SARATOGA SPRINGS – Inside City Hall Tuesday night, council members took their chamber room seats behind newly installed COVID-precautionary glass, where they voiced their opinions about decisions that will have long-reaching effects for the residents of Saratoga Springs, and points beyond.
Just outside of City Hall meanwhile, police made several arrests that stemmed from an investigation following protest-related activities that occurred in Saratoga Springs in July.
Four people were charged Sept. 7 in connection with the investigation. A fifth person is facing multiple misdemeanor charges following an alleged altercation with an officer outside City Hall.
According to a statement released by Saratoga Springs Police Department Wednesday afternoon, the July 14 protest that started in Congress Park spilled into the streets and interfered with traffic, resulting in motorists stuck inside their vehicles.
“This included one motorist who suffered from a heart condition, which was openly shared with protestors blocking his vehicle in. After learning of these added details regarding this protest, Chief (Shane) Crooks ordered that an investigation be conducted and that those identified be charged and held accountable, where appropriate,” according to the statement.
Subsequent to the investigation, arrest warrants were obtained on Aug. 31, and arrests made Sept. 7. They include: Samira K. Sangare, 23, of Halfmoon, Chandler M. Hickenbottom, 25, of Ballston Spa, and Molly B. Dunn, 44, of Saratoga Springs, each charged with disorderly conduct: obstructing traffic, a violation. Dunn was additionally charged with unlawful imprisonment in the second-degree, a misdemeanor.
Alexis A. Figuereo, 34, of Saratoga Springs, was charged with disorderly conduct violation, and two misdemeanor counts of obstructing governmental administration - the latter charges in connection with Figuereo’s alleged disruption of Saratoga Springs City Council meetings on July 6 and July 20, according to police.
Police said the charges from July 14 allege “the protestors not only obstructed traffic, but by doing so they prohibited the movements of those on Broadway by Phila Street for many minutes. One of these people was the individual with the medical condition noted above.”
According to court documents, a voluntary witness whose name was redacted in court records provided police with a statement dated Aug. 12 that read, in part, that the July 14 protest resulted in halting vehicle traffic. “They had the traffic stopped for about 15 minutes before they let the cars go. At one point while I was stopped, one of the protesters thanked me for waiting…I have never been in a situation like that. I was surprised it was happening in Saratoga.”
Gabrielle C. Elliot, 27, of Ballston Spa, was charged Sept. 7 with attempted assault, resisting arrest, and endangering the welfare of a child. All three charges are misdemeanors. While officers were affecting warrant arrests Tuesday night, Elliot is accused of throwing and striking a uniformed officer with a full water bottle who was involved in the arrests. When informed she was under arrest, Elliott refused to comply and pulled away from officers, according to police, and grabbed on to the stroller where her small child was seated until she was taken into custody. Police said “the child was fine and sent with another family member at the scene.”
“The Saratoga Springs Police Department recognizes the right to peacefully and lawfully protest but many of the acts committed on July 14 are not only unlawful acts, but they placed the protestors and the public in harm’s way,” Chief Crooks said, in a statement. Police subsequently reported the additional arrests of Alexander C. Patterson, age 26, of Clifton Park, and Jamaica M. Miles, age 46, of Schenectady, in connection with alleged actions that took place on Broadway by Phila Street on July 14. They were each charged with Disorderly Conduct: Obstructing Traffic violation, and Unlawful Imprisonment misdemeanor. .
Saratoga Springs City Council adopted a variety of measures Tuesday night. They included:
• The council approved the sale of a city-owned property located at the southeast corner of Caroline Street and Henry Street to Frank J. Izzo, of Ballston Spa, for $801,000. Adjacent to the public library and currently used for surface parking, the city has owned the parcel since the early 1980s. It consists of approximately 7,344 square feet or 0.17 acres. A recent appraisal set the property value at $500,000. The $801,000 bid by Izzo was the only bid submitted. The closing is anticipated to take place within 60 days.
• The council unanimously approved a bond resolution regarding the proposed East Side Fire/ EMS station on Henning Road. The City Council plans to finance the total cost by the issuance of serial bonds of the city in an amount not to exceed $6.7 million.
“We are ready to bond, we are ready to build, we still need to work on the employment model,” Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said. Since bonds will not be publicly sold until next June, a bond anticipation note is being secured to cover any costs needed until a bond is obtained.
• The city approved “a jumpstart investment” by moving to grant $250,000 to the Saratoga Springs City Center “One of its prime revenues is hotel occupancy tax, bringing in about $1.2 million for the City Center. As you know our occupancy tax (due to COVID) has dropped significantly,” Madigan said. “They find themselves in a serious cash flow deficit and are working through this…I do see them as too big to fail which is why we have this on the agenda.”
• The council unanimously approved the 2022-2027 Capital Budget. The six-year plan is flexible and may be altered as the council sees fit. The six-year plan currently counts 26 projects at a total cost of approximately $6.5 million, with the Loughberry Lake Dam – at a cost of $1.275 million, at the top of the committee-ranked project list.
• Outlook – 2022 Budget. Approximately $57.65 million in requested general operating fund expenses. “While 2021 revenues continue to improve (and) 2022 projections are very strong, matching the $57.65 million in expenses remains beyond our current outlook,” Madigan said. The 2022 Comprehensive Budget will be presented at the Oct. 5 City Council meeting.
• UDO. A fourth and final workshop was recently conducted to review opinions from the county and city Planning Boards, the public, and the Design Review Commission, pertaining to the proposed Unified Development Ordinance, or UDO.
A UDO is a tool combining traditional zoning and subdivision regulations, along with other development standards for items such as design guidelines, storm water management, and signs and street standards into one, easy-to-read reference document.
The council announced this week the next steps regarding the UDO. They include: Inputting the most recent changes and creating a “final-final” version for public released at the next City Council meeting, on Sept. 21; Hosting Public Hearings regarding the document on Oct. 5 and Oct. 19, with an anticipated vote to adopt the UDO on Nov. 16.
• Saratoga County Public Health Services department is holding free community COVID-19 vaccination clinics 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10 of the Pfizer Second and Third Dose Vaccine at Saratoga County Public Safety Building, 6012 County Farm Road, Ballston Spa, and 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11 of the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine at Healthy Living Market at the Wilton Mall, 3065 NY-50. The vaccines are free. No proof of insurance required. Pre-registration is required only for third dose clinics. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines administered by Saratoga County Public Health Services, call 518-584-7460 Extension 8327 or visit the Public Health’s COVID-19 webpage at www.saratogacountyny.gov.