Displaying items by tag: saratoga springs
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Healthcare workers are national heroes right now as they battle this scary thing called COVID-19, but life doesn’t stop for them, not even wedding planning.
Fine Affairs, a wedding and event planning company, has teamed up with several local companies to give one healthcare hero the wedding they deserve through their Wedding Relief Package.
“Our team was brainstorming about how we can offer our support to local front line healthcare workers and Laura, myself, and Geriann were on a call last Friday just going back and forth about what we could do and what ways we could help. We thought well why not give a package to a bride or groom who is fighting every day and could use a little light. Then we asked a few other vendors what their thoughts were and if they would be interested in contributing in any way and they all jumped in and said yes absolutely,” described Rachel from Fine Affairs.
THE PACKAGE INCLUDES:
• Decor & Rental Items from Fine Affairs
• Floral Credit from Surroundings Floral Studio
• Ceremony and Cocktail Hour Live Acoustic Music by Jay Yager
• Wedding Coordination Services fromWendy Lawrence Weddings & Events
• Bridal Hair & Makeup by Blush518
Total value of over $7,500!
This giveaway works on a nomination system: @FineAffairsInc and on Instagram @FineAffairs and tag your hero in the comments. The hero with the most tags is the winner, which will be announced on May 1st.
"We have all been surrounded by the wedding industry for a long time so we know that it's super stressful planning a wedding in general. As we were brainstorming, we couldn't imagine what one of these healthcare heroes is going through while their day to day is what it is right now and the wedding is not only on the back burner, but is still hanging over them in the planning process,” said project manager Laura Simiele from Communicate Differently.
All other partners in this endeavor are happy to provide their services:
"This is such an amazing opportunity to give back to our frontline workers. I am honored to be a part of this project and look forward to helping the couple plan the wedding of their dreams,” said Wendy from Wendy Lawrence Wedding and Events.
"The Surroundings Team would like to express our gratitude to our local health care heroes for putting your lives on the line to save lives in this very challenging time,” said the Surrounding Florals team.
"This is the very least we can do for some people who are always doing the most they can do. I couldn't be more honored to be part of the project,” Jay Yager stated.
"It's an honor and privilege to give back to the health care community that has tirelessly cared for the rest of us,” Gwen from Blush518 said.
Since the launch of this campaign, several other local businesses have expressed an interest in providing their services to the lucky Healthcare Hero.
Go to Facebook @FineAffairsInc and on Instagram @FineAffairs and nominate your #HealthcareHero today!
Tips and Tricks for Yard Work
by Opal Jessica Bogdan
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Taking the opportunity to venture outside and do yard work is a great way to split up monotony and allows everyone to enjoy the spring weather.
Not only does yard work double as a great exercise, but parents with children at home can use it as a learning opportunity. Mike Devine, landscape designer at Branches Landscape, recommended starting a compost bin or pile.
“People are stuck home, unfortunately, and looking to make the most of their time. A lot of us are homeschooling our children as well, so compost can have two purposes: to have a nice activity and to get the kids involved with some science,” Devine said.
To create a compost pile, Devine said a little space in the corner of a backyard is all that is needed.
The two major components of a compost pile are carbon and nitrogen. Devine said the ratio is three to one, carbon to nitrogen. A plethora of items have carbon in them, but leaves are the biggest things most people have an abundance of. Other items such as kitchen scraps can be used in the compost, such as coffee grounds, eggshells and any leftover vegetables.
Devine said there are varying degrees to a compost pile, ranging from a corner in the backyard to barrels or bins holding it. Placing the compost pile in a bin can help rotate the compost easier. Rotating helps drain any water pockets.
“If you do it correctly and don’t throw any ‘garbage’ into the compost, wild animals are never an issue,” Devine said.
Another tip Devine mentioned included cleaning areas that are normally skipped over, such a wood lines. He said going through and picking up fallen branches and raking leaves is a great way to reclaim that area as part of the landscape.
Branches Landscape is currently open. Devine said a small part of their business, property maintenance management, has been considered essential. Anything outside of spring cleanups and mowing lawn has been closed.
Creating a garden is another way to help spend time outside. Devine said gardens can be as little as 9-square-foot area on the patio of back deck. If this is the first garden, Devine recommended peas as an easy growing crop.
