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SARATOGA SPRINGS – Representatives of the Rip Van Dam hotel project provided a revised update of their plans to the Planning Board on April 5.

Among the revisions: the previously suggested orange brick face of the building has been changed to feature a softer white appearance; the proposed banquet facility will be replaced by a restaurant, and the newest configuration will total 159 rooms. Previous proposals varied between 142 and 176 rooms.  

Parking will be via a multi-story garage with a 341-vehicle capacity to be built on Hamilton Street, just south of Congress Street, atop a current flat lot.  

The Planning Board is slated to consider Shelters of Saratoga’s application(s) for a special use permit and site plan review for a proposed permanent Code Blue emergency homeless shelter on Walworth Street. It is anticipated the board may consider those applications at its next meeting, on Thursday, April 19.  

This is the current lot, facing Hamilton Street, where a proposed multi-story garage will be constructed. 

8.2-park lot.jpg


Upcoming Meetings

Monday, April 16: 9:30 a.m. City Council Pre-agenda Meeting.

Monday, April 16: 5 p.m. Planning Board Workshop.

Tuesday, April 17: 7 p.m. City Council Meeting

Wednesday, April 18: 7 p.m. Design Review Commission Meeting

Thursday, April 19: 6 p.m. Planning Board Meeting.    

Published in News
Thursday, 29 October 2015 12:21

10,000+ Heading To Head of the Fish!

New: Free shuttle between Downtown and Fish Creek

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A two-day spectacle celebrating the sport of rowing, featuring over 2,100 entrants, and representing over 200 organizations from all over the Eastern United States and Canada, is coming to town this weekend. The shores of Fish Creek will be lined with spectators for the 29th Annual Head of the Fish Regatta on Saturday and Sunday, October 31 and November 1. Given good weather, the races will be viewed by an estimated 10-12,000 people over those two days.


This is the largest of three major regattas hosted annually by the Saratoga Rowing Association (SRA) and has grown steadily over the years in every category imaginable. This year, with five weekends in October, the Head of the Fish has been moved back one week, and now will not conflict with the Head of the Schuylkill Regatta (another major regatta in the Philadelphia, PA area) as it has in previous years. While that may explain part of the increase in participation, SRA’s Regatta Director Chris Chase believes a general advance in the popularity of rowing is the key to the Head of the Fish’s growth.


“The highest concentration of junior (middle and high school) rowers is right here between Albany and Saratoga,” Chase noted, “at SRA, the number of participants is up to 205 from 175 last year, and this is something we are seeing with many other teams in the region.” The impact extends beyond the region, as evidenced by the fact that, year after year, regatta weekends generate the highest hotel/motel occupancy of any weekend outside of the “traditional” summer tourist season.


As one might expect, moving all these rowers, buses, cars and fans in and out of the area around the Lee’s Park boat launch area always presents unique challenges. Chase noted, “The actual racing is the easiest part of the whole regatta. We’re very glad that we are able to put this on for the kids and the participants each year, but with a regatta of this size, it’s always the logistics that take up most of our time and effort.” Indeed, Katherine Smith, President of SRA’s Board of Directors also has the key role of managing the volunteer staff, whose ranks also grow each year. “This year, we’ll have the assistance of about 210 volunteers, not including the EMS and Sheriff’s department, which always does a great job on our behalf. We estimate that over 1,800 volunteer hours will be logged during the weekend.”


In an effort to both alleviate traffic pressure around Fish Creek and enhance the overall fan experience, SRA has combined with the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau (SCTB) to offer continuous shuttle buses on both days between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Two free shuttle buses, underwritten by SCTB, will make stops at Saratoga Lake and Downtown Saratoga Springs. The two stops will be in front of the state boat launch next to the site of SRA’s future headquarters, and at the Saratoga Springs Visitor Center on Broadway. 


Announcing the new shuttle, Todd Garofano, President of SCTB said, “It really is a win-win. Parents and fans here to watch their athletes compete often have long periods of time in between races and search for things to do. They can take advantage of the shuttle now to come downtown to shop, dine or stroll. And for those folks here visiting that are interested in watching an amazing free event, they can take the shuttle to the regatta site and not worry about finding a place to park.” 


Smith echoed those thoughts, “The shuttle service will provide an efficient way for visitors to experience a little more of Saratoga and I also really hope local families will use the shuttle as an opportunity to come see what a regatta is all about. First timers are always amazed at the size, the excitement and the camaraderie at Saratoga Regattas and this fascinating sport!”


Also, SRA will be drawing the winning ticket for its raffle of a 2015 Audi A3 convertible, or $30,000 in cash, at the regatta on Sunday at 1 p.m. The proceeds from this raffle will be used to support SRA’s Capital Campaign, which includes the construction of a new Regatta Headquarters and Training Facility, which is now underway and scheduled to be completed next spring (see Saratoga TODAY - September 25, 2015). Raffle tickets may be purchased at SRA’s Headquarters, or during regatta weekend up until the drawing on Sunday. 


At press time, the weather forecast is calling for moderate winds, highs in the 50s and next to no chance for rain. In other words -ideal viewing conditions should be in effect. Saturday’s schedule will begin at 8 a.m. and the day’s racing will showcase the Masters (adult), Collegiate, and Open Divisions, as well as some Junior single’s events. Sunday’s races begin at 7:30 a.m. (Note: This takes into account Daylight Savings Time – set your clocks back!), and are dedicated to Juniors in different divisions, in boats with varying numbers of rowers from two to eight. 


