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SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Tuesday, October 29, Saratoga Springs Assistant Chief John Catone announced that there is a person or persons of interest in the ongoing investigation of the fire which occurred on July 28 at 106-108 Woodlawn Avenue.
No arrests have been made at this point, although officials have said that they believe that the fire was arson. Within a day after the fire, police had executed a search warrant for a home in the town of Wilton.
On Tuesday, police said that the ongoing investigation revealed that the fire had multiple points of origin and flammable liquids had been found at the scene.
Though no arrests have been made, Catone characterized that as a matter of evidence falling into place.
“If we wanted to go out make an arrest we could do that, our ultimate goal is to put the person or people responsible in prison,” he said.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The first of two League of Women Voters (LWV) sponsored candidate forums at the Saratoga Springs High School Auditorium took place on Tuesday, October 22.
While the candidates articulated policy differences, the proceedings were notable for their civility and lack of rancor. This was due in large part to the firm oversight of the debate by LWV’s Barbara Thomas, who did make both the candidates and audience members adhere to strict time limits. This is notable in contrast to previous year’s candidate forums about city elections.
After a brief introduction of the ground rules by Thomas, unopposed finance commissioner candidate Michele Madigan (D, I, WF) took the podium for a statement about her accomplishments in office and vision for her next term.
This was followed by the candidates for commissioner of public works, in which incumbent Anthony “Skip” Scirocco (R,C) and challenger William J. McTygue (D, I, WF) sat side-by-side.
McTygue took issue with Scirocco’s record, citing in particular a deal to sell water to Wilton without full council approval and called for a total citywide evaluation of water resources, saying that “there is no long range water quality plan”.
Scirocco noted his accomplishments in office citing a “reversal of a generation of infrastructure neglect.”
Interestingly, these were the only candidates of the evening who were asked about Proposition 1—the pending statewide casino proposition. Both were generally in agreement that they were personally opposed to casinos, but noting if it passed the city would have to be ready for changes regardless of whether Saratoga Springs was designated as a casino site or not.
The candidates for commissioner of public safety easily had the most points of policy difference of the evening.
In his opening statement, challenger Richard C. Wirth (R, I, C) characterized the administration of incumbent Christian E. Mathiesen (D, WF) as “too Caroline Street focused while there is an uptick in crime citywide” and an atmosphere of “blame the victim” prevailed. Mathiesen responded vigorously, listing many accomplishments during his administration, both as leader of his department and on initiatives that were citywide in nature.
The candidates differed sharply on their plans for improving the fire/emergency response times on the city’s eastern plateau, as well as the need for an independent review of the recent police incident regarding Darryl Mount, Jr.
The differences between candidates for commissioner were less pronounced. Incumbent John P. Franck (D,I,WF), who is running for his fifth term, cited his “core four” platform as the guiding principles that characterized how he has and would run his office. Challenger John P. Arpei (R, C) did not directly challenge Franck on anything specific, but did say he was an advocate for more civility and cooperation in the conduct of city government.
Indeed, the accounts commissioner candidates agreed totally on two major issues. Both felt that a citywide reassessment was unnecessary and too costly, and that the current assessment level for condominiums (about 30 percent of assessed value) was too low. Franck cited his initiative in going to Saratoga County to try and develop a political coalition to change this formula. Arpei stated that the formula was imposed by downstate interests, where condos are more prevalent and therefore would be very unlikely to change.
SARATOGA SPRINGS—At the last Saratoga Springs City Council meeting on Tuesday, October 15, something happened for the first time since I started covering these proceedings in 2009.
I walked out early. At 11 p.m.
I’ve always considered it a point of pride to stay on until the end of these meetings, because sometimes I might pick up an item that grows into a story after my colleagues at dailies have to dash to make their deadlines.
It’s also a matter of respect for those who are at the end of the agenda. And, for you who reads this.
But quite frankly, folks, I just couldn’t take it anymore.
These meetings are way too long to be useful. They aren’t starting to get out of hand—they’re already way out of hand, they have been for some time and someone has to protest. So it falls to me.
As a writer, I was taught early on that the receiver of a message is at least as important as the sender. Thus, if I fail to make clear, concise, understandable points, I lose the reader.
So how’s this? Council—you are losing people.
With your endless agendas, discussions that are repetitive, rambling and have no structure.
This is not meant as a slam against any individual. In my opinion, some council members are worse than others, but as a collective body you are, I’m sorry, terrible.
But I am sympathetic to your situation. For I confess that here at the paper I’m the undisputed champ of “long-winded-ism.” I never met an attention span that I couldn’t outlast. Ask anyone.