“Peas are a cool season crop that you could get the seeds at any hardware store. You can actually plant them now and not have to wait until Memorial Day for other more popular crops like tomatoes and what not. They need a little bit of cultivated ground and some sort of vertical support for them to grow up on. Watch out they grow quick,” Devine said.
Indoor gardening is another learning opportunity for children at home. Devine said starting squash, although they can grow large in size later on, can keep kids entertained as they watch their plant grow.
“Stick them in a window or under a grow light. Experiment and play around,” Devine said.
Drive-Through Garden Center
by Opal Jessica Bogdan
Saratoga Hewitt’s Garden Center. Photo by Jaclyn Cotter-Older.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Hewitt’s Garden Center will now offer a drive-through during COVID-19 for homeowner’s lawn and garden needs.
This past weekend, Hewitts in Saratoga opened their drive-through to offer customers a different way to purchase all their lawn care and garden products.
“It was really great, Jaclyn Cotter-Older, manager, said. “We are one of the only garden centers open in the area, so everyone was excited to get their flowers and their plants.”
The drive through will be opened weather permitting. Cotter-Older said once a car arrives for the drive-through, they bring out a menu to your car. While waiting in the pickup line, customers can pick out what products they want and pull through the drive-through to pickup the items. Cotter-Older said most of the menu consists of flowers, vegetables and the nursery stock the store offers up-front.
“We want to do this because we are hoping to have the business as last year, if not better. But with COVID- 19 we can’t have that many people in the store,” Cotter-Older said.
Amid COVID-19 restrictions, the store only allows a maximum of 20 people in their greenhouse. The garden center also offers curbside pickup.
“The curb side pickup is mostly for lawn care and fertilizers,” Cotter-Older said.
She added their website has every product listed, so customers can get an idea about what products they want before arriving to the garden center. Customers can order and pay online or through the phone.
“It’s just another option to still get what you want and not have to leave the comfort of your car,” Cotter-Older said.
All seven of Hewitt’s Garden Center locations will offer the drive-through weather permitting. The store also offers a lifetime guarantee on purchased trees and plants.
by Lorraine Hopes
Photo courtesy of Lorraine Hopes.
Self-distancing becomes difficult when produce runs out at home and a trip to the grocery store must be made. However, multiple trips as often as once a week is not recommended during COVID-19. Home growing vegetables is a great way to avoid travelling during this time once the fresh produce runs out at home.
Why buy lettuce when you can grow your own?
There are many advantages to growing your own lettuce. Growing lettuce is easy and can also be a great science project to do with your kids. Not only will it give you something fun to do while we are stuck home, in a month or so you will be blessed with a multitude of healthy fresh lettuce leaves, and have the satisfaction that you grew them yourself. No more trips to the grocery store for lettuce.
Here are some tips on growing your own lettuce:
Getting seeds, pot/container, spray bottle, and soil. - If you do not have the necessary planting items there are still seeds and planting supplies out there. Do a Google search for lettuce seeds and see what seed stores come up to order from. You can order online so you do not have to go out.
Any leaf lettuce varieties are good like black seeded simpson, grand rapids, mesclun, salad bowl mixes, and micro-greens.
Once you gather the materials, fill your clean pot/container with new soil and water. The soil needs to be moist. Sprinkle lettuce seeds on soil and cover with 1/8” to 1/4” soil, do not tamp down. Cover pot/container with plastic wrap and place in a south-facing window.
Check your soil everyday. Use a spray bottle to mist/water every morning or whenever the soil looks dry.
Your lettuce should sprout in 7 to 14 days, remove plastic wrap then and continue to water. Most lettuces will reach maturity in 45 to 55 days but you can pick them when they are small too.
To keep your lettuce growing all the time you can plant another container a week or two after the first has sprouted.
Have fun and bon appétit!
Dawn Oesch of the Saratoga Candy Co is making deliveries all over town!
She’ll be delivering Easter Candy through Saturday afternoon!
Free local delivery within 15 miles of Broadway!
