, and implemented.
• In 2019, the Building Department reports there was a 12% increase in permit applications compared to the previous year, with 16% more permits issued. Inspectors performed 2,410 inspections in 2019, an annual increase of 9% over 2018.
• On Jan. 21, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled his 2020-2021 Executive Budget. Among the items listed, Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) aid for the city of Saratoga Springs has been eliminated. In 2020, the city anticipated receiving $2.3 in VLT aid revenue, which equates to 5% of the city’s general operating budget. As a goal, the city aims to have that aid restored.
• This year, the Canfield Casino in Congress Park will celebrate its 150th anniversary. DPW is planning a celebration of the milestone. The City Historian announced it will present a program on April 29 titled: Convention Hall 1893 – 1965. The program, part of a new series called “Rec Talks,” is designed to encourage members of the community to share their Convention Hall stories
• Newly elected Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton reported the police department is currently staffed with 74 sworn police officers, including three recent academy graduates and four recruits in the current academy, and five sergeants currently deployed on military duty. The police department employs 17 civilian employees, including 11 dispatchers, three Parking Enforcement Officers - two of whom are also Animal Control Officers, and 2 employees for records management. The police department responded to 29,394 calls for service in 2019; The Saratoga Springs Fire Department is staffed with 64 firefighters who provide both fire and EMS response services for the city. Last year the fire department received 3,670 emergency medical calls and responded to 67 fires.
• 2020 marks the start of a four-year, $4.2 million water infrastructure improvement plan to upgrade undersized water mains; the replacement of four and six-inch mains with eight-inch water mains will improve water delivery to the public. DPW will also undertake significant upgrades to the Water Treatment Plant this year. A planned water treatment intake valve replacement project will replace 3, circa 1800’s intake valves, bringing water from Loughberry Lake into the plant. A section of the intake lines and an overflow structure from approximately the 1870s will also be replaced. This replacement project represents a $2.3 million investment.
• At the county level, construction will continue on a new public safety facility in the town of Milton near the jail, to expand administrative space for the Sheriff’s Office, as well as to move the probation and Public Health departments to that space. Regarding VLT aid, the county stands to lose about $775,000 in revenue, and plans to bring a full board resolution to its February meeting to advocate for the funds.