Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
Contact Thomas

SARATOGA SPRINGS — City Mayor-Elect John Safford announced this week he has selected Joanne Kiernan for the position of Deputy Mayor of Saratoga Springs. 

Kiernan, the Republican-endorsed candidate for Commissioner of Finance in 2021, has served as a business advisor and accountant for a variety of local businesses, and also served 9 years on the Saratoga Springs School Board.

Safford, running on the Republican Party line, secured the two-year term to begin Jan. 1, 2024 with 3,752 votes, besting incumbent Ron Kim (D, WF) – 3,172 votes, and independent party challenger Chris Mathiesen – 1,420 votes, according to Election Day tallies posted by the Saratoga County BOE. 

“I am proud to announce Joanne as my Deputy-Mayor,” Safford said, in a statement. “I am humbled by the interest shown by so many applicants interested in serving alongside me and thank them for their interest. Joanne is a proven leader and I know she will serve the office of the Mayor and the citizens of Saratoga Springs well”The mayor is chief executive officer and official representative of Saratoga Springs and counts as one vote on the five-person City Council. 

Each of the five council members is charged with appointing a deputy to serve their department, and each deputy serves at the pleasure of, and not longer than, the term of the Council member making the deputy’s appointment.

“I am excited to get to work for the people of Saratoga Springs and look forward to hitting the ground running with Mayor-Elect Safford and the rest of the City Council,” Kiernan said.

JoAnne Kiernan for Finance transferred $1,000 to the Safford for Mayor 2023 campaign, according to NYS Board of Elections Oct. 27 disclosure reports. 

SARATOGA COUNTY — The 46-year-old local man suspected of abducting a 9-year-old girl in September was indicted by a Saratoga County grand jury. 

Craig N. Ross Jr., was charged with kidnapping in the first-degree, a felony, shortly after being taken into custody in early October. Ross was arraigned at Milton Town Court and sent to Saratoga County Correctional Facility without bail. 

An arraignment on the grand jury indictment is scheduled to take place Nov. 17 when any potential additional charges are anticipated to be made known. 

The 9-year-old girl went missing Sept. 30 while on a bike ride in Moreau Lake State Park. 

The Oct. 2 arrest followed the issue of an AMBER alert, and the discovery of a ransom note left in the family mailbox of the abducted girl’s home, according to authorities. Fingerprints on the letter were entered into the New York State database and a match was made involving a DWI in 1999 in Saratoga Springs. 

The subsequent investigation led authorities to a camper where the girl was located safe and in good health by state police, and Ross taken into custody, authorities said.   

BALLSTON SPA — Saratoga County officials have proposed a $411 million spending plan for 2024. The tentative budget marks a $32.7 million increase compared to this year’s approved budget and highlights 8% decrease in the property tax rate.

“It is a $411 million budget for 2024,” said city Supervisor Matt Veitch, who last week was re-elected to a ninth two-year term, which begins in 2024.      

“It’s going to have an 8% property tax rate cut – keeping it under the state tax cap - and it’s going to put us at $1.95 per $1,000 assessed value. In the time that I’ve been supervisor, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it that low, so, good for the taxpayers, you get a little bit of a tax break from Saratoga County,” Veitch said. 

The county sales tax revenue projection for 2024 is $165 million - a decrease of $5 million compared with expected 2023 revenues, and real property taxes revenues is estimated at about $72 million, approximately $2.5 million higher than 2023 amended budget totals. 

County Administrator Steve Bulger said the county plans on making significant investments in broadband, highway, and other infrastructure improvements in 2024.

Some 2024 Tentative Budget Investments for Saratoga County Residents Include: 

A new program, Teams, that will provide $350,000 in total funding to towns and team sports programs throughout the county that support the health and well-being of children and youth. 

A $2 million broadband expansion project looks to provide high-speed broadband expansion to the towns of Corinth, Day, Edinburg, Hadley, and Providence, utilizing federal ARPA funds.

Preserving open space and providing outdoor recreational opportunities for residents through investments in our Farmland and Open Space Acquisition and fish stocking programs and by increasing funding for our Local Assistance to County Trails grant program. ($575,000) 

Continued investments to address the opioid epidemic including utilizing Opioid Settlement Funds to create programs and provide services to connect families, veterans, and underserved populations with community-based treatment, rehabilitation, recovery, and support services related to opioid and substance use disorders. ($150,000).

