Displaying items by tag: saratoga springs

Thursday, 24 September 2020 12:17

Excelsior Park: The Next Phase

SARATOGA SPRINGS — An expansion at the Excelsior Park complex is being reviewed by the city Planning Board.

The area of review is off Excelsior Avenue, located north of the VFW Post 420 in a wooded area bordered by Spring Run Trail.  Excelsior Park Phase 1 has been constructed and Phase 2 has previously been approved and is under construction.

The Excelsior Park Project currently under review proposes a mixed-use development that includes 163 residential units, 36,200 square feet of commercial space, a banquet facility, spa, swimming pool, and a 60-room hotel with a 200-seat restaurant. 

The residential component includes a variety of single and multi-bedroom apartments, townhouses and condominiums. The original application for the project was made in November 2017 and first presented to the Planning Board in early 2018. 

Plans call for the construction of three new structures – the largest of which will stand 50 feet high and 250 feet wide.  The Excelsior Park expansion is anticipated to occur over several phases and cover nearly 35 acres with a start date of June 2021. 

The group presenting the proposal is represented by The Chazen Companies - a multi-disciplinary firm providing clients in both the private and public sectors with a everything from land surveying, planning, and landscape architecture to construction services.

Published in News
Thursday, 17 September 2020 13:08

Battle Lines Drawn: Charter Change Back on the Ballot

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Buckle your seat belts, the battle lines have been drawn. 

In November, on Election Day, city residents will be asked to consider a change in the only form of governing that Saratoga Springs has known since its inception as a city in 1915. The last time a citizen-led City Charter referendum proposed change, which took place in 2017, a tense nine-day post-election period was required to await the return of absentee ballots that would decide the winner. In the end, nearly 9,000 residents voted in all and the referendum to replace the long-standing commission form of governing was defeated by a total of 10 votes. 

That razor-thin margin in 2017 was a continuation of an ever-tightening vote differential in community-led proposals for change: a 2006 referendum proposing a change to a strong-mayor form of government was voted down by roughly a 62-38 percent difference, and a 2012 proposal was defeated 58-42 percent. 

This time around, the proposed charter reform calls for the creation of a six-person council whose members would be elected from six newly created neighborhood “wards,” a mayor elected by voters city-wide, and the hiring by the council of a city manager. 

Last week, a pro-charter change citizens campaign committee called Common Sense Saratoga, staged their kick-off campaign at High Rock Park. 

“Why am I here today? When I was in office, politics was the primary thing, unfortunately,” said Ron Kim, former city Public Safety Commissioner and currently a co-chair of Common Sense Saratoga. “Each of the commissioners protected their own turf. That’s not the way I wanted to operate, but that’s the way things were. Everyday citizens would meet roadblocks for the simple things,” Kim said.  “It was open to those who were connected, who had their own attorneys, who had a voice through the political end. That’s cronyism. That’s not representative government.” 

The current “Commission” form of governing features five council members – one mayor, plus four commissioners heading the departments of Public Safety, Public Works, Finance, and Accounts, respectively.  Each council member is responsible for administering their own department as well as serving as legislators. In this council of five, each of whom is elected to two-year terms, decisions are made by majority rule. 

Kim said the change in the form of governing would provide more accountability, representation and transparency. “City wide commissioners who manage bureaucracies don’t, as a first priority, represent people. They represent the department. I know. I was there.” 

Saratoga Works - a group opposing the charter change and in favor of maintaining the status quo, launched their first gathering two weeks ago. 

Led by co-chairs Connie Woytowich and Jane Weihe, the Saratoga Works group argue a change in Saratoga Springs’ current form of government would be risky during a time of a pandemic and subsequent economic crisis, deliver an “expensive version of charter change” and would politicize neighborhoods by dividing them into wards.

Kim and the Common Sense Saratoga group scoffed at criticisms that a ward-based system would pit neighborhoods in competition with one another as being “cynical” and argued that the ward system similarly aligns with most representative governments such as Congress and Senate representation. 