Order through www.SaratogaSweets.com/Easter
Core training has become an extremely popular phrase lately but I’m not sure people truly understand what the actual function of the core is. So when I ask people what they feel they need the most work on, I will typically get the response that they have a weak core and need to strengthen it. And if I was to ask that same person how they would strengthen their core, they usually say something like sit-ups (which drives me crazy!). Now I’m not saying that sit-ups won’t get you stronger or work your core, but I will say that I don’t believe that it is the best way to train the core, because it isn’t how our core is designed to function.
From a functional standpoint, the joints in our body are either designed to be mobile or stable. If it is mobile (think hips and ankles), then we want to move it freely through different ranges of motion. If it is stable (think knees and lower back/core), then we want to limit movement in that joint as much as possible. So when we think about the core and our lower back, we want to limit the movement, so doing endless amounts of sit-ups (think flexing the low back) and crunches might not be the optimal exercises for functionally strengthening the core.
The ANTI approach has become a very popular concept (and for good reason) in the health and fitness industry. This approach towards core training is to make people more aware of how the core truly functions by making people look at the core as anti-movement muscles. So we want to do exercises that challenge us to not move those muscles such as planks and avoid exercises where we do move them such as sit-ups.
Alright everyone, now that I told you how the core actually works, I am going to give you some of our favorite core exercises that we perform at Gunning Elite Training on a regular basis. These exercises follow the principles of the ANTI approach in different planes of motion. I think it is so important to train our bodies the way they are designed to work rather than against, so we can live a long and healthy life. Stay strong and keep GET’n after it!
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Hospitals have become the epicenter of COVID-19 around the world, and while most feelings concerning COVID-19 include fear and anxiety with the unknown, two women at the center of it all boiled their experience thus far with COVID-19 down to one word: heartwarming.
Dr. Jacqueline Smith, hospitalist, is a member of Saratoga Hospital Medical Group – Inpatient Medicine at Saratoga Hospital. She works with Clinical Coordinator Christina (Chrissy) Citarella, BSN, RN. Citarella is a Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse working with inpatients. Both women have worked countless hours since COVID-19 hit the community in early March.
On January 20, 2020 a 35-year-old man returned to his home in Washington state after recently travelling to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. That date marks the first recorded case of the virus in the United States. News across the states travelled fast, and Citarella said the first change she noticed in her usual daily routine was the unknown surrounding the virus at the time.
“Initially, when we started hearing about the COVID patients—that the hospital would potentially be seeing these patients—we had a lot of questions, a lot of uncertainty, and the staff just wanting to know what was our plan, what are we doing here,” Citarella said.
Both Citarella and Smith said they started self-isolation early on due to their jobs in the healthcare industry. Citarella said she wanted to keep herself, family, and co-workers safe and took to extreme social distancing as the best approach.
In her own personal life, Smith said she experienced the same initial changes the rest of the world had, and started to self-isolate weeks before the rest of the community on principle, because she was working in the hospital.
“I considered myself high risk and took every precaution possible to avoid being with other people,” Smith said.
In her professional life, Smith said COVID-19 is a daily-changing thing. Since beginning to work with patients who had the disease, everything changed in the way they practiced. Daily conversations involving personal protective equipment (PPE) have happened regularly since.
“We have constant conversations about PPE and how to keep ourselves safe. We’ve seen a ton of innovation, which is so heartwarming, in terms of different ideas for PPE. It’s been very useful. So every day is a brand new experience, really,” Smith said.
Angelo Calbone, President and CEO of Saratoga Hospital, shared his perspective concerning the hospital and how the institution has worked as a collective with other hospitals. Calbone said they coordinate through an early morning call with all the institutions throughout the region as a daily check-in. During that call, they compare notes, share approaches and learnings, and get a sense of what each institution is experiencing and how they’re managing it.
“For the first time in my career, the entire region is functioning, in some ways, as a single health system and not really as competitors. It’s been a satisfying, but unique, experience that I think is helping prepare all the institutions, including Saratoga, really to be in the best position,” Calbone said. “As a collective, we have discussed and implemented changes, such as checking temperatures at all of our doors and timing the curtailment of visitors…we did that in somewhat of a coordinated fashion. We shared how we’re each using our protective equipment for our staff, testing the science and keeping an eye toward what makes our staff safest.”
