Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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BALLSTON SPA — There are 21 municipalities contained within Saratoga County. Five of them will have contested supervisor races on Nov. 7. 

There are 23 Supervisors representing Saratoga County’s 21 municipalities; 19 municipalities are each represented by 1 supervisor. Two municipalities - Saratoga Springs and Clifton Park - are each represented by 2 supervisors.  Supervisors represent their municipality at the county level and are elected to that seat by voters in their own specific municipality. 

Political Party Affiliation Breakdown

• 21 of the 23 current Supervisors are affiliated with the Republican Party, while 2 current Supervisors are affiliated with the Democratic Party. 

• 1 Democrat and 16 Republican supervisors (in a total of 16 county municipalities) are either running unopposed or have no election taking place this year and so are expected to return to the seat in 2024. The remaining five county municipalities will be hosting contested races for six total seats. 

• There are approximately 175,000 registered active voters across the entirety of Saratoga County. Registered Republicans account for 35.8% of those voters, 29.6% are registered as Democrats, and 27.6% are registered to vote as unaffiliated with any party. The remaining 7% are comprised of those registered with the Conservative, Working Families or other party lines. 

Contested county Supervisor races: 

James Sullivan (D) vs. Ian Murray (R,C) – town of Saratoga; 

Cynthia Young (D) vs. Mark Hammond (R,C) – Malta; 

Jessie Fish, Jr. (D, M.U.) vs. Theodore Kusnierz, Jr. (R,C) – Moreau; 

Toni Sturm (D) vs. John Lant (R, C) – Wilton. 

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); Matthew Veitch (R, One Saratoga); Michele Madigan (D, One Saratoga). 

Running unopposed 

- Supervisor races: 

Eric Connolly, R-Ballston; Diana Edwards, R-Day; Kevin Tollisen, R,C – Halfmoon; Scott Ostrander, R,C – Milton; Jean Raymond, R-Edinburg; Joe Grasso , R,C – Charlton; Willard Peck, R,C – Northumberland; Clifton Park Town/County Supervisor Philip Barrett R,C, Clifton Park County Supervisor Angela Thompson R,C; Kevin Veitch  R-Greenfield; Thomas Richardson D-Mechanicville; David Ball R,C – Waterford; C. Eric Butler R-Corinth; Arthur Wright R-Hadley.   

There are no supervisor races on the ballot in the towns of Stillwater, Galway and Providence – although those towns do have other votable seats on the ballot, as well as ballot proposals. 

Thursday, 26 October 2023 16:28

From Carnegie Hall to Wesley Community

SARATOGA SPRINGS — “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” goes the old joke which first appeared in print during the 1950s. It offers up the punch line: “Practice, practice, practice.” 

Conversely, how do you get from Carnegie Hall to Saratoga Springs?  Head northwest on W. 57th St. toward 7th Ave. using the Hudson River as your guide on the 183-or-so-mile journey.

This week, the Wesley Community welcomed Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble Connect to its campus for an afternoon program of classical music at Wesley’s Woodlawn Commons. 

The performance was staged in recognition of the intergenerational connection of classical music between the young musicians and the senior residents to showcase how intergenerational connections allow youth and seniors to share experiences through mutually beneficial activities.

“We’re always thrilled to bring cultural events to our residents,” said Wesley Community CEO J. Brian Nealon, as the five-piece ensemble glided their bows across their respective string instruments or performed with hands across the piano keys of the room’s baby grand. 

The musicians are based out of Carnegie Hall and are part of a fellowship program in partnership with Julliard School, The Weill Music Institute, the New York City Department of Education. They are currently engaged in a five-day residency at Skidmore College. It is a local residency first established in the fall of 2007. 

“We had the opportunity through a board member who works at Skidmore to make this connection for us,” Nealon said. “Our residents love these types of programs and over the years we have been able to avail ourselves of Skidmore’s friendship and help to provide those types of services.” 

Ensemble Connect is a two-year fellowship program that prepares extraordinary young professional classical musicians for careers that combine musical excellence with teaching, community engagement, advocacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership, according to the Carnegie Hall guidebook. 