Addressing costs, he said swapping the salary and benefit package costs of the five councilmembers and their five deputies in the current form in favor of a city manager, a mayor, and six ward council members in the proposed reform would provide taxpayer savings. 

Saratoga Works argues that even as some city deputy or assistant salary costs would be saved, new workers would still need to be hired to conduct the work the current city employees are doing, increasing financial ramifications. 

The designated wards of the proposed referendum are as follows: “Inner East Side” Ward 1 -  Election Districts 4, 8, 9 and 12; “North Side” Ward 2 - Districts 1,2,3, 24 and 25; “Outer East Side” Ward 3 - Districts 5, 15, 17 and 22; “South Side” Ward 4 - Districts 10, 13, 14 and 23; “South West Side” Ward 5 - Districts 16, 18, 20 and 21; “West Side” Ward 6 - Districts 6, 7, 11 and 19. Each ward counts approximately 2,900 to 3,400 currently registered voters.

A total of 1,565 registered voters signed the petition to put the proposal on the ballot. If approved by voters in November, the measure is anticipated to take effect in January 2022.

The concept of a Commission form of government was founded in Galveston, Texas in 1901 after a storm ravaged that city, killing more than 5,000 people and creating the need for a useful way of post-disaster governing. It proved to be an efficient measure as well as a popular one. By 1912, 206 cities in 34 states had followed suit. Saratoga Springs adopted the commission form of governing shortly after it was incorporated as a city in 1915. Since its popularity in the early 20th century, however, many cities have since switched to other forms.

For more information about the pro-charter change referendum, go to: commonsensesaratoga.org. For more information about the group opposed to change of the city’s current form of government, go to: saratogaworks.org

Published in News
Thursday, 17 September 2020 13:03

City Hall Reopens

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Temperatures were taken at the door and mask-wearing visitors shared their contact information on a sign-in sheet. A scattering of chairs were set socially-distanced from one another inside the council room.

For the first time in 25 months, the city this week hosted an on-site public meeting at City Hall. The 1871 building has been closed since an Aug. 17, 2018 lightning strike and subsequent fire and water damage forced its closure. An extensive, multi-million dollar renovation project followed. The building has yet to be fully re-opened. This week’s City Council meeting allowed for the temporary opening of a side entryway and main floor hallway and council room use. The building is expected to open to the public on Sept. 28. 

City Council Meeting:
The city resident U.S. Census 2020 response rate is 63%  - “far below our goal of 80%,” Mayor Meg Kelly said Tuesday night. “Each child counted in the census represents, on average, $2,700 per year for our school district’s federal funding every year for the next 10 years.”  Residents who have not already done so, are asked to complete the census questionnaire at: My2020census.com. 

• The council adopted a resolution to extend temporary outdoor seating areas through Oct. 31. A previously adopted resolution allowing more space for restaurants to seat customers - as per COVID protocols – expires Oct. 7.

   

• Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan announced the city’s proposed 2021 Comprehensive Budget will be presented at the next City Council meeting, on Tuesday Oct. 6. The budget is currently working with $41.9 million in revenues for the 2021 budget – down from the $48.7 million budget adopted this year – a pandemic related shortfall of just over $7 million. “This is one of the most challenging budgets that I’ve faced during my 9-year tenure,” Madigan said. “Without assistance from the Federal government for state and local governments, and in particular for the city of Saratoga Springs, we are looking at large across-the-board expense reductions.”    

• The search is underway for a Public Health Commissioner at the county Board of Supervisors. The hiree will be, for the first time at the county level, a medical doctor, Supervisor Matt Veitch said.   

• The county is initiating a lease agreement to run Oct. 1 – March 31 with Shelters of Saratoga at the county’s building at 31 Woodlawn Ave. A portion of the building is to be used as a potential overflow location for the Code Blue emergency shelter. That main shelter is located on Adelphi Street. The building will also house a variety of county departments - employment & training, veterans, Dept. of Social Services, and Mental Health – to assist the homeless population, Supervisor Tara Gasto added. The county is seeking a buyer for the building, and the city is interested in purchasing it, Mayor Kelly said. 

• Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton informed the council she is developing a report regarding homeless and vagrancy issues on Woodlawn Avenue, which is anticipated to be presented at the next City Council meeting. 

Published in News
Friday, 11 September 2020 12:30

Five Points Market Begins New Chapter

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Some businesses shut their doors during the 2020 pandemic, but Maura Pulver, owner of Five Points Market & Deli, used the restrictions as an opportunity.

Pulver created Simply Food by Maura to continue her tradition of great breakfast sandwiches and homemade Take 5 Dinners. She also hopes to expand her business focus to private catering.

“Life comes with many opportunities. Sometimes I have even been fortunate enough to latch onto them, and while change can always be scary, it also brings new and exciting memories that we are not yet aware of. I call this a chance to Get to the Point,” Pulver wrote on Facebook. “I will only be down the street. I will still be making breakfast sandwiches…with some mad crazy additions. I will be adding additional Take [five] dinners during the week. And I will be catering. I will take some wonderful Five Point traditions with me and create some new and fantastic ones.”

Pulver plans to sell her breakfast sandwiches out of a commercial kitchen at the Saratoga Springs Senior Citizen Center. In addition to breakfast, she will begin a catering business and continue a popular take-out option she offered at Five Points, called Take Five Dinners. 

So far, Pulver has released menu details for Simply Food. Some items include: the Points Classic made up of two eggs, american cheese, choice of sausage, bacon or ham on toasted hard roll and the Blueberry Bomb made of two eggs, sausage, cheddar with a maple syrup drizzle on grilled blueberry bread.

The doors to Five Points officially closed Aug. 31 after Pulver had owned it for eight-and-a-half years. Just like other downtown businesses, Pulver had reduced her staff, menu and hours of operation due to the pandemic. She then used her extra time to create her new catering business. 

On her website, Pulver states that loyalty points from a Five Points account can carry-over to Simply Food by Maura. Free lunches on Saturday and Sunday will also continue at the new location.

“The support of the community has been so very generous, we look forward sharing this small gesture with our neighbors as long as there is a need to do so,” Pulver wrote on her website.

She added: “In a year of pandemic pivoting, I have arrived at a new point in my journey. Over these challenging months I have been fortunate to continue doing what I love…simply feeding my community. Whether our simple free lunches, deliciously simple Take Five Dinners and take out, or our creatively simple catered covid celebrations. I have been in my element.”

Simply Food by Maura will be located at 5 Williams Street and her website can be reached at simplyfoodbymaura.com.

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — With the return of students for the fall semester, Skidmore College announced it has developed contingency plans should the transmission of COVID-19 spike among the college community. 

As of this week, Skidmore reports 2 total positive tests to date – counting students and employees – and 6 people in quarantine. The dashboard may be viewed at: www.skidmore.edu/fall-planning/dashboard.php. 

The college contingency plan is framed by five “alert levels” of increasing severity. They are: 

Alert Level 1 - At this lowest level of alert, very few positive test results exist, and contact tracing shows a very limited number of employees and students on campus may have been exposed. Epidemiological analysis and contact tracing suggest that the situation can be contained, isolated and controlled. Affected students and employees are quarantined pursuant to DOH guidelines and this Plan. Affected areas are contained, isolated and decontaminated. Other campus operations or residential life activities are not affected.

Alert Level 2 - The number of positive test results and numbers of exposed individuals in quarantine are slightly higher than at the lowest level of alert, but Saratoga County Public Health is able to conduct effective and timely contact tracing and the college has been able to act swiftly to identify, isolate and contain transmission. There is no evidence of community transmission at this level. This level may require limiting operations in specific operations, areas or programs for a period of time to prevent ongoing exposure. A larger number of students, employees and/or facilities could be impacted but that impact is likely to remain time limited and is directly related to specific and already identified infections.