While the virus forces the community apart, Smith said she was profoundly struck by the mixed emotions COVID-19 brought with it. She said working with a disease that is known as scary—and not yet over—creates questions concerning the unknowns of the virus. However, along with that feeling of fear and sadness the virus creates, Smith countered, “People truly need us, so that is rewarding.”
Calbone has seen that rewarding sense reflected in hospital workers. He couldn’t think of an adjective strong enough to describe the extent to which Saratoga Hospital staff have invested their commitment to patients. He said the time and energy spent in having good plans in place appears to be paying off well, and the staff has left him in awe.
“Their focus, calmness, and ability to take this work on while keeping their heads up has just been…we always knew we had a great staff but really seeing them work through this has been just impressive,” Calbone said.
Smith reflected the same ideas as she mentioned her own amazement with not only the nursing staff, but with other staff, such as the kitchen and cleaning crews. She described everyone as being high quality, caring, and willing to help with whatever anyone needs, creating an amazing atmosphere at work.
A key part in that atmosphere is the interaction both Smith and Citarella have with patients. Smith described her interactions as heartwarming, stating patients appreciate them in return and feel concerned about the staff, which she said is highly unusual.
“It’s a comfort to me. As much as we care, they’re caring as well,” Citarella said.
Smith said, “It also feels very heartwarming to me, caring about those patients. I want to cheer when someone leaves the hospital—I’m just so happy for them.”
Saratoga County reported its first COVID-19 case on March 7, 2020. On March 27, 2020, Saratoga County reported its first COVID-19 death. Despite the span of increasing reported cases over the last month, Calbone said social distancing is key to helping stop the spread. As of April 7, 2020, the Saratoga County Office of Emergency Services reported 167 confirmed cases in the county.
“Social distancing and staying at home are the very best things the public can do right now. Our impression is that it’s working and having a positive impact. It hasn’t stopped this, but we do think we are seeing signs that the rate of growth is slowing, which allows all the regional hospitals to better manage the influx. We appreciate what the community is doing, we can tell, and we think it’s working,” Calbone said.
THE UNKNOWN & THE UNCERTAINTY
After reporting the county’s first case one month ago, both Smith and Citarella noticed fear isn’t playing a large part in the virus anymore. They said they no longer see fear in patient’s or co-worker’s eyes as they work with the virus.
“This is very scary, but I have to say, the staff has done an absolutely phenomenal job being extremely professional and calm. I don’t see fear in people’s eyes. I think everyone just wants to help and that is pretty amazing,” Citarella said.
Both women said they feel very safe while working at the hospital, but that feeling changes as soon as they step out of that environment. Citarella is living at her home with her husband, practicing social distancing even inside the home. Besides an occasional trip to the grocery store, Citarella said she keeps to herself.
“I feel very safe [at work]. Being out in the grocery store—it’s the unknown and the uncertainty there,” Citarella said.
Smith said she currently lives by herself, so while it’s easy to self-isolate, the biggest challenge she faces is venturing out to get groceries.
“I have not been to a grocery store in probably a month, and I’ve managed to order things online, but I can’t do that anymore. They’re just not available. I’m going to have to go to a grocery store. I’ve put it off for three weeks now,” Smith said. “I’m becoming a really creative cook,” Smith finished with a laugh.
But it’s no laughing matter for those who travel to the grocery store. From being exposed safely to COVID-19 on a daily basis, Smith doesn’t feel that she should be in a grocery store but simply has no other choice. To keep the safe feeling they have inside the hospital when they are out in public places, such as grocery stores, both women said social distancing is key in uncontrolled environments.
“What influences people to do the right thing? [By not social distancing] people are not choosing the right thing. Why do they do that…I don’t know,” Smith said.
Calbone reflected those same feelings about the safe environment the hospital generates. He said a combination of limited building access, proper hand washing hygiene, and masking has all contributed to create that protected environment.
“We have long-established protocols and products here on how we disinfect and isolate areas. The public can’t access this building anymore. General visitors can’t come anymore. Other businesses and locations can’t necessarily make that work. If they don’t want the public accessing their space, they can’t do business. Whereas, we can keep our staff here taking care of patients, restrict a lot of traffic, and still do what we need to do,” Calbone said.
