City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
MALTA — The Luther Forest Technology Campus may soon be adding to its list of residents.
The campus, which sits in the towns of Malta and Stillwater, has long been home to GlobalFoundries as its sole tenant. Scannell Properties, a privately owned real estate development and investment company, is looking to develop up to five large warehouses consisting of millions of square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space at LFTC, bringing about 2,500 new jobs to the county along with it.
“It would be significant for a couple of reasons. First and foremost is the sheer number of jobs involved. They’re talking about 2,500 jobs, which would absolutely be a game-changer, a generational change in terms of economic activity,“ said Timothy Dunn, councilperson on the Malta Town Board.
GlobalFoundries employs about 3,000 people, but many are of a specialized high-tech variety. Dunn explained that the Scannell project would appear to seek the employ of a more varied skill set and offering jobs that run the gamut from tech and tech-related jobs to light manufacturing and distribution. “I think it would be a huge opportunity for the local work force. The ability to get those jobs to local people is really high I think, and would be a big benefit,” Dunn said.
Before the project can proceed, the towns of Malta and Stillwater would need to allow a mix of uses on the land that Scannell would employ.
The company is based in Indiana and was founded in 1990. Its focus is on build-to-suit and speculative development projects, and cites more than 350 completed development projects with a geographic reach across 44 U.S. states, as well as in Canada, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.
“A company like Scannell that’s looking to make a strategic investment based on market demand is exciting. They develop property and work with companies that would have the highest propensity to want to do business in our area based on the marketplace and all of the strategic assets that we have in our region,” said Shelby Schneider, President and CEO of Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership. “It’s exciting to see. They develop property for Fortune 100 companies around the country. If they have confidence in the marketplace, they relay that confidence on to Fortune 100 companies.”
Scannell has an option to buy more than 200 acres of land south of the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant, and is in communication with local municipalities regarding the land use changes to the planned development district necessary for the development of the potential project.
A discussion was held among members of the Malta Town Board during its workshop earlier this month and it is anticipated discussions will continue during a full town board meeting on March 29. A town board Action Meeting takes place April 5. It is believed a similar process will be undertaken in Stillwater.
The project has also been forwarded to the Malta Town Planning Board as well as the Saratoga County Planning Board for review. “So, we’ll be anticipating input from both of those entities,” Dunn said. “Once we’ve gone through all these steps it will be up to the town board to make a decision whether to approve or not approve the amendment of the Planned Development District – which is ultimately what precipitated this whole discussion.”
BALLSTON SPA — At its monthly meeting, held March 16, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors approved the adoption of a police reform report presented by its appointed seven-member “Executive Order 203 Compliance Group.”
The group was charged with conducting a comprehensive review of the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office - including strategies, deployment practices, and policies - and submitting a report of potential recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, as per Gov. Cuomo’s Executive Order in 2020.
The group stated the following recommendations:
1. Facilitate and establish an advisory committee to continue to seek public input and community involvement in reviewing policies and procedures utilized by the Sheriff’s Office beyond April 1, 2021.
2. Encourage the Saratoga County Sheriff to take steps necessary to maintain compliance with the New York State Law Enforcement Accreditation Program.
3. Encourage the Saratoga County Sheriff to maintain policies consistent with the model policies as provided by the New York State Municipal Police Training Council.
4. Encourage the Saratoga County Sheriff to study and implement training and programs related to topics such as: diversity and cultural education, and elimination of bias.
5. Recommend that the Saratoga County Sheriff explore the development of a body camera and in-car video program for agency. A draft policy should be submitted to the Public Safety Committee for review and recommendations. Recommend that the Board of Supervisors consider funding the establishment of the Sheriff’s body camera and in-car video program to include equipment, storage, and requisite staff for the review and management of video records.
6. Encourage the Sheriff to consult with the Board of Supervisors and its Public Safety Committee in exploring the feasibility of creation of a Professional Standards position or group within the Sheriff’s Office in lieu of the current ad-hoc method of collecting and investigating complaints, reviewing and updating policy and auditing agency performance.
7. Encourage the Sheriff to amend policies and procedures as needed to facilitate collection of additional demographic data on law enforcement contacts to include data related to race and ethnicity.
8. Facilitate the establishment of a County created and maintained list of resources for the public and county employees to reference in lieu of contacting or deploying law enforcement personnel for certain non-law enforcement incidents.
9. Encourage and Recommend the Sheriff continue to engage and support the inclusion of mental health resources in the daily functions of the Sheriff’s Office to the benefit of both the community and members of law enforcement.
10. Recommend to the Sheriff to examine whether methods exist to use equipment with military appearances where necessary to control public disruption and protect lives, but in a manner that reduces the possibility of instilling fear or apprehension on the part of citizens engaging in legitimate public assembly and speech.