So I have to force myself to be disciplined and realize that someone is giving you an honor when they give you their attention, or in your case, Council, attend your meetings.
Abuse that privilege and they learn to stay away.
Out of that discipline, I have now learned to detail my point of view concisely.
And so I’m here to offer help.
Perhaps the next Mayor will decide to have someone from the private sector take a look at things, for no private company stay in business with over four hour board meetings twice a month.
Perhaps she (side note: interesting to not write he/she for once) will forward that person this note. Here are some suggestions that once employed, are guaranteed to make these marathon meetings efficient and meaningful. Guaranteed, I say.
Oops, I must have fallen in love with the sound of my voice again and run out of space, so I guess I’ll have to learn the lesson again to be more respectful to you, the receiver and your time.
If I am lucky enough to get another chance.
BALLSTON SPA —The monthly county Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, October 15 began with Supervisor Dick Rowland (Greenfield) presenting
SARATOGA SPRINGS — It is Showtime in downtown Saratoga Springs. In a big way.
The new Bow Tie Criterion Theater is set to open this Friday Boasting 1,825 seats spread among 11 theaters with custom leather rocking chairs—and there is a full time employee who actually tests each and every chair to ensure they meet the company’s “rocking” standards—Dolby surround sound and screens that are larger than imaginable, the movie theater is elegant, expansive and enticing.
And surprisingly inexpensive—evening movie times are only $12 (matinee price for adults is $9 and the BTX theater has a small surcharge) with matinees as cheap as $4.50 (with a Bow Tie Loyalty Card) and the most expensive food item is $8.50 for six sliders. Bow Tie’s Signature popcorn, which is popped fresh daily and can be topped with real butter, is also reasonably priced with the largest box of popcorn at $7.25 with one free refill.
They also will be featuring a Super Tuesday special price of $6 all day long to watch a movie.
“We heard Saratoga has dark Tuesdays, so we are having Super Tuesdays to go along with that tradition,” said Joseph Masher, chief operating office for Bow Tie Cinemas.
Entering into the two-story tall glass façade lobby, the cinema is sleek and expansive with a curved concession stand, ticket desk and kiosks for printing pre-purchased tickets, as well as purchasing tickets for future shows and present day.
“We are very excited,” said Joe Masher, chief operating officer of Bow Tie Cinemas. “It has been a very amazing response. Saratoga is such a vibrant community and a year-round city and we are excited about opening here.”
Bow Tie is on the cutting edge of movie theaters. No longer dependent on film, almost every movie is delivered digitally by satellite or hard drive.
The selections are sent to the theater, which then makes it choices. Once the show times are selected, a special code is sent to the theater operator and entered into a master computer.
“That sends the right movie to the right theater,” said Craig O’Conner, vice president of Bow Tie. “In the last three to four years, we switched over to digital—unlike film which will have blips and scratches, digital is always a beautiful and pristine presentation.”
The company also was able to secure the lease for the Wilton Mall theater where they will be showing Hollywood blockbusters. It is scheduled to open Friday, October 25.
“[The Railroad Place theater] is more upscale,” said Mosher. “We will have the Classics series, specials like the Rolling Stones Hyde Park Live and Royal Opera House series.”
The company also has introduced the capacity for patrons to download their pre-purchased tickets onto their smartphone, where they can go directly to the theater instead of purchasing or picking up tickets.
“You can buy the ticket on your phone and just walk up and have it scanned and not have to wait in line,” said Masher.
The 58,000 square-foot complex at the corner of Church Street and Railroad Place houses the theater on the first level and has two upper floors with mixed use spaces, of which all but about 4,000-square-feet have been leased.
“It is a pretty amazing transformation from the old Price Chopper,” said developer Sonny Bonacio said at Wednesday’s media event. “It has been 39 years since there was a movie theater downtown and we always wanted to bring one back.”
Masher agreed, noting that while they expect a lot of their traffic to be from pedestrians, there are also close to 800 parking spaces available.
Continuing, Masher said the intended movie for Thursday night’s fundraiser—which has raised over $24,000 so far for Saratoga Community Health Center—was not ready, so they plan on showing the 2013 movie Kill Your Darlings.
He explained they had wanted to open with a special showing of “12 Years a Slave,” a story about a free man lured from Saratoga Springs into slavery, but they are not able to screen that movie until November.
“The movie we had wanted for the opening was not ready to be screened publically,” said Masher.