Calbone encouraged the public to continue proper social distancing and recommended masks should be used as well in public places. He said the masks provide more protection when it’s on someone who is sick. If everyone in public spaces uses masks, it can create a more comfortable sense, similar to the atmosphere the hospital holds.
At the end of the day, Calbone said personal health comes first. While practicing social distancing, proper hand washing, and self-isolating all contribute toward limiting the spread of COVID-19, people still need to pay attention to their health.
“If people need healthcare, they should not be afraid to access healthcare. The emergency room is open; we can still manage almost any case here in the organization. We would hate for people who need care to be staying away, allowing their conditions to worsen because they somehow think they shouldn’t or can’t access the hospital. We know that perception probably exists, but that really isn’t the case,” Calbone said.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The idea came to him, as good ideas sometimes do, while otherwise engaged in the seeming mundanities of everyday life.
Jacob Hopper and Dempsey, a yellow Lab, were out walking through Saratoga Springs. Hopper had started up the Evander and Louise lifestyle and travel brand, just as everything else around him began locking down. March 1 was a heckuva time to launch a new business.
“Horrible timing,” Hopper admits. A lot of the work is centered on the partnerships he created with 17 different local restaurants.
“We know eating-out and taking-out can be a luxury for some people. And a lot of us are on limited incomes right now, watching the budget, but it’s really important that we support our small local businesses as much as we can. I think the more we can support them, the better we will be when we come out of this,” Hopper says.
“Well, we launched and then this all happened. I started thinking: what can I do?” The answer came to him while out walking with Dempsey. “Tag Your Take Out. It just popped into my head. I thought it might be a good way to promote these restaurants who really need help.”
The way the campaign works is this: people going out for take-out food snap a photo or capture a video of their excursion and post it to Instagram, tagging Evander and Louise at @e.l.saratoga and using the hashtag #tagyourtakeout.
In addition to the photos making the rounds of social media and adding to a sense of community, Hopper’s E&L selects four winners every week from the posts. Each of the four receive a $50 gift card redeemable at one the group’s 17 restaurants. A $10 gratuity will also be provided to the restaurant, and for each $50 gift card given away, a $50 donation will be made to Franklin Community Center.
“We’re buying the gift cards. I didn’t want to ask the restaurants to give us gift cards because they’re already hurting enough, and we’re also including a $10 gratuity to the business because I think it’s important to remember that there are still people working. They might not be coming to your table like they usually do, but they are putting themselves at risk,” Hopper says.
“With each gift card we give away, we’re also giving a $50 donation to Franklin Community Center as well – because the whole concept from the beginning was: support our local restaurants and support families who are in need, because the families can have other basic needs,” he says. “We’ve got 22 giveaways funded, so currently that’s $1,100 in gift cards and $1,100 to Franklin Community Center.”
Franklin Community Center – which is located on Franklin Street – is a non-profit organization providing basic necessities and services to less fortunate individuals and families in Saratoga.
“Anybody can tag their take-out at any locally-owned restaurants, and we’re certainly encouraging people to have fun with it,” says Hopper, adding that the support of sponsors, such American Natural Gas, help make the gift-card drawing possible. “It’s focused on Saratoga, but we’ve gotten some who have tagged in Ballston Spa, and we’ve gotten some from Albany. Post a photo of it, tag us and tag the restaurant and you can be entered in the drawing.”
Each week on Wednesday afternoon four winners are picked, and Hopper says he anticipates staging the drawings and gift card winners for at least the next couple of weeks.
“We want people to go and support local restaurants. The restaurants – obviously they’re all hurting and the feedback they’ve given me is they’re doing what they can to stay afloat and to keep their staff as much as is possible.”
For more information about the Evander and Louise #tagyourtakeout initiative, and a list of the Saratoga eateries where the winning gift cards are redeemable, go to: evanderandlouise.com/tag-your-takeout.
Of the 26 dozen eggs sent out, 12 dozen were hatched at the 4-H training center, a learning facility in Ballston Spa. Photos provided.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — While schools across the state closed their doors and people self-isolated in their homes, 26 dozen chicken eggs wanted to break out of their “home” and hatch during COVID-19.
