Friday, 21 October 2016 10:12

Notes From City Hall: Code Blue Heading to Caroline

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Emergency Shelter Relocation To Caroline Street Appears Set

After spending the past two winters at the Salvation Army building on Woodlawn Avenue, programming conflicts brought on by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order mandating that shelters stay open for longer hours necessitated that Code Blue Saratoga find a new location to house its emergency shelter. More than two dozen potential venues were investigated by Shelters of Saratoga – the agency which oversees Code Blue - before Soul Saving Station in September agreed to allow the shelter to operate at its facility on Caroline and Henry streets from Nov. 1 to April 1, 2017.

Some local business-owners and home-owners located in the Caroline Street area where the shelter would be relocated subsequently voiced concerns regarding safety issues and increased costs and urged the Salvation Army to reconsider and host Code Blue for a third year. The extended hours mandated for shelter use, however, caused the Salvation Army last winter to close its after-school program for at-risk youth – which has operated for 20 years - and affected more than two dozen children, according to a person close to the organization. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release that information late Wednesday night.

Due to the loss of core programming last winter and the continued loss of programming that would occur in the future, the person said the housing of the Code Blue shelter at the Salvation Army was always meant to be a temporary solution, but that the Salvation Army continues working with Code Blue to assist in other ways, such as offering the use of shower facilities and providing breakfast for the homeless population. The emergency shelter is slated to open Nov. 1 and appears be headed for the Caroline Street location.

A community forum regarding Code Blue Saratoga’s 2016-17 season will be held at noon Tuesday, Oct. 25 at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, 49 Henry St. The forum will include “an overview of the Code Blue Saratoga program and its policies, followed by a facilitated discussion regarding the upcoming season,” according to a statement released by the organization Friday. 

 

 

Should the council hold public hearings on whether it is in favor, or opposed to Saratoga Springs hosting the gun show?

That’s what one local resident is suggesting. “What I think the City Council needs to do, is take this issue seriously,” local resident David Bronner told council members this week, during the public comment section of the council meeting. “Craft a resolution about the gun show and how you feel about it. Hold public hearings on it, debate it, and vote on it.”

After organizing more than 100 gun shows at the Saratoga Springs City Center over the past 32 years, show promoter David Petronis was informed last summer that the venue would not have any open dates to host the show in the near future, because a greater priority had been placed on securing conference and convention business. Last year, the City Center hosted 75 conferences and conventions, 48 special events or banquets, and 31 gate or trade shows, such as the gun fair. All of these events combined had an attendance of 155,000 people. The City Center’s management officially is independent of city government and to date, the City Council has not officially debated the issue.

A Plan For Going Wireless

A short video was screened and a 70-page booklet distributed at City Hall this week showcasing Saratoga Springs’ Smart City Roadmap. Among the initiatives: a plan to deliver wireless broadband in public spaces to keep residents as well as visitors connected. The Smart City Project Team meets quarterly and Michele Madigan, city representative of the Smart City team, said the commission will begin to tackle plan initiatives in 2017. The roadmap was also posted on the city’s website and may be viewed by visiting: http://www.saratoga-springs.org/DocumentCenter/View/5157.

Public: Protect Character Of Existing Neighborhoods

A zoning diagnostic report was presented to the City Council Tuesday night. The report indicates a strong public desire to protect the character of existing neighborhoods, an enthusiasm to preserve historic structures and an expressed concern over the commercialization of residential neighborhoods. A copy of the October 18 presentation of the Zoning Diagnostic Report may be viewed by visiting: https://saratogaspringsudo.com/.

Budget Hearings

The first of two public hearings regarding the city’s proposed 2017 Comprehensive Budget was staged Tuesday night. No one from the public chose to address the council regarding the spending plan, which may be viewed at: http://www.saratoga-springs.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/5059. The second public hearing will be held Tuesday, Nov. 1 prior to the 7 p.m. City Council meeting.

Complete Streets

Mayor Joanne Yepsen announced the draft copy of the city’s Complete Streets Plan is available for public review at: http://www.saratogaspringscompletestreets.com/. The goal of the plan is to improve safety, connectivity, and accessibility for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit users in city neighborhoods, by incorporating the needs of all modes of transportation.

Zombie Properties

Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen announced the city was awarded a $150,000 grant from the state Attorney General to address vacant and “zombie” properties. The remediation and prevention initiative will include the hiring of a part-time officer and the department will use a multi-tiered approach to identify vacant properties that owe taxes and those that are in disrepair, and issue citations to enforce measures.

Overriding The Tax Cap

The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors this week decided to delay a vote on whether to override the 2 percent property tax cap in 2017. Only two area residents addressed the board during Tuesday’s meeting in Ballston Spa. The vote is expected to take place next month, said city Supervisor Matthew Veitch.

Upcoming Meetings

The Zoning Board of Appeals will host a meeting 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24 at City Hall. The Charter Review Commission will host a meeting 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25 at City Hall. The Planning Board will host a meeting 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 at City Hall. The pre-meeting workshop will take place 5 p.m. Monday.

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