The group performs its own series at Carnegie Hall and has regularly appeared at The Juilliard School’s Paul Hall and other venues throughout New York City, as well as presenting dozens of interactive performances in schools. Ensemble Connect alums have gone on to perform, teach, and engage with communities in 53 countries around the world. 

While on campus at Skidmore, the fellows offer master classes, lessons, and class demonstrations, as well as play side by side with students of the Skidmore College Orchestra, read student compositions, and stage a live performance. Their concert programs include world premieres commissioned by Carnegie Hall. They perform Friday, Oct. 27 at Zankel Music Center.   

“It works both ways. Our residents also go over to Skidmore and avail themselves of the programming that Skidmore has,“ Nealon said Wednesday afternoon, as the ensemble performed 18th century works of Austrian composer Franz Schubert and Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, and George Gershwin’s 20th century jazz standard “Embraceable You,”  as a group of about 40 Wesley Community residents looked on. 

The Wesley Community is a 37-acre, not-for-profit agency which serves the needs of the elderly, as well as active seniors, adults and pediatrics. Eleven buildings dot the campus that more than 600 residents call home; about 125 independent living and assisted living residents are at Woodlawn Commons - where this week’s performance was held – another 225 are at Embury Apartments and approximately 250 at Wesley Health Care Center – the campus the nursing home.   

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The City Council unanimously approved a contract with SHI International Corp. of New Jersey, which will implement SHI software to allow the city to retain text messages from all city cell phones and automatically capture text messages. 

“This is part of an initiative to improve our transparency and our ability to respond to FOIL requests,” said city Mayor Ron Kim, who brought the measure to the council table. 

The SHI software, SMARSH, will use its automated carrier-integrated capture solution that retains all SMS/MMS data from the carrier the day SMARSH is implemented going forward. 

Employees will text normally and the text messages will be captured as they pass through the carrier. The text messages are automatically pushed into SMARSH’s cloud-based records portal on the backend in an immutable format. 

All data is indexed as it is pulled into the archive and will be searchable with parameters such as keyword, sender and/or recipients, and date range. The total recurring subtotal cost is just over $11,000, with a one-time subtotal cost of about $1,850. 

“The use of SMARSH will provide an efficient and cost-effective way for the city to retain text messages from cellular devices,” Kim said.  “Up until now, the city has really had no way to do this automatically. This will provide a seamless way for our city attorneys to efficiently, transparently and accurately respond to FOIL requests in the future.”

SARATOGA SPRINGS — City Council Meeting: Oct. 17. Mayor Ron Kim led a moment of silence for the nation of Israel and a remembrance of civilians lost and those being held hostage, and the council’s four-hour meeting concluded with the board’s unanimous approval of a resolution condemning “atrocities committed by the terrorists of Hamas,” and the “unqualified support of the State of Israel and the Israeli people.” 

Tuesday night’s meeting marked the final official gathering of council members prior to the Nov. 7 election; all five council seats and both city supervisor positions are to be voted upon, and new two-year terms will begin January 2024.

Democrat mayor Ron Kim is running for re-election. Both challengers to the mayoral seat – Republican candidate John Safford and One Saratoga candidate Chris Mathiesen, as well as Supervisor candidate Michele Madigan (D, One Saratoga), and local Democratic Party Chairman Otis Maxell spoke during segments where public comment was allotted. City Republican Committee chairman Michael Brandi released a statement that said litigation was served on the City at the Council meeting, and that he had commenced court proceedings to compel the city to address two FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) requests he is accusing the city of ignoring. 

Welcome to Saratoga Springs 

City Supervisor Matt Veitch offered a presentation showcasing new signage anticipated to be placed at entry and exit points in and out of Saratoga Springs in the near future.     

“When you travel out of the city of Saratoga Springs you always see a sign welcome to the next town – welcome to Wilton, welcome to Greenfield – and it’s always bothered me as a native Saratogian that we don’t do the same thing on our side,” Veitch told the council. 