Alert Level 3 - A small outbreak has occurred on campus in a defined population, such as a building, department or residence hall. Confidence in the ability to accurately complete contact tracing in a timely way is moderate. It is also the case that it may be difficult to identify a specific area for containment, isolation and remediation. This level may require shutting down the areas impacted by the outbreak but does not require a campus-wide shutdown. Select programs may move back into an online-only environment with non-resident students staying off campus, resident students staying in their rooms and non-essential affected employees working from home. Individuals who test positive and who have been exposed are isolated and quarantined, potentially in bulk (e.g., entire building or more). The College may order shelter-in-place for students (stay and study in their rooms). Careful consideration will be given to whether on-campus services for employees, such those provided by the Greenberg Childcare Center, can be maintained.

Alert Level 4 - The College is experiencing a sizeable outbreak, as evidenced by numbers of current cases, increases in positive test rates or by multiple positive tests without clear sources of infection, and the College has clear evidence that contact tracing, containment, isolation and remediation efforts are not effective The College will “pause” and move to remote learning alternatives and remote work arrangements where possible. Non-resident students and employees whose presence on campus is not essential to the College’s daily operations will be restricted from coming on campus. Resident students will be required to shelter in place or return home for the pause. The “pause” is intended to be temporary (one to four weeks) and to control further transmission.

Alert Level 5 - The situation has escalated to the point where ongoing campus or community transmission is occurring at a significant rate. There is no realistic strategy to contain or control the situation. Given the timing in the academic calendar, the College has no other option than to shut down on-campus operations completely. All campus operations come to a halt, non-essential employees shift to remote work arrangements when possible, and students move to remote learning for the remainder of the semester. Campus will close for the rest of the semester and students will be moved out following the College’s protocol. Those unable to leave will appeal to remain on campus. Skidmore College will support any student who, for financial or other hardship reasons, cannot depart campus in response to a shutdown scenario.

If the College’s RO infection rate is < or = 1, meaning individuals who are infected infect no more than one other person, Skidmore says it will generally be able to continue in-person learning. Scenarios necessitating decreasing on-campus activities and operations or closing the campus will be communicated to all faculty, staff, students and parents by email and the College’s Fall Planning website.

Published in Education

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Unfortunately due to public health and safety concerns from the COVID pandemic, this year’s Showcase of Homes “live” tour event was cancelled. Exciting news as we are planning and filming a one-hour Showcase TV Special which will air this fall. It will include interviews, tours, and more, as we celebrate our areas finest builders, homes and developments. It will also provide a way for you to contribute to our two important and extraordinary local charities which normally benefit from ticket sales. The show is currently in production. Please check our website in September for show dates and times to tune in or DVR this show. 

This unique and special broadcast will be graciously hosted by CBS-6 News Anchor Liz Bishop airing exclusively on WRGB Channel 6. The 12 builders being featured are: Beechwood Homes, Bella Home Builders, Belmonte Builders, Caruso Home Builders, Degraff-Bloom Custom Builders, Heritage Custom Builders, Kodiak Construction, McPadden Builders, The Earth Source Company, The West Saratoga Condos, Whitbeck Construction & Witt Construction. There will also be an important segment on our two local charities Rebuilding Together Saratoga County and Habitat for Humanity of Northern Saratoga, Warren & Washington Counties.

We are grateful for the support from many generous sponsors making this Special TV Show possible and thankful for your continued support of this fall tradition.  Furthermore, we look forward to presenting the “live” 2021 Saratoga Showcase of Homes tour next year as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary.

The Saratoga Showcase of Homes is the area’s premiere new home tour. This annual community event has contributed nearly $1.3 million dollars to our local charities - Rebuilding Together Saratoga County and Habitat for Humanity of Southern Saratoga, Warren & Washington Counties. For more information, please visit www.saratogashowcaseofhomes.com. Follow us on our BLOG & FACEBOOK for all the updates. SOH2020 Builders

ABOUT SARATOGA BUILDERS ASSOCIATION

The Saratoga Builders Association, Inc. (SBA) is a specialized professional trade association representing an industry basic to the well-being and economy of the people of Saratoga County. Its membership includes residential and commercial builders, developers, remodelers, building material suppliers, sub-contractors, financial institutions, architects, engineers, realtors, attorneys and other industry professionals. SBA is committed to the continued growth, prosperity and quality of life in Saratoga County.

