Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, an ad hoc committee formed in February and charged with suggesting a potentially permanent site for a homeless shelter and navigation center, approved its final report to the city at its meeting Nov. 27 at City Hall. 

The 11-member Task Force was initiated In February 2023 by city Mayor Ron Kim, and saw its board appointed by most of the currently seated City Council members and Supervisors.   

The ad hoc group began by evaluating more than two dozen potential sites across the city, eventually whittling that number down to a handful of locations, with a 3.7-acre lot on Lake Avenue/ State Route 29 ultimately being selected as the primary suggested site for a permanent homeless shelter. The vacant lot is located between the Northway overpass and a Stewart’s Shop near Weibel Avenue, and had earlier this year been listed for sale at $800,000. 

Alternative sites highly ranked included a parcel at 153 South Broadway. That property stands in close proximity to two temporary shelters in the city, but the owner is reluctant to sell the property; 1.6 acres at 3290 Route 9 / Top Hill motel; a 1-acre property at North and East Ave., and 260 Maple Ave./ Gateway Motel, which extends to 1.5 acres.

Each of the potential venues suggested offer some set of challenges that includes everything from Land Use Board review to area variances required (although the latter would seem unnecessary were the city to outright purchase the property), proximity or lack thereof to venues currently providing social services, access to public transportation, and, given the track record of previous attempts made: opposition from some area residents when a site is ultimately selected.   

Finalizing a location and identifying funding sources - including what level of support may be provided by the county – are still matters to be discussed. Those discussions are anticipated to continue in the new year with the new city government. Two of the five members of the City Council, and one of two Supervisors representing the city at the county level, will be seated in those positions for the first time. 

“Our next step will be to reach out to the mayor-elect (John Safford) in end of January beginning of February – they meet the first and third Tuesdays, so hopefully in early February we can be in front of the new City Council,” said Committee co-chair Tom Roohan. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS —City police are asking for the public’s help regarding a suspected burglary they say occurred early Tuesday morning. 

At approximately 5 a.m. on Dec. 12, officers were dispatched to Lola Saratoga at 372 Broadway where they discovered a glass door broken and merchandise missing from the store that, according to the store’s website, is known for its luxury designer consignment handbags, accessories and shoes. 

“The Investigations Division was contacted and processed the scene and have conducted interviews of witnesses to the burglary,” police said in a statement released this afternoon. “Video of the incident show that the suspects entered and left the business in under two minutes.” 

Authorities are focusing for two male suspects who arrived and left in a dark colored sedan, leaving the scene driving north on Broadway towards the Route 50/ Route 9 arterial.

Anyone who may have information regarding the incident is asked to contact Investigator John Guzek at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Additionally, any video footage relevant to the case can be uploaded at:

SARATOGA SPRINGS —The Saratoga Springs Participatory Budgeting Committee will be holding online public voting for the second cycle of project proposals through Tuesday, Dec. 12. 

Saratoga Springs residents over the age of 18 are able to cast their ballot towards their favorite projects.

The Participatory Budgeting process encourages local community members to participate in the City’s budget process by voting on how to spend a portion of up to 0.25% of the City’s total budget - approximately $153,000, give or take. Final funding decisions will be made by the City Council in
late December.

The Committee received a total of 15 submissions for Cycle Two; with proposed projects ranging from smaller-scale recreation initiatives to larger community-wide accessible programming. 

There are 5 total projects on the ballot for potential funding: Bocce Ball Court, Saratoga Farmer’s Market, Opera Saratoga Family Programming, Solar Charging Bench for the Saratoga Springs Public Library, and Lake Avenue School Centennial Celebration. 

Bocce Ball: Construction of one (1) bocce ball court in Veteran’s Memorial Park. Project submitted by individual. Estimated Cost: $13,000. Location: Veteran’s Memorial Park, 10 Adams Road.

Opera Saratoga Family Programming: Produce five (5) outreach opera performances in Saratoga Springs and the State Park for children and family’s education and enjoyment. Project submitted by Opera Saratoga. Estimated Cost: $15,000. Location: Opera Saratoga, 19 Roosevelt Drive.

Lake Ave School Centennial Celebration: Celebrate Lake Ave Schools’ upcoming centennial by recording oral histories and memories, photograph mementos and produce an exhibition for display at the Saratoga Springs Public Library (location pending). Project submitted by Lake Avenue PTA. Estimated Cost: $10,000. Location: Lake Avenue School, 126 Lake Ave. 