The welcome signs that do exist display a variety of styles, fonts and sizes, Veitch pointed out. The new signs – large ones at major thoroughfares such as the exit 14, exit 15, and Route 9 entrances to the city, smaller ones to be placed on the more rural entry and exit points, will have more uniformity and consistency in style. The front side will feature a welcome for people coming in to the city, and a “thank you for visiting” text will appear on the back. 

Veitch said he worked with city DPW Commissioner Jason Golub, as well as the county Public Works department among others and that the county set aside funds for the signs to be created. The large signs will be put out for bid by the county, Veitch added. 

Free Pop-Up Health & Wellness Clinic for the Creative Community 

Finance Commissioner Dillon Moran announced a Free Pop-Up Health Clinic will take place 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 22 at Caffe Lena. 

Services will Include: Vision Care Clinic Including Exams and Eyewear, Custom Molded Earplugs, Blood Pressure Screening, Dietician Consultation, HEPC/HIV Screening, Insurance Navigation, Cancer Screening Services

Saratoga Hospital volunteer medical professionals will provide testing, evaluation, health & wellness education, as well as assistance obtaining access to ongoing care during a one-day pop-up clinic, free to anyone in the creative community. This includes artists, musicians, designers, photographers, filmmakers, writers, and all others who work in a creative capacity.

The goal of this service is to enable individuals in the creative community who are uninsured or underinsured to access healthcare in a trusted environment so they can enjoy the best possible quality of life.

For more information, go to: 

City Connections

Jen Dunn, of the city Planning Department, delivered a 15-minute presentation regarding the department’s Missing Links Sidewalk Program. Dunn defined “Missing Links” as stretches of city pathways where sidewalks lead nowhere and discussed the remedies to fill in those gaps. 

Missing Links Program Brings 1.8 Miles of New Sidewalks to the City Saratoga Springs, New York, October 17, 2023 – Mayor Kim congratulates the Planning Department on the, which strives to fully connect downtown to more neighborhoods and places in Saratoga Springs. 

Between 2022 and 2023, the project completed 1.8 miles of ADA compliant sidewalk segments and crosswalks within a one-mile radius of the City’s urban core. The majority of the project’s funding was provided by a $1.52 million grant through the 2019-2024 Federal Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). After reimbursements are received later this year and next, the ultimate cost to the city will be approximately $382,000. 

Jury Verdict in Mount vs. The City of Saratoga Springs

A few hours prior to the start of the Oct. 17 meeting, the jury in Mount vs. The City of Saratoga Springs, after a two-week trial, ruled in favor of the city. During the council meeting, city Mayor Ron Kim spoke about the trial outcome, with slight variations to the commentary released to the press earlier in the day.     

“Darryl Mount’s death 10 years ago was a tragedy. The loss of a young man and fellow Saratogian left a void in our community,” Mayor Kim said. “I’m glad a jury finally had the opportunity to weigh the evidence and reach a decision, and I am gratified the city will now not face further liability. It’s always been my view that because of the failure to conduct an investigation 10 years ago into the death of Darryl Mount, a jury trial was the only way for a final decision to be made. Jury trials are a foundation of our democracy, as much as voting is. Clearly, the jury deliberated, listened to the facts, listened to the adversarial proceeding and rendered a judgement. It is unfortunate that we had to wait 10 years for this decision.”

A resolution declaring the City of Saratoga Springs a Safe Haven for Trans Youth was tabled with the understanding it will be brought to the table for discussion and vote at the council’s next meeting on Nov. 8.   

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Shelters of Saratoga has announced the 10th season of the Code Blue low-barrier winter homeless shelter – this year located at the former Grand Union Motel at 120 South Broadway – will open this month. 

The Code Blue shelter was previously located 4 Adelphi St. That location is currently operated by RISE Housing and Support Services as a 24/7 year-round shelter, on a temporary basis. It houses approximately 30 beds. The city of Saratoga Springs is actively reviewing proposals recommended by the city’s homelessness task force in the hope of securing a long-term permanent shelter location. 

The new Code Blue facility – which opens during the cold winter months - offers a nightly meal and semi-private accommodations critical for a healthy night of sleep. 