The history of Bow Tie Cinemas began over 100 years ago when B.S. Moss began his career providing popular entertainment to the public. The business of operating street front Nickelodeons quickly gave way to Vaudeville, which was the heart of B.S. Moss Theaters until the 1930s when B.S. Moss sold his last Vaudeville theater and dedicated himself fully to building and operating motion picture theaters.
In 1936, B.S. Moss opened the Criterion Theater, known then as The Theater of Tomorrow, on Broadway in the “bow tie” of Times Square. The Criterion was the first motion picture theater built exclusively for showing talking motion pictures. It operated continuously for 63 years and was the home of several major New York film premiers including Sleeping Beauty, Lawrence of Arabia and Alien.
The Saratoga location is similar to other Bow Tie theaters with the custom-made leather rocking chairs, wall-to-wall screens and Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound. In Saratoga, the 11 auditoriums range in size from 150 seats to 275, all with stadium seating so the tall person who sits in front you is still not blocking your view.
As for the custom-made leather seats, Masher said they are guaranteed to be especially comfortable for patrons.
“Every seat is checked,” said Masher in response to a question about why some had a piece of blue tape on the backrest. “Those obviously did not feel quite right to our seat checker and need to be adjusted.”
During the media event, the Hobbitt movie trailer was shown in the Bow Tie Xtreme auditorium.
As sound came from each corner of the theater, the image came to life on the 2,000-square-foot screen where even the tiniest details could be seen, including the speckled eyebrows of Thranduil.
Gravity is scheduled to be shown this weekend in the BTX auditorium in 3D.
“You will feel like you are floating around in space with Sandra Bullock,” said Masher.
Movies scheduled for the following week are: The Birds—Saturday and Sunday matinee at $4.50 with a loyalty card; Captain Phillips; Carrie; Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2; Enough Said; Escape Plan; Fifth Estate; Gravity (!;(1:20 p.m. each day); Gravity 3D; Gravity 3D BTX; Poltergeist; Runner Runner; and Rush.
Ciné Classics run each Saturday and Sunday morning—$5.50 without the Criterion card—are featuring The Birds this weekend; Ghostbusters October 26 and 27; Whatever Happened to Baby Jane November 2 and 3; and Some Like It Hot November 9 and 10.
Insomnia Theater, also $5.50 without the card, begins at 11:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays and will show Poltergeist this weekend; Ghostbusters the following; and Spaceballs the weekend after.
Some auditoriums are also available for rent for private parties, showing either a movie presently being played at the theater or one of your own.
For a complete listing of upcoming shows and to purchase tickets, visit their website at www.bowtiecinemans.com.
Candidate Would Invest Savings back into Public Safety budget.
SARATOGA SPRINGS— Saratoga TODAY Newspaper has learned that candidate for Saratoga Springs Commissioner of Public Safety Richard Wirth (R,I,C) will announce today that, if elected, he will leave the public safety department’s Deputy Commissioner vacant at the beginning of his term.
A conversation with Wirth revealed that he plans to re-invest the annual savings, estimated at approximately $100,000 in salary and benefits, back into the department budget for items such as equipment, additional police officer or firefighters.
“In Public Safety, we have two professional chiefs running their respective departments.” Wirth said. “My intention is to be a full-time commissioner that works directly with the police and fire chiefs. A deputy position is just an additional, expensive layer of bureaucracy that the taxpayers have to pay for. I’d eliminate it.”
Wirth continued, “That money is better spent on the street, on needed equipment, technology or personnel. We need less government and more safety.”
He said he would work to establish a public safety reserve fund instead of naming a deputy. That fund would be applied to the public safety operating budget as needed.
“In this day and age, we need to make sure that every dollar that we receive from the taxpayer is well-spent. I believe this puts the money where it should be for a safer Saratoga Springs.” Wirth said.
“I’m glad Rick Wirth is announcing this bold policy,” said Saratoga Springs Independence Party Chairman Edward Miller. “I can tell you that when he mentioned this possibility at our candidate interviews, he got the whole committee’s attention.”
“It’s a common sense policy that is absolutely brilliant—making sure that tax dollars are well-spent,” Miller continued. “Hopefully, this will stimulate other politicians to really examine their budgets as if it were their own money they were spending.”
Candidates from Galway answered the following questions:
Q1: What are the three most critical issues facing Saratoga County today and in the near future?
Q3: Given the growth in population and economic development in Saratoga County, what is your vision for the next ten years?
Q3:What is your motivation for running for this office ? What special skills, knowledge, experience or training do you bring to this position?