Solar Charging Bench for Public Library: Provide a convenient and clean energy charging source for electronic devices to Saratoga Springs residents and visitors. Located outside of the Saratoga Springs Public Library. Project submitted by Saratoga Springs Public Library. Estimated Cost: $11,000. Location: Saratoga Springs Public Library, 49 Henry St.

Saratoga Farmers’ Market Program Support: Purchasing tents, wagons and tables for the Saratoga Springs Farmer’s Market and aiding in marketing expenses. Project submitted by Saratoga Farmers’ Market Association (organization). Estimated Cost: $12,000. Location: Saratoga Springs Farmer’s Market, 112 High Rock Ave.

“This past year we’ve seen a lot of our PB projects from Cycle One come online – they’ve had a tremendously positive impact on our community - from providing free arts programming and recreational curling to beautifying our city streets,” Commissioner of Finance Minita Sanghvi said in a statement. “We were excited to see a whole new set of project ideas for Cycle Two and are continuing to look for community input as to which projects they want to see funded.” 

To vote, visit go to: 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city long-called The August Place To Be was granted a late springtime addition to that moniker with this week’s official announcement naming Saratoga Race Course as the staging ground for June’s four-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. 

“Saratoga now adds to its storied history by hosting the third leg of the Triple Crown,” Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Dec. 6, inspiring thoughts of warmer climes on a day when the local community saw the gentle tumble of errant flurries.  “It’s a win for horseracing and for the Capital Region to have the excitement and the ability to host the four-day Festival in June at America’s most historic track.” 

The four-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will be staged Thursday, June 6 through Sunday, June 9. The Belmont Stakes race will run Saturday, June 8. No changes are anticipated regarding Saratoga’s 40-day summer meet. 

The relocation of the stakes race and its associated four-day festival will allow for the uninterrupted construction of a new Belmont Park on Long Island. And while construction is anticipated to go on at least through the 2025 Belmont Stakes season, only the 2024 festival at Saratoga was announced this week. 

“It is a temporary situation, and we hope to be even further ahead of schedule so we can end sooner, but it’s good to at least have an alternative to shutting down Belmont completely, and can take the races elsewhere in the state,” Gov. Hochul said at a presser shortly after the Belmont announcement.   

The four-day festival at Saratoga Race Course will include 23 stakes races in total with purses totaling $9.7 million.

The New York Racing Association began signaling earlier this year that some Belmont races would be shifted to Saratoga. Statements punctuated with optimism from the political and tourism worlds alike were issued with a ferocity shortly after Wednesday morning’s announcement, showcasing the affair as a driver of tourism, a major boon for the economy, an inspiration to partner with new stakeholders and something to further showcase the region’s world-class attractions. 

A different track brings with it additional changes:  due to the configuration of Saratoga’s main track, the Belmont Stakes will be contested at 1 1/4 miles in 2024 rather than the traditional 1 1/2 miles, pending the approval of the North American Graded Stakes Committee.

Inaugurated in 1867 at Jerome Park Racetrack and moved in 1905 to Belmont Park, the Belmont Stakes has notably provided Secretariat’s 31-length victory in 1973 and American Pharoah successfully ending a 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015. The race was staged at Aqueduct Racetrack from 1963-1967 when Belmont Park last underwent significant renovations. 

Following the conclusion of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga, the NYRA circuit will return to Aqueduct Racetrack for the remainder of the spring meet before racing shifts to Saratoga for the annual 40-day summer meet beginning Thursday, July 11. The fall meet customarily held at Belmont Park will again be shifted to Aqueduct Racetrack in 2024 while construction of a new Belmont Park continues.

Ticket packages and pricing for the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course will be available in early 2024.

Thursday, 07 December 2023 13:47

New Developments Under Consideration

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Applications under consideration this week by the Saratoga Springs Design Review Board include: 

•Historic Review of a two-story addition at 395 Broadway. Prime Group Holdings founder Robert Moser has been seeking city Land Use Board approval to add two stories to the company’s existing two-story brick masonry office building at 395 Broadway. The combined four-story building would serve as office space for Prime Group Holdings, with a retail store component on the first floor. 

The red-brick building located on the southwest corner of Broadway and Division Street was originally developed in 2000 to house Borders Books & Music, and in in 2018 was purchased by Ed Mitzen and the Fingerpaint Marketing firm. It was sold to Prime Group Holdings for $11 million in July. 

•Architectural Review of exterior modifications including roof replacement, porch reconstruction, and select window infill and replacement at 118 Woodlawn Ave., regarding the Woodlawn Club exterior modification project. 