The fertilized eggs were sent out to participating elementary schools in Saratoga County as a part of the 4-H outreach program. The program allows classrooms to experience the 21-day development of a chicken egg. Brieanna Hughes, program coordinator for Saratoga County 4-H animal science, said a surprising amount of eggs still hatched despite being moved from schools.
The eggs were due to hatch on March 18, the week most schools announced their closings. Hughes said she reached out to schools that prior weekend to ask if teachers were willing to take the eggs home, or offered to pick them up and bring them to their facility to hatch.
“Because a lot of teachers were being told they couldn’t go into their schools so I didn’t want anyone to be burdened with this,” Hughes said.
Despite school closings, only 12 dozen eggs were collected from schools and hatched at the training center in Ballston Spa. Of the 26 dozen eggs sent out, over 75 percent hatched which Hughes was surprised by.
Hughes said the hatch rate was by chance, and added that she expected a lower hatch rate simply from moving the chicken eggs. Transportation of the eggs is not recommended due to drastic temperature changes. However, the unstable period for the eggs is earlier in the development as well as the day of hatching if a small movement occurs.
“We almost got them at the ideal time. It isn’t ideal to move them at all, but it was pretty cool to have such a good hatch rate,” Hughes said. “What that means is that the school did a really good job taking care of the eggs for the first 18 days and then we were able to finish that out.”
Seeing the eggs develop for the 21 days allows students to learn about the development and embryology. Hughes said in the beginning, the program attains the fertilized eggs and provides the schools with incubators and equipment. 4-H hosts a small teacher training where they pick up all the needed materials and bring them to their classroom. Not having a set curriculum, schools are at liberty to teach what they want.
“But our program is incubation and embryology so that is what they’re learning about, the development of an organism. They get to candle the eggs and actually see the changes in the embryo. They can see the first veins coming and an eye during the forming of the head,” Hughes said.
Once the eggs are hatched, teachers are at liberty to keep them or give them pack to the program.
“A lot of teachers have friends that want chickens, but we want to make sure there is a resource so we also provide someone to take them,” Hughes said.
She added that these eggs were a part of the first rotation for the hatching program. The second session was anticipated to start at the end of April, but Hughes said they’re waiting to see how the self-distancing plays out. The participating schools for this sessions included Schuylerville, Arongen Elementary in the Shenendehowa school district and Greenberg Child Care Center.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — They stood several feet apart from one another at a noisy intersection where Broadway meets Lake Avenue on a Tuesday morning that marked Day 18 of the city’s declaration as a state of emergency.
Three months into her new job, the city’s Public Safety Commissioner took her turn at the portable lectern stationed in front of a City Hall under renovation, but where the tools of its reconstruction have been muted.
“This is not the time for sleep-overs, play-dates, or dinner parties,” instructed commissioner Robin Dalton.
One of the essential keys of trying to keep people healthy is social distancing – that is: remaining six feet from all other people when in public, and refraining from nonessential gatherings – be it socially, recreationally, or otherwise. Saratoga Springs is taking up Gov. Andrew Cuomo's guidelines - “These are not helpful hints, these are legal provisions” – and implementing those provisions.
“As a city we will be enforcing those through warnings, ticketing and fines if needed, because your actions are that important and our health and safety depends on them,” Dalton said. “The longer people break the rules, the longer we are going to be in this situation. How we come out the other side depends on you – the public…we’re going to need the help of every resident in our city to help slow the spread of coronavirus.”
The gathering included city Mayor Meg Kelly, Police Chief Shane Crooks, Fire Chief Joe Dolan, and Saratoga Hospital President Angelo Calbone – the latter of whom explained that the hospital had 10 COVID-19 cases in the building, and that they possessed sufficient Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE’s, to take care of patients and staff at this time. On Thursday, April 2, The Saratoga County Department of Public Health announced county-wide that there were 139 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Saratoga County with 19 of those individuals hospitalized at this time.