“Code Blue is a life saving measure that protects people from harsh cold, snow, and ice common in our area, providing nightly respite and safety,” Duane Vaughn, Executive Director of Shelters of Saratoga, said in a statement. 

In the 2022-23 season, the shelter provided 61 cots and served 271 adults. “Our Code Blue shelter was full almost every night. The new location increases our capacity by 23%, providing space for up to 75 people,” said Vaughn. 

Code Blue is a state-mandated program administered by Saratoga County. 

Code Blue was initiated after the tragic freezing death of Nancy Pitts in 2013. Shelters of Saratoga operates the program in collaboration with local human service agencies, state and local government, faith groups, volunteers, and businesses that support shelter operations and the nightly meal program. The shelter opens when the nightly temperature drops below 32 degrees, beginning in the fall and extending through early spring. 

Shelter Needs: Nightly volunteers are needed from 5:30-7 p.m. to serve dinner to guests. Interested volunteers can sign up at

For those interested in donating, the shelter is in need of the following items: Granola bars; Individually packaged snacks; Drink mix; Condiments; Peanut butter; Jelly; Stewart’s gift cards.  Donations of goods will be accepted at 120 South Broadway, Saratoga Springs (center building) beginning in November. 

For more information or to get involved, visit or contact Shelters of Saratoga directly at 518-581-1097 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

BALLSTON SPA — Recognizing the need to update its aerial images, the county board of supervisors approved an agreement at its monthly meeting on Oct. 17 to authorize a Rochester, NY based company to conduct a new countywide aerial imaging/GIS mapping program.

Last produced in 2019, those previous aerial photos are used by local municipal assessors and various county departments - the Office of Emergency Services, the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office, and Real Property Tax Services, among them. 

The new captures will feature “significant enhancements in aerial image resolution and an improved delivery platform,” according to the county resolution.   

The contract with Pictometry International Corp., a/k/a Eagleview Technologies Inc. is for a three-year term at a cost up to $225,000.

BALLSTON SPA —At its monthly meeting Oct. 17, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors approved authorizing terms of a settlement agreement to pay $40,000 to Deborah Papula in connection with a motor vehicle accident that occurred July 2017 on a county owned road. 

Papula was a passenger in a vehicle driven by her husband, Peter Papula, when their car was involved in a two-car crash that occurred near the intersection of Lester Park Road and Middle Grove Road, according to a report published by The Saratogian in early August 2017. Peter Papula was taken to Saratoga Hospital where he later died from injuries suffered in the crash, and Deborah Papula was transferred to Albany Medical Center Hospital in critical condition, according to the report. 

This week’s approved county resolution specifies that the Settlement Agreement resolves all claims in the aftermath of the crash – “litigation thereafter having been commenced against the County and other parties, a preliminary litigation having occurred, and legal proceedings having not yet concluded” – and resolves all claims without any admission of liability on the part of the County. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — RISE Housing and Support Services has been awarded their bid to operate the  7,800 square-foot building on Williams Street that previously housed the Saratoga Senior Center.

Following the senior center’s relocation from 5 Williams St. and in the aftermath of thwarted plans to house a 24/7 year-round permanent homeless shelter on the site, the city – which owns the building -  on Sept. 1 offered the building via a public bidding process to non-profits for a short-term lease. 

As stipulated in the RFP, the term of the lease will be for 6 months and starts in November, with optional month-to-month leasing for up to an additional six months. 

The winning bid by RISE was $500 per month. 

The building will serve as temporary administration offices for the human services agency, as their own offices are currently under construction, and will not be used to shelter homeless people, the city said.   

Thursday, 12 October 2023 16:38

$60.5 Million Budget Proposed

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city’s first presentation of the 2024 budget calls for a $60.5 million spending plan – a 6.2% increase over this year’s plan, and the inclusion of a 2.99% tax increase.

Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi revealed the $60.5 million 2024 Comprehensive Budget during a 40-minute presentation on Oct. 3, and set a tentative budget public workshop schedule through the month of October for all departments. 

By rule, a budget needs to be approved by a majority of the five-member council by Nov. 30, or the $60.5 million plan presented Oct. 3 goes into effect for 2024.   