•177 South Broadway Stewarts Demolition and Redevelopment: Determination of Historic/Architectural significance for an existing single-family residence. Consideration of SEQRA lead agency, and Advisory Opinion to the Zoning Board of Appeals regarding the demolition of the existing single-family residence and redevelopment of a convenience store and fueling station. 

BALLSTON SPA — During its monthly meeting, held Nov. 21 at the county complex in Ballston Spa, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors accepted $426,000 from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and approved an agreement with Shelters of Saratoga that will see those funds used for S.O.S. expenses to operate this winter’s Code Blue shelter in Saratoga Springs. 

The emergency cold-weather Code Blue shelter will this year, for the first time, be located at the former Grand Union Motel at 120 South Broadway, in Saratoga Springs. 

Motivated to action in the wake of the death of a city woman exposed to a winter’s elements on a December night in 2013, a temporary homeless emergency shelter was launched in Saratoga Springs that Christmas Eve at St. Peter’s Parish Center. The Code Blue shelter has found temporary homes across the city in the years since during wintertime. 

Of the $426,000 the State is sending to Saratoga County, the Board of Supervisors recommended up to $399,979 be spent in contract with S.O.S. for expenses associated with sheltering the homeless during this fall and winter season, and that any additional costs up to $26,021 may be used by the Department of Social Services for potential costs incurred for sheltering individuals or families not otherwise eligible for emergency housing and not able to be housed at the Code Blue Shelter.

2024 County Budget Proposal Tops $400 Million; Public Hearing Dec. 6, Plan to Adopt Dec. 13

A public hearing on the revised tentative 2024 Saratoga County Budget will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 6, at the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 40 McMaster St., Ballston Spa.

More than $1.5 million approved for work at county animal shelter

The County Board approved the acceptance of a near $1.5 million bid proposal from the John W. Danforth Company of Clifton Park for work to be conducted at the Saratoga County Animal Shelter. 

The work relates to the mechanical construction of the HVAC Phase 1 project at the county animal shelter. The $1,495,890 was the lowest bid the county had received. 

The Board additionally approved an agreement with B & B Premier Contracting, LLC of Hudson Falls, for work relating to the electrical construction of the HVAC Phase 1 project at the animal shelter at a cost of up to $84,000, and an agreement with DiGesare Mechanical Incorporated of Schenectady, for plumbing construction related to the same project at a cost not to exceed $57,000. 

County Sheriff’s Office agreement to provide additional police services in Malta, Clifton Park, Halfmoon, Wilton

A contract extension was approved with the Town of Malta through 2024 for additional police services to be provided by the Sheriff’s Office. The agreement calls for one patrol from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., and one patrol 4 p.m. – midnight, seven days a week. 

The contract, at $326,580.66, includes reimbursement by the Town of Malta for all County expenses including salaries, benefits, training, all transportation expenses and patrol cars. 

Additional agreements were also separately approved with the towns of Clifton Park (2 patrols, 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. & 4 p.m. – midnight, 7 days a week at a town cost just over $653,000); Halfmoon (1 patrol, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tues.-Sun., and 4 p.m.-midnight Tues.-Sat. at just over $259,000), and Wilton (1 patrol, 8 a.m. -4 p.m. Mon.-Fri., just over $125,000).    

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The message is simple: Do something fun, get healthy and get rewarded in exchange for your efforts. 

“It’s a No Excuses – Just Start” clinic, says program coordinator Billy Yaiser. “And this is something everyone can do.”

How it works: participants sign up in advance and attend one clinic a week for about an hour at a time, where low-impact physical activity games will be on the agenda. Attendees earn points for their attendance, and those reward points earn certificates redeemable at area eateries or stores.

The program is anticipated to begin in mid-January and Yaiser is eyeing the Saratoga Springs recreation facility on Vanderbilt Avenue as the program staging ground where a flexible schedule of events are expected to be held weekday nights and Sundays. 

The pre-holiday season is an appropriate time to be thinking about some physical activity in the immediate post-holiday, Yaiser says. 

“You go at your own pace, and it will give you a little cardio without killing you,” he says with a laugh.  “Also, a portion of the proceeds will go to fund programs for disabled community members,” says Yaiser, who as founder of Second Chance Sports has helped coordinate events and fitness therapy clinics across the state for several decades, as well as teaching sports to the mentally and physically disabled. 

Each clinic session can host about a dozen people. Activities will help with hand-eye coordination and balance, and the physical activity involved is something anyone can do, regardless of age or physical condition, Yaiser says. 

For more information about sign-ups and clinic times call or text Yaiser 518-226-5888. Everyone who signs up will receive a special Saratoga present that can’t be purchased anywhere else, Yaiser said. 

BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County Law & Finance Committee approved the distribution of $50,000 to the city of Saratoga Springs for the reconfiguration of the Woodlawn Avenue Parking Lot and Garage entrance on Connolly Way, and the distribution of $25,000 to Saratoga PRIDE is in support of the Rainbow Garden Club.

Law and Finance Committee approval is required for a partial distribution of funds for projects identified by the Supervisors of Saratoga Springs.

The motion was made by Saratoga Springs County Supervisor and Law & Finance Committee member Matt Veitch. Law & Finance Committee member and Wilton Town Supervisor John Lant cast the lone vote against. 

“Regarding the Saratoga County Discretionary Funds disbursement that Supervisor Veitch and myself have, we will be donating $25,000 to Saratoga PRIDE specifically for the purpose of queer-use programming offered in Saratoga Springs,” city Supervisor Tara Gaston said. 

“They partner currently with the Saratoga YMCA and Pitney Farms as well as the Unitarian Universalist Church and Create Studios – all in Saratoga Springs. This will allow them to broaden and to provide additional programming for our youth that fall under the queer umbrella in the city.”     

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A ceremonial groundbreaking was staged in August 2022 atop the lands where the city’s long-awaited fire station no. 3 would be built. Thirteen months later, an unexpected ground-breaking of sorts was discovered that will push the official opening of the Henning Road fire station into the new year.   

“We have some good news, and we have some bad news,” Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino said, regarding the status of Fire Station No. 3. 

“The good news is the training facility portion of Fire Station 3 is being used, even as we speak,” Montagnino said. A simulated Ladder Rescue component built into the apparatus bays provides a training area for firefighters, allowing them to train in the city and readily available to respond to any calls. 

The bad news - “a minor hiccup that’s being taken care of,” the commissioner said, involves cracks in the concrete pads that lead to the apparatus bays in both the front and back of the station building that need to be remedied. 

Concrete in the ‘aprons’ leading to the apparatus bays was poured in May 2023. Cracks were discovered in September and tests conducted one month later. “It was determined they are not surface cracks, but rather go all the way through the eight inches of concrete that form the apron,” Montagnino said. There are “several competing theories” regarding what may have caused the slabs to fail that include everything from waterproofing issues to the depth of the reinforcement bars. 

The city’s two currently existing stations are located in the downtown district, and on the west side. 

The development of a third station followed a generation’s worth of false starts, hard stops, floated land-swaps and a lawsuit. The Henning Road fire station will improve emergency response to the eastern plateau in Saratoga Springs specifically, as well as provide added coverage for the city in general. 

Contractors are slated to begin remedying the situation this week, at no cost to the city, with work estimated to be completed in mid-December. That will be followed by a curing period of approximately four weeks before a heavy load may be imposed, effectively pushing the timeline of completion to January.   

Town of Ballston 

Population: 11,831. 

Supervisor: Eric Connolly (R) ran unopposed in Nov. 2023 election. 

Town Board Meetings - 6:30 p.m. on the 2nd and last Tuesdays of every month. Meetings at Town Hall, 323 Charlton Road, Ballston Spa.

2024 Preliminary Budget: $13.98 million total appropriation. 

Next Town Board agenda meeting: 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28. 

Geography, General Information, as provided by the town on its official website. A Ballston Spa or Ballston Lake mailing address does not necessarily mean that you live in the Town of Ballston. You may live in the Town of Ballston, Charlton, Clifton Park, Milton, or Malta. If you live in the Village of Ballston Spa you also live in either the Town of Ballston or Milton. 

Village of Ballston Spa: 

Mayor: Frank Rossi (R) ran unopposed in Nov. 2023 election.

Village government is headed by the Mayor and four Trustees. Together they form the local legislative body, the Board of Trustees. 

Meetings are held at 7 p.m. the 2nd & 4th Mondays of each month, in the Ballston Spa Public Library Community Room. Next meeting: 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 27

Town of Wilton 

Population: 17,361. 

Town Supervisor: Incumbent Supervisor John Lant (R,C) received 1,799 votes, challenger Toni Sturm (D) received 1,494 votes in Nov. 2023 election. 

Town Board Meetings: 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. Meetings at the Wilton Town Hall, 22 Traver Road, Wilton. 

Next Town Board meeting: 7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 7. 

The Town Board is comprised of an elected Supervisor serving a two-year term and four elected councilmen each serving four-year terms.

2024 adopted budget: $10.46 million. 

Hot Topic: Proposed redevelopment of the Wilton Mall, considering the development of nearly 400 apartment units and townhomes at the site of the mall’s former Bon Ton location.

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