Emergency Services communications upgrades and a new Fire Training Tower in support of volunteer firefighters throughout Saratoga County. (more than $3 million).

Robust investments in public safety, including investments in personnel, technology, and equipment for the Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Probation Department, Public Defender’s Department, and Conflict Defender’s Office. (nearly $57 million).

Budget workshops are ongoing through November. “As we go forward we’ll see if there’s anything that needs changing or updating,” Veitch said.   

A public hearing will take place at the county complex in Ballston Spa in early December, and a special board meeting will be held one week later to potentially adopt the budget for 2024. 

The tentative 2024 budget is on view at: www.saratogacountyny.gov/2024-tentative-budget/.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs Planning Board announced it will meet 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30 at City Hall. Applications under consideration that may be part of the night’s agenda include: 

-South Broadway Treehouse Brewing Special Use Permit for an outdoor dining and micro-production of alcohol associated with an eating and drinking establishment.

Tree House Brewing Company has submitted plans to build a brewery, taproom, and “expansive indoor and outdoor experience” across the street from the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Route 9. It will be the brewer’s sixth location overall and first outside of New England.

The company said it expects to create at least sixty jobs and generate $30 to $40 million in economic activity.

• A Special Use permit and a Site Plan Review is sought for a private/social club proposed at 118 and 121-125 Woodlawn Ave. 

Saratoga TODAY first reported on the venture last June when it was detailed the club’s anticipated operation hours of 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, when it would provide light meals and bar service for its approximately 200 members, as well as a place for members “to relax and unwind after a day at the office,” according to documents filed with the city. 

The building at 118 is located on the corner of Woodlawn Avenue and Van Dam Street, just west of the convergence of Broadway/Route 9 and the Saratoga Hilton. For more than a century, the property was owned by various religious operations and operated as a religious house of worship, The existing gravel lot at 122-125 would be upgraded and consist of 22 parking spaces. 

•12 Ballston Ave., Chipotle. Site Plan Review of a proposed 2,344 square foot restaurant with outdoor seating and associated site work to be located on lands that was formerly the Starting Gate Bar and Grill, which has been vacant since 2015. 

•400 Louden Road, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs. Special Use permit for a place of worship is sought by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. 

UUCSS is currently under contract to purchase just over 5 acres on Louden Road for the construction of the new church. Just over three of those acres are in “conservancy“ – not allowing for development – leaving about 1.93 acres of currently vacant land where the proposed two-story, 8,840 square foot church would be developed. 

The primary development area is located in Saratoga Springs with the road frontage being in the town of Wilton. The proposal also includes parking availability for 64 cars.

•126 West Ave.  Site Plan Review of a proposed mixed-use development on West Avenue, that would include office and residential units. The initial Site Plan application (including PUD) was submitted to the city of Saratoga Springs in October 2021, and called for a mixed-use development consisting of four townhouses, office and apartment. Seven new illustrations were submitted to the city of Saratoga Springs on Nov, 13, 2023. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The City Council gathered Monday morning to set a public hearing for the proposed amended 2024 City Budget. 

That hearing, which enables the public to express opinions directly to councilmembers regarding the proposed $61.27 million spending plan, will take place 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28. 

By rule, the council must vote to approve the budget by Nov. 30, or the $60.5 million spending plan previously submitted by the finance commissioner will become law.   

BALLSTON SPA — Matt Veitch and Michele Madigan were chosen by a majority of city voters to represent Saratoga Springs at the county level for the next two years. 

Veitch, running on the Republican and independent One Saratoga ballot line, was re-elected with 36.4% of the vote to the city Supervisor seat he has held since 2008. 

Veitch will be joined by Madigan, who received 33.4% of the vote running on the Democratic and O.S line. She previously served as city Finance Commissioner for five two-year terms, from 2012-2021. 

Gordon Boyd (D, WF) finished just out of the running for the two available seats with 30.2% of the vote. 

In the last city race for the two Supervisor seats, held in November 2021, Democrat Tara Gaston (4,460) and Republican Matthew Veitch (4,334 votes) were elected. Democrat Shaun Wiggins received 3,828 votes, and Republican John Safford – this year’s city mayoral winner – received 3,775 votes.

The Board of Supervisors, comprised of 23 members, is the legislative and executive authority of county government. The Board meets monthly at the county complex in Ballston Spa and manages a $400 million annual budget. Each Supervisor has a weighted vote based on population. 