Published in News
Thursday, 20 August 2020 12:00

Charter Change: Back on the Ballot

SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Election Day, city residents will be asked to consider a change in the only form of governing that Saratoga Springs has known since its inception as a city in 1915. 

In 2017, the last time a citizen-led City Charter referendum proposed change, the measure was defeated by a razor-thin margin of 4,458 - 4,448. 

The current “Commission” form of governing features five council members – one mayor, plus four commissioners heading the departments of Public Safety, Public Works, Finance, and Accounts, respectively.  Each council member is responsible for administering their own department as well as serving as legislators. In this council of five, each of whom is elected to two-year terms, decisions are made by majority rule. 

The “Council-Manager” proposal calls for replacing that “Commission” form in favor of one that includes a mayor – elected by the voters of the city at large, and six members elected from city wards by the voters of those specific wards. Those six wards are to be comprised of equal voting population. 

That city council of seven would then appoint, set the salary for, and hire a City Manager. The idea is that residents would be represented through the ward system, and the manager held to accountability via the city council. 

A new group opposing the charter change proposal staged a gathering in Congress Park this week. They call themselves Saratoga Works and include co-chairs Connie Woytowich and Jane Weihe, and steering committee members Chris Obstarczyk, Courtney DeLeonardis, Janice Partridge, Jay Partridge, George Cain, and Joe Dalton. 

Weihe said a change in Saratoga Springs’ current form of government would be risky during a time of a pandemic and subsequent economic crisis, and that this “expensive version of charter change” would politicize neighborhoods by dividing them into wards.

Those financial concerns are specifically related to what the overall costs could be should the plan be implemented; even though some city deputy or assistant salaries would be saved, new workers would still need to be hired to conduct the work the current city employees are doing, she argued. 

“We don’t know what it will cost. This is more of a concept than a plan,” she said.  A website, saratogaworks.org, was launched in conjunction with the group gathering. 

Gordon Boyd is a member of the citizen group proposing the new charter for the city. Last summer, a group of 41 residents circulated the petitions necessary to place the proposition on this November’s ballot.  A total of 1,565 registered voters signed the petition to put the proposal on the ballot. 

“We’ve got a chance to start fresh coming out of this public health crisis,” said Boyd, adding that an information website is anticipated to be launched sometime around Labor Day, heading into the election season. If approved by voters, the measure is expected to take effect in January 2022.

The concept of a Commission form of government was founded in Galveston, Texas in 1901 after a storm ravaged the city, killing more than 5,000 people and creating the need for a useful way of post-disaster governing. It proved to be an efficient measure as well as a popular one. By 1912, 206 cities in 34 states had followed suit. Saratoga Springs adopted the commission form of governing shortly after it was incorporated as a city in 1915. Since its popularity in the early 20th century, however, many cities have since switched to other forms.

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — In January, Robin Dalton took office as city Public Safety Commissioner – the first woman to hold the position which oversees, among other things, the overall operation of the police and fire departments. 

She grew up in Manhattan “in a really loving, happy home, and attended classes at the Chapin School, an all-girls school on the Upper East Side that lists among its alumnae Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Vera Wang, and N.Y. Mets owner Joan Whitney Payson. “Ivanka Trump was two grades below me,” Dalton says. Shortly after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Cornell University, in 2007 Dalton relocated to Saratoga Springs where she lives with her husband and their four children.

FROM LOCAL RESIDENT TO CITY GOVERNMENT

In 2012, Dalton began digging into city politics and observing council meetings. “To me it was very important to have experience in Saratoga and get involved in the community in a way to really understand the spirit of the city so I can represent the people who live here to the best of my potential. So, I really waited until I was ready to take this on because I knew it would be challenging.