Whenever you decide to go, by all means make it a point to put this one on your calendar. The Head of the Fish Regatta is always a highlight of the fall, and yet another example of a world-class event that occurs in our region. 


For more information, visit SaratogaRowing.com 

Published in News
Thursday, 24 September 2015 10:26

Pulling It All Together

Saratoga Rowing Association’s Mission: A Year-round Premier Rowing Destination

SARATOGA SPRINGS – With Saturday’s Tail of the Fish Regatta scheduled to launch about 8 a.m., it is important to celebrate the year-round impact that the Saratoga Rowing Association (SRA) has on the local economy. Yes, they put on world-class regattas, but an important part of their greater mission is: To grow Saratoga into a premier rowing destination. That mission got a big boost earlier this week, with the beginning of construction on a new Saratoga Training and Regatta Center on Route 9P. 


This center, scheduled to be completed in February of 2016, is the cornerstone of a $1.25 million capital campaign that began earlier this year with contributions from Bonacio Construction, Stewart’s Shops and the Dake Family, Adirondack Trust Company and other community leaders as well as the public.


According to SRA Board President Katherine Smith, the fundraising for the campaign is about 70 percent complete, and donations are still welcome (visit SaratogaRowing.com/campaign). 


Smith, citing statistics from the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau, the impact from the Regattas (including the Tail of the Fish, Head of the Fish and Saratoga Invitational, and others) already generates impressive numbers:

  • 10,000+ hotel room nights
  • An overall $8.9 million annual local impact on the economy

 It is worth noting that this impact is generated between Labor and Memorial Day – outside the height of the traditional Saratoga tourism season. 


So, the new training center will serve to increase an already robust economic impact that SRA fosters locally. Once complete, it will also greatly expand the ability for year-round indoor training of athletes. “When it’s up and running, we will have the capacity to train 200 young athletes in grades 7-12, plus 40 adults, all in one day.” Smith noted. 


Saturday’s Tail of the Fish Regatta is a success story begun by SRA Regatta Director Chris Chase in 1997. This one-day event will bring over 300 boats and 36 registered teams, from as far as Cope Cod, MA and throughout the Northeast, to compete on Saratoga Lake, along with thousands of viewers and supporters who will line the shore. This regatta has several important early-season functions for the teams involved. 


“It gives an opportunity for teams that are just beginning the season to settle on the lineup(s) that work best,” said SRA Executive Director Eric Catalano, who also is the Varsity Girls Head Coach. “It gets newer rowers an initiation into the competitiveness of regatta action, with an emphasis on local rivalries, such as with Albany, Shenendehowa, Niskayuna, Burnt Hills and Emma Willard that traditionally field strong teams. Chris Chase always does a great job reaching out to the other squads and putting together a solid lineup.” Chase, like many on SRA’s dedicated staff, wears more than one hat – he is also the Freshman Boys Coach. 


As far as SRA’s teams, Catalano said, “…the squads are deep and evenly balanced – from both an age group and gender standpoint. We are coming off a strong showing at the Head of the Hudson in Albany.” Catalano notes that the Tail of the Fish is also a great opportunity for someone new to view the sport of rowing, as “the weather is nearly always ideal,” he said. This early prelude to some of the major fall regattas, including Saratoga’s two-day Head of the Fish (on Saturday October 31 and Sunday, November 1 this year) also gives Smith, who also serves as SRA’s Volunteer Coordinator, a chance to work out logistics with about 125 volunteers, whose ranks will nearly double at the end of next month. 


The new training center will be faithful to the rich heritage of rowing in Saratoga that SRA has stewarded since their founding in 1996. In a nice piece of symmetry, the architect of the new building is Tom Frost, who is the creator of the iconic and highly treasured Head of the Fish Trophy. It will also have expanded facilities, Smith noted. “The new facility will have locker rooms and showers. In addition, the bottom floor will have a regatta office that will have staff and serve as a headquarters for day-of- event activities. It will be a much better situation for logistics.”


“Also, the second floor will have temporary adult housing space for visiting coaches and race officials, and will give us room for our youth and adult summer camp.” Smith added. 


At any major well-run event, such as the Tail of the Fish Regatta, there are many things that go on behind the scenes that the public often doesn’t see until they arrive on event day; this is also the case with a lot of the Saratoga Racing Association’s activities to make Saratoga a premier destination for rowing – but we need not wait for the eventual ribbon-cutting to salute their dedication to that cause.  


“We’re very grateful to all that helped bring us to this point with their support,” Katherine Smith said, “I’m happy to point out to any of our contributors that 100 percent of our Board, and all of our members, about 170 families, gave to this campaign before the public kickoff.”


“It set us up for an exciting future that everyone will enjoy.”


For more information, visit SaratogaRowing.com.

Published in News
Thursday, 25 April 2013 12:44

2013 16th Annual SRA Invitational

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The 16th annual Saratoga Invitations is set to host upwards of 1200 teams from the Northeast this Friday, April 26 to Sunday, April 28. After about 900 entries in 2012, the Invitational has continued to see growth, as it becomes more and more renowned as one of the fastest regattas available for competition.

Published in News


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