Each of Saratoga County’s 21 municipalities have at least one elected supervisor who represents them at the county level; Saratoga Springs and Clifton Park – the county’s highest populated municipalities, each have two supervisors.   

Prior to this year’s Nov. 7 election, 21 of the 23 Supervisors were affiliated with the Republican Party, while 2 Supervisors were affiliated with the Democratic Party. Democrats added two additional seats as a result of Election Day’s five contested races.   

In Malta, Cynthia Young (D) defeated incumbent Mark Hammond (R,C), and Jessie Fish, Jr. (D, M.U.) secured three-of-every-four votes in besting incumbent Theodore Kusnierz, Jr. (R,C) in Moreau. 

In addition to representing Moreau as its supervisor, Kusnierz is currently serving his third one-year term as Chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors.

The Board Chair serves as the Parliamentarian to the Board of Supervisors and its presiding officer with the power to issue proclamations on behalf of the county as well as assigning member appointments to the county’s 12 Standing Committees. It is anticipated the incoming 2024 Board will select a new Chair at its annual Organizational Meeting in early January. 

In the other contested supervisor races in Saratoga County, incumbent John Lant (R, C) defeated Toni Sturm (D) in Wilton, and Ian Murray (R,C) won the town of Saratoga seat over challenger James Sullivan (D). Murray served as town supervisor since July, completing the term of the late Tom Wood. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A new mayor and a new public safety commissioner will be joined by three returning commissioners when the five-member City Council convenes in 2024. 

“I pledge to work with everyone to advance the interests of our beautiful city,” said John Safford, shortly after declaring victory in the city mayoral race on Election Night.   

Safford, the Republican challenger, secured approximately 45% of the vote to emerge victorious over incumbent Mayor Ron Kim (D, WF) – who secured 38%, and Chris Mathiesen (One Saratoga) – who received 17%, according to the unofficial results reported by the Saratoga County Board of Elections. Safford will be the city’s first Republican mayor since Scott Johnson’s third term concluded in December 2013. 

Most of the 8,443 voters counted cast their ballots Tuesday beneath a heavy November sky that saw shafts of light trying to punch holes in a gun-metal gray drape of clouds, wind-blown leaves swirling like mad straphangers at rush-hour, and an indecisive climate unsure whether to leap into winter, or quietly fall back. 

In the city of Saratoga Springs, there are just over 20,000 voters actively registered, with registered Democrats accounting for approximately 40% of voters, registered Republicans about 28%, and Blanks –those registered to vote but purposely unaffiliated with any party, counting for about 26.5%. The remaining 5.5% balance of voters are comprised of those registered with either the Conservative Party, Working Families Party, or a variety of independent lines. 

In actual numbers, Safford collected 580 more votes than Kim, as the results currently stand. Prior to the election, some Democrats expressed concern that Mathiesen – who previously sat at the council table as a three-term Democrat Public Safety Commissioner – may secure some votes that otherwise would have gone to Kim. Mathiesen garnered a total of 1,420 votes in his mayoral bid. 

Safford previously worked for nearly 20 years as a professional managing agent to multiple Homeowners Associations and Condo boards and ran on a platform to “bring back civility to City Hall,” and “address homelessness with solutions that actually work.” 

In the contested race for Commissioner of Public Safety, Tim Coll - a registered Democrat running on the Republican and One Saratoga line, secured 49.2% of the vote, besting independent line candidate Kristen Dart (28.9%) and incumbent Democrat Commissioner Jim Montagnino (21.8%) for the seat. 

Coll is a retired former Special Agent of the FBI with 30 years of law enforcement experience.

The new mayor and new public safety commissioner will start their two-year terms in January. The balance of the five-person council will be comprised of three returning sitting commissioners, all Democrats, and each of whom received more than 5,000 votes running unopposed this election year. They are: Jason Golub (Public Works), Dillon Moran (Accounts), and Minita Sanghvi (Finance).

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city Land Use Boards will hold a joint meeting Nov. 15 regarding a Special Use Permit and Architectural Review of a proposal to site the micro-production of alcohol and a new eating and drinking establishment on a 10-acre parcel on South Broadway. 

The proposal for “Tree House Saratoga Springs” comes via the Tree House Brewing Company - founded in 2011 and currently operating six facilities – five in Massachusetts and a farm in Connecticut. According to the company, it is “the largest direct-to-consumer on-premises brewer in the country,” and says this proposed project will be their only expansion in New York. 