Q1: Saratoga was the fastest growing county in the Capital Region and eight of our towns were among the top 100 fastest growing towns in the state. Considering such rapid growth, the three critical issues facing the county are: Affordable Housing and Social Services, Sustainable Development, Cost/care for Aging Infrastructure Regardless of issues facing the County, it's my goal to have Galway folk know the county issues and encourage them to voice their opinions so that I may act on their behalf.
Q2: For Galway I envision agriculture, small businesses and workforce commuters choosing a well-planned rural quality of life over that of unplanned housing sprawl. I’ll encourage young families to invest by strengthening Galway's economy through the creation of a chamber of commerce, service business districts (ie. pharmacy), a farmers and artists network that caters to tourism, and work with the county for the establishment of a daily work bus run to reduce the amount of commuter traffic.
Q3: For 5 years as the Galway Library director, I’ve listened to folks wish that our Town Government was more transparent, responsive and reachable. It's time to give voice to our Town Tax Payers and act on their concerns. My leadership has proven to our tax payers that: I am accessible, my management skills are fiscally sound, I communicate the library’s services, and actions on a weekly basis to the public, I use current web technology for outreach, I diligently pursue grant funds, and I care”.
Paul E. Lent
Q1: The county must rebuild its fund balance to provide for a good financial foundation. We must find a way to manage ever increasing state mandates that strain county resources. Saratoga County has a large infrastructure of highways, bridges, buildings and other systems all of which require monitoring and good management to keep costs in check and yet keep this infrastructure up-to-date so it is efficient and effective.
Q2: Over the next 10 years the county must develop cost effective ways to deal with managing the growing demands on our county infrastructure and our public safety services due to increased population. I see the county taking well-thought out and methodical steps to meet those demands while keeping costs in check. I see building on the achievements it has made such as the development of the Zim Smith trail system for all residents to enjoy
and balance green space needs with growth.
Q3: My motivation to run for the position of Supervisor is to continue to serve the residents of Galway as I have as a member of the Town Board, as Deputy Supervisor and past Chairman and member of the Galway Planning Board. My blend of private sector senior management experience combined with my many years of service in county government as Director of Emergency Services for Saratoga County has provide me with the required experience, knowledge and training to be an effective Town Supervisor.
Candidates from Malta answered the following questions:
Q1: What are the three most critical issues facing Saratoga County today and in the near future?
Q2: Given the growth in population and economic development in Saratoga County, what is your vision for the next ten years?
Q3:What is your motivation for running for this office ? What special skills, knowledge, experience or training do you bring to this position?
Paul J. Sausville
Q1: The three most critical issues facing the County in the near future are State unfunded mandates, the need to grow our economy and growing employee expenses including post employment expenses.
Q2: A great future is in store for Malta and Saratoga County. A new and modern Round Lake Road will be constructed to solve existing traffic problems. GlobalFoundries will be building FAB 8.2 that will create 21st Century jobs for our children and grandchildren. Brown's Beach will be restored for public use. The Hudson Valley/Malta TECH SMART Campus will expand to educate future high-tech workers; The Round Lake Preserve will be constructed and have a new canoe launch.
Q3: I am motivated by the belief that we all should contribute to making the world a better place for our children and grandchildren. For the skills that I possess, I can make the biggest contribution to the world right here in Malta. I have eight years of experience as Town Supervisor, six years as Councilman, 35 years as a Professional Engineer, many years leading the Planning Board and Zoning Update committee. I am a graduate of the University of Vermont.
Cynthia C. Young
Q1: In Saratoga County, development pressures, maintaining our quality of life and making sure that we are fiscally sound are, in my opinion the most pressing issues. We need to encourage economic development by finding creative incentives to businesses. Saratoga has a lot to offer and is a great place to live and work.
Q2: I believe that Saratoga County will become a region on the cutting edge of new technologies. We are already encouraging growth in STEM education and technologies. I hope that this trend continues. New industry and jobs will help to make us fiscally sound.
Q3: I believe that the Town of Malta needs new leadership. Malta faces development pressure and we need to face the future with a realistic vision. I also hope to promote a more open process and transparency. I have served the town in many different capacities and believe that I have the skills and knowledge needed to fulfill the position.
All three candidates answered the following questions:
Q1: What is your motivation for running for this office? What special skills, knowledge, experience or training do you bring to this position?
Q2: What are the three most critical issues facing Saratoga County today and in the near future?
Q3: The NYS Comptroller has listed Saratoga County as fiscally distressed. How do you believe this problem should be addressed?
Q4: Given the growth in population and economic development in Saratoga County what is your vision for the next 10 years?
Kenneth Ivins Jr.