Saratoga Hospital has also joined the "statewide hospital system" as proposed by Gov. Cuomo, following the Covid-19 outbreak. "To that end, we are comforted to know that if Saratoga Springs needs it, help will be there from other New York providers," Mayor Kelly said on April 3. The same afternoon, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, NY-21, released a statement to say she was "very concerned about Gov. Cuomo’s announcement regarding his plan to sign an executive order to shift ventilators from Upstate to Downstate New York." Stefanik's district includes a portion of the city of Saratoga Springs, as well as municipalities east, west and north of the city.
“The North Country comprises the largest number of seniors of any Congressional District in New York State, the most vulnerable age group to COVID-19. Our critical needs and vulnerabilities must be considered....our rural hospitals are already very limited in resources and we must ensure Upstate New York’s needs for testing supplies and ventilators are fully met."
Mayor Kelly said the city’s parks are still safe for people to go to - as long as social distancing measures are observed. “We want to keep separated right now, and the last thing we want to do is close parks.” One day later, on Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo announced, due to city residents repeated violation of distancing rules, playgrounds in New York City will be closed to the public, although open space areas will remain open.Local authorities in Saratoga Springs re-iterated on Thursday that while the playgrounds and basketball courts where high-density congregation may occur are closed, the parks remain open.
During his daily briefing from the State Capitol in Albany, Gov. Cuomo warned that rules of social distancing will be in place for a while. “We’re still going up the mountain, and that’s where the battle will be in 14 to 21 days, depending on who you believe. That’s the apex,” the governor said. “We still have to come down the other side of the mountain (before everything re-opens).”
During a mid-week teleconference with the press, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who represents the 21st District, said she is concerned about non-essential travel. “We want to mitigate non-essential travel from anywhere in the state. We have rural hospitals that are already in challenging positions. If the numbers continue to go up or surge, our rural hospitals are not in the same position as some of the hospitals downstate, in terms of bed-count.”
While the renovation of City Hall has stopped, for the time being, the building of the multi-story parking garage adjacent to the Saratoga Springs City Center has received approval, with some restrictions, to continue with its construction, building for the time when visitors will once again flock to the city and engage in its multitude of events, conferences, and happenings.
Site-specific COVID-19 procedures will be met during the building process and the continuation of the Flat Rock Parking Structure is vital for the city’s ability to recover from the damages of the pandemic, City Center Executive Director Ryan McMahon said in a statement. “The Saratoga Springs City Center Authority’s action is in keeping with guidelines issued by Empire State Development (ESD) and is an essential infrastructure project.”
Financially, the city is bracing for a multi-million dollar loss in revenue due to the pandemic and the resultant closing of all but “essential” businesses, the potential cancellation of major public events, and the stifling of tourism.
At this time, the city is considering a scenario of a $7.8 million loss of revenue for the first half of 2020, and potentially a total 2020 year-end revenue shortfall of $16 million, Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan estimated in March. With a 2020 General Operating Budget projecting total 2020 revenues of approximately $48.7 million, the scenario equates to a 33% shortfall in 2020 revenue to what was previously anticipated.
“We are proceeding with caution regarding how to address this loss-of-revenue scenario. Both over- and under-estimating our response has consequences,” Commissioner Madigan said in a statement. “Given the city’s good financial position and excellent community partnerships, we have many options, including cash-on-hand, healthy reserves, borrowing, various bonding tools, and shared services…It is too soon to determine what combination of these efforts will fit our needs. But it is not too soon to state that all options will be considered very carefully.”
The potential finance losses may be tempered somewhat should the city receive state for hosting a VLT casino. Earlier this year, the city, along with other state municipalities, was warned it might lose approximately $2.35 million in that aid. On March 31, the city received the hopeful news that the aid may be restored. Madigan said the restoration of that VLT Impact Aid in the 2020-2021 State Budget would be a very positive outcome, particularly as the city works through COVID-19 related fiscal uncertainties.
“We are very hopeful that the city will be receiving its VLT aid based on the budget bill that was published today,” said Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, via phone late Tuesday afternoon. “The bill was published and is now aging for us to vote on it, and the cut that the governor had proposed in his Executive Budget has been removed. So, we are hopeful that the legislature will soon be voting on that bill and the aid will be available to the city.”
However, Woerner echoed Madigan’s sentiments regarding the restoration of that $2.35 million to Saratoga Springs. “You know, it’s not done until it’s done,” she said.