The land where Tree House would be located - 3376 Route 9/ South Broadway - is currently vacant and from 1945 to 2013 operated as Murphy’s Driving Range and Mini-Golf. Today it is a mostly flat, open field with its immediate Route 9 facing neighbors being Saratoga Honda to the north, and Homewood Suites to the south. 

Current owners MCJack LLC, have contracted to sell the property to Treehouse Brewing Company (THBC NY, LLC,) of Charlton, Massachusetts. 

The project space is approximately 10 acres, and would encompass 4 structures, the largest being approximately 200 feet – by – 210-feet and rising to a height of about 30 feet.  Plans call for a 22,680-square foot brewery and taproom building.

The outdoor areas would include three pavilions, picnic tables, small gathering areas and walking paths. 

The project also calls for a 390-car parking lot, and a “beer to go” area for the pickup of online orders. 

The company anticipates its siting would add more than 60 jobs of varying skill sets - production, restaurant and hospitality staff among them – and estimates its economic impact to the region as $30 to $40 million based on siting a Saratoga Springs location, according to documents filed with the city. 

A joint Planning Board-Design Review Board discussion is slated to take place at 6 p.m., on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at City Hall. A public hearing is anticipated to take place on or around Nov. 30. 

Thursday, 02 November 2023 15:44

Election Day Primer

9.1B----Election.2----Pollsite-List-2-10232023-600x774.jpg

SARATOGA SPRINGS —All five City Council seats – one mayor and four commissioners - as well as both city Supervision positions are up for vote to new, two-year terms that will take effect in January. 

City Council

Three of the five council positions are uncontested, and each of the currently sitting commissioners - Jason Golub (Public Safety), Dillon Moran (Accounts), and Minita Sanghvi (Finance) - are expected to return. All three are Democrats. 

The contested seats are for city Mayor, and for Commissioner of Public Safety.

Incumbent Mayor Ron Kim and incumbent Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino are both seeking re-election. Each is facing a contested three-person race. Both incumbents are Democrats, but unlike the political polarization that prevails in many elections across the U.S., party lines and political divisions in the Spa City are somewhat blurred.

Mayor

Ron Kim – running on the Democratic line, is facing a challenge for the mayoral seat from Republican candidate John Safford, and One Saratoga independent party candidate Chris Mathiesen. Mathiesen previously sat the council table as city Public Safety Commissioner, from 2012 to 2017. 

Public Safety Commissioner

Jim Montagnino – running on the Democratic line, faces a challenge for Public Safety Commissioner from Timothy Coll – who is running on the Republican, and One Saratoga line, and Kristen Dart – who is running on the independent Community First line. 

A Parting of Party Lines

In the city of Saratoga Springs, there are just over 20,000 voters actively registered. 

Registered Democrats account for approximately 40% of voters, registered Republicans about 28%, and Blanks – that is, those registered to vote but purposely unaffiliated with any party, count for about 26.5%. The remaining 5.5% balance of voters are comprised of those registered with either the Conservative Party, Working Families Party, or a variety of independent lines. Overall, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in 21 of 25 city voting districts, according to the state Board of Elections’ latest available enrollment figures. 

Despite that sitting Public Safety Commissioner Montagnino is a Democrat, city Mayor Ron Kim and three other incumbent Democrat council members have expressed their backing of independent Kristen Dart for the seat. 

Tim Coll, who is a registered Democrat, has been endorsed by the city Republican committee and is running on the Republican line as a candidate of choice for Public Safety Commissioner. 

And this week, on a rain-soaked Monday afternoon in front of City Hall, Democrat ballot candidate Montagnino held a press conference to announce he would be crossing party lines to endorse Republican Party candidate John Safford for Mayor in the election. When asked about his support for Safford, Montagnino denied that his endorsement was of any retaliatory nature against Mayor Kim’s endorsing of Kirsten Dart, instead citing “discord and chaos” at recent City Council meetings as a motivator. 

“This IS an unusual endorsement,” Safford said, acknowledging the crossing of party lines during Monday’s 20-minute presser, “but I’m grateful for it.”

This Year’s Contested City Seats - The Last Time Around 

In 2021, nearly 9,000 city votes were counted in the mayoral race. Democrat Ron Kim was elected after securing 4,319 votes to the 3,943 cast for Republican candidate Heidi West and 632 voted for other party challengers. 