Among the main issues impacting city finances, Sanghvi pointed to inflation - higher prices of everything from construction materials to health care costs; decisions made by previous administrations to not raise property taxes or conduct reassessments for more than a decade, and the number of new hires made by the current administration.

“We’ve not collected delinquent taxes for a decade,” Sanghvi said. “Ten years ago, the city’s real property tax revenue was $15.99 million, and the adopted budget was $40.44 million. In 2024, property tax revenue will be $17.6 million, and the comprehensive budget is $60.5 million.”

A proposed 2.99% tax increase will have the following impact on taxpayers: $3.32 per month higher for a home valued at $200,000 in the inner district, and $3.25 higher for the same house in the outer district.  That monthly impact grows with the value of the home; for example, a home valued at $400,000 inner district would cost homeowners $6.64 more per month, etc.   

In a Budget Call letter sent to commissioners on June 20, Commissioner Sanghvi recommended the total preliminary “requested” budget made by each department be similar to the “adopted” budget amount approved this year, or about $57 million. This year’s requests ultimately arrived with a $70 million tag. That amount was whittled down to the $60.5 million plan presented Oct. 3.   

Personnel and benefits costs overall account for more than 80% of the spending plan. The city’s 2024 Comprehensive Budget includes no new hires. 

Sales tax revenue is estimated at $19.5 million for the calendar year 2024, an increase of more than $2 million compared to this year’s plan. 

The city has made 30 new hires over the past two years. “No more hiring until we find new revenues,” Sanghvi said. “There is a lot our administration has been working on these past two years and that’s where we needed to hire people - but we also have to figure out what we need to do to continue our growth in services along with new revenues.” 

Those new revenue streams could potentially flow from collecting occupancy tax on short term rentals, cannabis sales tax, parking, reassessment, and community preservation funds. Additionally, the city council is working on collecting delinquent taxes amounting to more than $3 million, Sanghvi said.

Tentative schedule - departments have until October 6 to inform the Finance Department that they would like to reschedule the date of their meeting – are slated as follows: 

Department of Public Safety 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 11); Department of Public Works, Recreation Department (11 a.m., Friday, Oct. 13); Accounts Department, Finance Department (9 a.m., Friday, Oct. 20); Mayor’s Department, Civil Service (11 a.m., Monday, Oct. 23); Summary of Amended Budget Workshop (5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 25). 

Public workshops for all departments regarding the 2024 budget will take place at City Hall through the month of October. Each will also include a brief public comment period. For an updated listing of times and dates, visit the city website at: 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — City Mayor Ron Kim announced the city will begin to explore implementing a 25-mph speed limit in certain areas of the city. 

“Research has shown that faster driving speeds correlate to more serious injuries and fatalities for pedestrians in the event of a crash,” the mayor told the council on Oct. 2. 

The recommendation came from the city’s Complete Streets Advisory Board, citing the promotion of safety as a top priority and implementing a 25-mph speed limit within the city’s inner district. The recommendation, submitted to the city on Sept. 29 by CSAB Chair Ken Grey and Co-Chair Ted Orosz, specifically points to the area between West Ave and Henning Rd (east/west), Crescent Avenue and Route 50 (north/south) and west of route 50 to include Skidmore College. 

“This initiative can be refined based on neighborhood analysis. Reduced speed limits will also assist changing behaviors, including the slowing of truck traffic on Broadway and doing our part to become a climate smart community,” the SCAB letter states, and references communities in Seattle, Washington; Denver, Colorado; Kennebunkport, Maine, and New York City as having implemented reductions in speed limits and achieving positive outcomes. 

“In the Capital District the city of Albany and Town of East Greenbush are implementing these changes, and the Town of Malta is considering implementing them,” according to the CSAB. “We believe this is an important measure for enhancing the walkability, bike-ability and safety of Saratoga Springs.”

“The next step is we are going to retain an engineering study of our traffic and report back to the City Council,” Mayor Kim said Oct. 2 “We will have several Public Hearings where people can express their opinions (and) the hope is that in a few months we will be able to make a decision about this after public hearings and back-and-forth dialogue.”   

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