“One of the best things about it was I perceived partisanship as not being a factor in how the City Council was voting. It didn’t seem people were making politically based decisions. The decisions were being made as for what’s best for the city. And I think that’s also been my happiest revelation over these past seven months. I don’t think there’s been a single moment where anyone has invoked my party to persuade me to vote one way or another. It’s a non-issue,” Dalton says. “Partisanship doesn’t have any role in how the City Council votes. And to me that’s a really good thing. That’s been really awesome.” Seven months on the job, Dalton sat down this week to talk about the status of several pressing city issues in this most unusual year. 

COVID

When the city declared a State of Emergency in March, the city’s Emergency Management Plan directed the public safety commissioner lead a team to address the emergency. “That was a moment when our form of government was at its best,” Dalton says. The city’s Commission form of governing – which charges each commissioner with different responsibilities, yet equal political power was born specifically from emergency when it was implemented in Texas, in 1901 as a reaction to the Galveston hurricane. 

“I was also fortunate to have a City Council that was supportive of how I was sourcing and disseminating information, which was taking it from our governor. It was disappointing to me we didn’t have a leader of our country who led by example – handling it with science and data rather than partisanship, so I was going to stick to the guidelines laid out by Governor Cuomo. I would say I love what he’s doing right now. Will I love what he’s doing six months from now? A year from now? Probably not, but that’s not going to prevent me from saying he’s done a great job handling the virus.” 

A member of the Republican Party, she is unafraid to step outside any pre-conceived limitations regarding party and is something she says she was upfront about when first interviewing with the city GOP Committee.  “I went through a list of things I knew they weren’t necessarily going to be happy about: I’m pro-choice, I’m pro-immigrant – but I wanted to be clear upfront about what I stand for.” 

POLITICIZING A VIRUS

“Unfortunately, everything has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s not about your health necessarily, it’s about what you stand for, what party you’re with. I think that’s really sad and destructive. It’s been divisive but at the end of the day all I care about is that the city is as healthy as possible and simultaneously that our economy is strong. There is an incredible importance in both and we’re not here to put one above the other.” 

SCHOOLS

 “We have models we look at and we’re working very closely with the hospital. We are expecting positive cases to go up because kids are coming back to school. We need to predict these things. I don’t think it’s going to take us back to where we were at our peak, which was about 10% positive cases. Right now, we’ve dropped to under 1% which is fantastic. There’s a huge mental health component and our children have suffered immensely. We’re trying to give kids a little bit of normalcy.”

ADDRESSING THE NEED FOR A FIRE/EMS STATION TO SERVE RESIDENTS OF THE EAST SIDE

“We have done a site plan and needs analysis of the Henning Road location and put out an RFP for a design firm. We had planned on moving on this aggressively, but when the pandemic hit everything got paused.” The question now is how best to move forward in a tough economic climate. To that end, the city is exploring state aid and grant possibilities to assist moving forward. “I think this is a smart way to handle it that doesn’t put us in a situation of it being a financial liability. But we’re setting ourselves up such that we can use money from the state to complete the project and deliver for our east side residents their emergency medical needs while also not putting the city in a precarious financial position.”    

HOMELESSNESS AND THE NEED FOR A PERMANENT CODE BLUE EMERGENCY SHELTER

 “With this pandemic and this ensuing financial collapse, we’re going to be seeing a lot of people who are in distress in terms of keeping a roof over their head. And (homelessness) is not a one-size-fits-all problem. There are some people who are drug-addicted, people who have mental issues, people who have no interest in finding or seeking shelter and have established a lifestyle outside, downtown.  That works for them, but it’s not something that as a city the residents want to tolerate. If you go over to the Woodlawn parking lot you can see it almost every day; it’s almost an encampment and really a struggle for the neighbors there. So, we’re addressing that – but homelessness is not something that can be solved by law enforcement. It can be solved by having community partners working together in the spirit that the Saratoga Collaborative to End Homelessness is working in. You need the county on board, you need all the social services to be on board and everyone needs to come at this issue wanting to get rid of all the roadblocks and challenges that are in place, to get people into housing and work through them in difficult and sometimes scary ways.  Without that, I don’t know that there is a fix for this issue.” 