Democrat Jim Montagnino was elected Public Safety Commissioner after besting Republican candidate Tracey LaBelle 4,783 to 3,859, with an additional 95 votes cast for a third-party challenger.

In the race for the two Supervisor seats, Democrat Tara Gaston (4,460) and Republican Matthew Veitch (4,334 votes) were elected. Democrat Shaun Wiggins received 3,828 votes, and Republican John Safford – this year’s mayoral challenger – received 3,775 votes.

This year in Saratoga Springs, voters have a choice of three candidates from which to select two supervisors to represent the city at the county level. 

They are: Gordon Boyd (D, WF); Michele Madigan (D, One Saratoga), and incumbent Supervisor Matthew Veitch (R, One Saratoga). Madigan previously served five two-year terms as city Finance Commissioner, from 2012-2021; Veitch, who is seeking re-election, has served as supervisor since 2008. 

For more information about county supervisor races, please see last week’s edition of Saratoga TODAY, which may be viewed at: https://saratogatodaynewspaper.com/home/item/20476-election-primer-saratoga-county-five-contested-supervisor-races-early-voting-begins-oct-28. 

Party Registration Breakdown

Countywide, active registered voter numbers have grown from 169,756 in November 2021 to 174,991 actively registered in 2023 – an increase of 5,235.

Specific to active voter party affiliation across Saratoga County: Conservative Party registration is up 281 compared to year 2021, Republican Party registration is up 934, and Democratic Party registration is up 1,456. The largest increase - up 3,203 – are those registered to vote but unaffiliated with any party, or “blank.” Working Families Party and other/ independent parties each have less active registered voters this time around.       

Statewide Ballot Proposals

Proposal One: Removal Of Small City School Districts From Special Constitutional Debt Limitation. The proposed amendment to Article 8, section 4 of the Constitution seeks to remove the special constitutional debt limitation now placed on small city school districts, so they will be treated the same as all other school districts.

Proposal Two: Extending Sewage Project Debt Exclusion From Debt Limit. The proposed amendment to Article 8, section 5 of the Constitution seeks to extends for 10 years the authority of counties, cities, towns, and villages to remove from their constitutional debt limits debt for the construction of sewage facilities.

For full text of the two ballot proposals, go to the state BOE website at: https://www.elections.ny.gov/2023BallotProposals.html.

Thursday, 02 November 2023 15:28

Saratoga Springs Cinema Rebranding

SARATOGA SPRINGS —The Spa City’s movie theater on Railroad Place may soon have a new face. 

AMC Theatres has filed an application with the city Zoning Board of Appeals seeking a re-branding of its exterior signs at 19 Railroad Place. 

The proposed action includes larger letter signs – although the overall square footage will not be increased – to read “AMC,” as well as the removal of currently existing metal “bowtie” accents.   

Bow Tie Cinemas opened in Wilton and in Saratoga Springs in 2013. The Wilton location closed in 2020 and in April 2022 AMC announced it had struck a deal with Bow Tie to take over operations of the Saratoga Springs theater. 

Page 9 of 104

Blotter

  • Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office  A 20-year-old Watervliet man was charged with first degree manslaughter after allegedly “striking another person with a large wrench and causing that person’s death,” according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office said they received a call of a fight in progress on Sparrow Drive in the town of Malta and the Investigation into the complaint led to the arrest of Cyrus J. Tetreault, 20, of Watervliet.  The victim was identified as 53-year-old Malta resident Brian M. Miller.  “It is truly tragic that this situation resulted in a loss of life,” county Sheriff Michael Zurlo…

Property Transactions

  • BALLSTON  Richard Burt sold property at 921 Route 50 to 921 Route 50 LLC for $173,000 GALWAY Rita Werner and Erin Forlenza sold property at 1064 West Galway Road to Karen Crandall for $145,000 GREENFIELD John Mishoe sold property at 463 Allen Road to Michael Forlini for $390,000 John Duffney sold property at 288 North Greenfield to Kelly Rozembersky for $270,000 MALTA  Timothy Albright sold property at 54 Shore Ave to Joseph DiDonna for $800,000 Jennifer Hogan sold property at 5 Plum Poppy South to Dustin Mullen for $475,000 Nicolas Aragosa sold property at 10 Scotch Mist Way to Steven…
  • NYPA
  • Saratoga County Chamber
  • BBB Accredited Business
  • Discover Saratoga
  • Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association