A1: I am running to represent the citizens of the City on the County Board of Supervisor. I have served the City taxpayers as Commissioner of Finance, for four years. This gives me a unique experience that would be an asset as a Supervisor. I was the President of the Southern Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce for seven years. In that timeframe I established many relationships all around the County. Those contacts provide me with a broad perspective of our County.
A2: The three most critical issues facing Saratoga County are taxes, jobs and growth of the County. These issues are strongly connected to each other and if managed properly the County taxpayer will be the benefactor. With the right leadership we can ensure a strong economic climate that will keep our taxes low, allow our children to find good paying jobs in the County and see improvements to an already great quality of life in Saratoga.
A3: Maplewood Manor has negatively affected the strong financial position this county has maintained over the years. It has been losing more than $10 million per year. The Board of Supervisors has taken steps to sell the nursing home and reduce the budget deficit attributed to Maplewood Manor. The Board has also begun the process of selling the unused landfill. The revenue from this unused asset will also help reduce the stress on the County budget by adding a much needed revenue stream.
A4: Many counties are envious of Saratoga County. There is a song titled “My future is so bright I have to wear shades.” That is us right now. By bringing in Global Foundries, we have taken a big step toward a very bright economic future. The key now is to direct the future so we can maintain a strong quality of life. In ten years our county will look dramatically different that it did 10 years ago. We can embrace that change and leverage it to ensure an even better quality of life.
Peter R. Martin
A1: I foresee opportunities and risks that I am prepared to address. I worked over 20 years as an officer of one of the area’s most successful financial services firms. I used my education in economics, finance and law to achieve success there. Governor Cuomo appointed me county clerk where I have opportunity to participate in the operations of our county’s government. I have been able to efficiently enhance service to the public and I have observed lost opportunities for improving county service.
A2: Sustainable Economic Development: Start by fostering growth of our historic industries – tourism, horses and farming. Add the infrastructure to service clean manufacturing and professional development: jobs that will bring young families back to Saratoga; Our Antiquated Infostructure — roads, water sewer and utility service- plan for future growth that doesn’t include traffic jams and pollution. We need imaginative mass transportation solutions; Our Environment: plan green space, parks and trails
A3: The comptroller’s score: 63.8 percent, moderate stress, reflects inadequate general fund balance; for years, spending more than we took in- dipping into fund balances to pay for ongoing expenditures. Factors include losses at Maplewood Manor, money pumped into the county landfill before eventually selling it for a loss and poor revenue estimates. Sale of Maplewood and landfill should reduce the fiscal stress for 2014, but we need to investigate lost county revenue opportunities and improved budgeting.
A4: We must play to our strong suits while preparing infrastructure designed to cope with the growth. Foster tourism by protecting our green space and enhancing parks and trails. Welcome our new clean manufacturing base by preparing for the stress on our roads and utilities. Protect the history and character of Saratoga Springs. Have shovel ready projects available for transportation and infrastructure development. SEDC and a long term plan are not mutually exclusive; rejecting SEDC was a mistake.
Matthew E. Veitch
A1: I am running for Supervisor to continue to serve the public at the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. With my professional life in technology, and what I have learned in government, I have seen issues with efficiencies in government, and led me to propose solutions to solve them. During my three terms as Supervisor I have continued to develop my skills in working with others, in order to get us what we need as a City at the County level.
A2: The three biggest issues facing Saratoga County now are the continuing fiscal issues with unfunded State Mandates and keeping our fiscal condition strong, the potential effects of full-scale Casino gambling on our community, and making sure we are planning for our future in Economic Development. All three of these issues have and will affect our County's bottom line, the tax rate, jobs, and quality of life and my job is to protect make sure the public's interest in these issues is represented.
A3: This problem is already being addressed and is something we are always looking at the County level. The steps taken to remove the tax burden of the County's nursing home, to continue to promote our strong retail sector to gain tax revenue, and by creating a long-term Econmic Development plan, we are doing what we can to correct any fiscal issues we are having. As a County that is among the lowest-taxed and fastest-growing in the State, I see our situation improving over the next few years.
A4: I see the County continuing to grow over the next ten years. I have always supported prudent and comprehensive economic development, and the County has undertaken an Economic Development strategic plan, that will guide our actions over the next decade. We have to continue to have balance in our growth and be supportive of efforts to preserve green space, to provide public amenities such as multi-use trails, and to make sure that we are preserving the County's quality of life for our residents.
GREENFIELD — The Town of Greenfield Planning Board recommended to the Town Board that Skidmore College’s application for a new solar facility be approved.