“We also have this enormous need for a year-round shelter, and we don’t have that place right now. We’re just pushing people from one area of the city to the other, going around and around and it’s an enormous waste of time, energy, resources and ultimately isn’t helping the people who we want to help.  So, It’s incredibly frustrating and incredibly challenging. That’s really a critical part of this problem. We have to have this permanent, year-round facility, and then it comes down to whose responsibility is it to financially provide this. I am very committed to solving this problem, but I also know the roadblocks and challenges ahead of us are significant.

RALLIES AND PROTESTS AND ISSUES OF RACE

“Emotions have been running extremely high – not just about race but of all these contributing factors, all over America. I can’t recall a time when people have been this traumatized and have had such heightened emotions and reactions. 

“For any kind of significant change to happen it needs to happen as a community, not just as law enforcement. This is a Saratoga Springs conversation. We all need to be addressing how the experience of being white in Saratoga is very different than being black in Saratoga. (Our officers) have reached out to Black Lives Matter protesters locally, taking a knee with protestors, walking arm-in-arm with them. They’ve exercised incredible professionalism and the only thing they want is for people to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech and the right to gather and protest and to be able to do that in one piece. The absolutely last thing I wanted was for anyone to be arrested and any kind of violence to break out. 

“I will be very candid and say I don’t think having a Back The Blue rally was an appropriate choice at this time. I thought it was a bit tone-deaf and likely to make the challenges of addressing Black Lives Matter and racism and bias larger and make people louder and angrier and divide people more than it would bring people together. I’m looking at this in a bigger picture context. Because of this moment of time that we’re in, I really do feel we need to be focusing on how being black in Saratoga is extremely different than being white in Saratoga, and that’s not something people are necessarily ready to acknowledge, to work toward something better.

“I believe in my department, I believe in our professionalism. I also understand the families who have someone working in law enforcement wanting to show their support for what these officers have been doing, but unfortunately in the national context that immediately gets misconstrued or associated with racism or fascism or all sorts of political extremism. I know locally that wasn’t the intention at all, but it all led up to this horrible, stressful, awful moment where these two groups of people are screaming at each other, (figuratively) ripping each other apart, and it was so sad to watch because there’s no reason why one group should be pitted against another group. I think we all want a lot of the same things. To see how both groups expressed how emotional and angry they were was just a sad state of affairs. 

“Believe in law enforcement. Believe that black lives matter. I think it’s perfectly normal to have both those things live in the same person. But what I’m seeing is people thinking you can’t be both these things, and that’s disturbing and sad. I think we’ll get through it, but we have a lot of healing and work to do. 

IN 12 MONTHS TIME

“I hope we return to some sense of normalcy in terms of our behavior and how we interact with one another. I’m hoping that our health is good and that our economy is recovered. Life as we knew it. But, with this new and real threat of a Pandemic it’s going to be a challenge. We still don’t know everything we need to know about it. We still don’t have a vaccine. There are all these variables that need to be answered before we can say with confidence that we’re good, we’re safe.” 

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The Beatles and The Stones. Elvis to Metallica. Kiss to Dolly Parton, Guns ‘n’ Roses and Alice Cooper to The Who. There’s something for most everyone to see and interactively experience at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame exhibition, which opened this week at Universal Preservation Hall. The show runs through late September. 

Part of the Machine: Rock & Pinball beginning Sunday, July 26 for a two-month run. The interactive exhibit showcases rock-themed, playable pinball machines and combines them with merchandise and artifacts to explore the artistic portrayal of artists and bands. 

On display are 16 playable rock ‘n’ roll themed pinball machines in all, in addition to an assortment of music artifacts on display hailing from the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll. 

A “Tommy” pinball machine – owing a nod to the Who and the group’s opus Tommy is here, as is group guitarist Pete Townshend’s acoustic guitar – which he used to compose “Pinball Wizard” and several other songs for the ’Tommy,’ album, and which fortunately he did not smash. 

Making its debut as part of the exhibit is Alice Cooper’s new pinball machine –  “Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle,” a horror adventure game narrated by Cooper himself and featuring songs spanning Cooper’s career. The pinball machine is joined by the exhibit of the Alice Cooper group’s original electric chair show prop, upon which the band’s singer sat and performed on stages across the world in 1971. 

Additional items on display include Peter Criss of KISS’ drum set, Dolly Parton’s dress, memorabilia connected to the early days of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley, as well as a metallic ode tracing their legend to Metallica and Judas Priest.    

As for the pinball machines, which are playable, they deliver the bings, bongs, and dual flipper action polyrhythms associated with the likes of Elton John, KISS, AC/DC and others. 

UPH, a partner in the Proctors Collaborative, will sell tickets for 90-minute blocks throughout the run. Tickets will be available for admittance at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day and hours will be extended to include 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. admittance on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The event concludes on Saturday, Sept. 26. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and are available now at universalpreservationhall.org.    

“Part of the Machine: Rock & Pinball,” is presented at UPH by Adirondack Trust Company. 

UPH will follow Center for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State safety guidelines in establishing safety protocol for exhibit visitors. Each visitor, staff person and volunteer will be required to bring and wear a face mask and to wear provided gloves while playing the pinball machines. All individuals will also be required to maintaining proper social distancing. UPH staff will also take and record each individual’s temperature and procure proper tracing information, and sanitize all surfaces including handrails, light switches, elevators, exhibit pieces, restrooms and common surfaces before new groups are admitted. Capacity will be initially limited to 20 guests per time slot and will re-evaluated regularly. 

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Mike Dubb and his Beechwood Organization spent 35 years building 7,500 downstate homes.

For the first time in his career, Dubb is starting to build homes in Saratoga Springs, less than three miles from Saratoga Race Course, the thoroughbred racetrack he has been visiting since he was 17-years-old.

Dubb and Beechwood outlined details of the 53 homes they are building at the Oak Ridge development between the track and Saratoga Lake. Homes will range in size between 2,200 square feet and more than 6,000 square feet. They will be priced in the $850,000 to $2 million-plus range.

Now, Dubb is looking at other properties around the city for future projects.

He is convinced the Covid-19 pandemic will only increase the number of downstate New York and New Jersey residents who are interested in moving to or building a second home in Saratoga.

“I know people prior to Covid who were saying, ‘I want a better life or I want a town and something not so dense as New York City and the surrounding suburbs,’” Dubb said. “Home has taken on a new importance with people because of Covid.”

The founder of Beechwood Organization secured the remaining 53 lots at Oak Ridge from Jeffrey Snyder and Oak Ridge Development in April after looking at the 135-plus acre site on a whim in October.

“I really wasn’t looking to develop in Saratoga,” Dubb said.

The pastoral setting off Meadowbrook and Dyer Switch roads and the ability to construct four-, five- and six-bedroom homes with large porches, high-end finishes and garages tucked behind the houses caught his attention. Dubb sees the Oak Ridge by Beechwood project as a way to recreate what he describes as the “old Saratoga” architecture that exists along North Broadway and Union Avenue.

He expects the 53 homes will sell over the next three to four years, and he is not worried that the coronavirus pandemic and economic slowdown will jeopardize the project.

“Covid and the economic effects cannot take away the beauty and desirability of Saratoga,” Dubb said. “We may lose some restaurants and hotels. A few individuals may struggle. Long term, Saratoga is too strong ... One or two economic rough years does not a town make.”

Dubb, 64, started visiting Saratoga Springs as a teenager and became heavily involved in thoroughbred racing over the years. He is a seven-time leading owner at Saratoga Race Course and serves on the board of the New York Racing Association, the nonprofit that manages the track.

Dubb and Beechwood also are currently building a daycare center in Saratoga Springs that will be donated for use by children of the backstretch workers at Saratoga Race Course. They constructed and donated a similar facility at the Belmont Park thoroughbred track nearly 20 years ago.

Dubb, who has owned a home in Saratoga Springs for 10 years, remains bullish in the track and Saratoga Springs despite the fact that the pandemic is preventing Saratoga Race Course to operate without fans for the first time this year.

Published in Local News
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