“This is an important step forward for our Sheriff’s Office and our County,” said Theodore Kusnierz, Chairman of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. “We wanted to find updated approaches to policing in Saratoga County to ensure that our officers could do their jobs as effectively as possible while also making sure that our entire community feels safe and protected, and I believe this report and its recommendations will help us do that.”
Saratoga Springs City Supervisor Tara Gaston cast the lone vote against. While she said she favored the recommendations, Supervisor Gaston expressed concern that some of the recommendations – those instituting the use of body cameras and in-car videos, among them – lacked more urgent language that would see those recommendations implemented. “I’d like to see this not as a possibility to explore, but as a plan to be developed,” Gaston said.
The county Compliance Group reported that from 2016 through 2019, there were between 11 and 22 use of force reports per year. None involved the discharge of a firearm. Over that four-year period, 25 civilian complaints were received, 11 of them sustained. One complaint alleged excessive force, and one complaint alleged bias. Neither allegation was sustained.
Regarding last summer’s event in Saratoga Springs that involved a planned “Back the Blue” rally and a counter-protest by the groups “BLM” and “All of Us,” the Compliance Group said that while it had conducted no structured fact-finding hearing regarding the July 30 event, it did not identify any specific instance of misconduct on the part of any Sheriff’s Department employee.
“Nevertheless, many comments were made concerning the use of the MRAP and the “militarization” of police departments in general,” reads the group’s report. “Accordingly, the Compliance Group believes that the Sheriff should examine whether methods exist to use equipment with military appearances where necessary to control public disruption and protect lives, but in a manner that reduces the possibility of instilling fear or apprehension on the part of citizens engaging in legitimate public assembly and speech.”
Members of the Saratoga County Executive Order 203 Compliance Group are: Dr. Michael Prezioso, Director of the Saratoga County Mental Health Clinic, Chairman Undersheriff Richard Castle, Vice Chairman Darren O’Connor – Supervisor – Town of Malta Thomas Richardson – Supervisor – City of Mechanicville Opal Hinds – Community Member Karen Heggen – Saratoga County District Attorney Andrew Blumenberg - Saratoga County Public Defender.
The 30-page report may be found at: www.saratogacountyny.
County & City Police Reforms
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city is targeting an April 1 deadline to comply with an Executive Order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo stating that municipalities across the state adopt local plans for police department reform. Two special meetings of the City Council – to take place March 23 and March 31 - have been scheduled to review and approve recommendations for Saratoga Springs police reform.
Last June, in the aftermath of the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minnesota and subsequent protests across the nation demanding change and accountability among the law enforcement community, Cuomo directed a comprehensive review of existing police force deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices be conducted, and plans for reform adopted by local municipalities by April 1, 2021 to be eligible for future state funding.
Last week, the results of a survey used by them to assist in finalizing their recommendations to the Saratoga Springs City Council was posted online. The 97-page report may be read at: saratoga-springs.org.
On March 5, the 13-member Saratoga Springs Police Task Force released its 108-page report: Reinvention Plan: Toward a Community Centered Justice Initiative.
“It contains more than 50 recommendations intended to improve the policies and practices of the Saratoga Springs police Department,” city attorney Vincent DeLeonardis explained to the council during its meeting on March 16. “It is now up to the Council to review and deliberate on the proposed recommendations and determine which of those recommendations will be implemented – and how.”
A draft of the report may be viewed on the city website at: saratoga-springs.org.
“This is a big first step that we’re taking here, but it has to go on. We can’t possibly reform everything in seven months,” city Mayor Meg Kelly said, regarding the amount of time which the Task Force was granted to conduct their review – in between the time of Gov. Cuomo’s order and the city’ s adoption deadline.
“We have to have a plan moving forward and I think that’s what we’re doing with this resolution. We’re going to continue working with the Commissioner of Public Safety (Robin Dalton) and working with the chiefs to continue on the reform,” she said. “We have to submit something April 1 and then we can continue to work through all these changes. Police reform has to continue after April 1, it doesn’t end.”
Two special meetings of the City Council were scheduled to specifically review the task force recommendations for police reform. Those meetings will take place 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 23 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 31. The meetings will be live streamed via Zoom and on the city’s website, and public comment will be allowed at both meetings.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Public Safety Department is comprised of a full-time administrative office staff, a Police Department, Fire Department, Code Enforcement Division, Central Dispatch, Traffic Maintenance, Animal Control Officers and a Health Officer. There are approximately 161 full-time and 11 part-time employees. The part-time employees work as school crossing guards, vehicle traffic controllers, part time cleaners, part time clerk and summer laborers at the traffic garage.
• The Fire Department operates out of two fire stations and serves the City of Saratoga Springs, which encompasses 29.07 square miles of residential, commercial, and agricultural properties and parks.
• Fire Department 2020: The Saratoga Springs Fire Department responded to 4868 calls for service, which represents a 7.38% decrease overall from 2019. Specifically, there were 85 calls for service regarding fires – the highest number of fire responses since 2017.
• Ambulance 2020: 3,454 Emergency medical calls, a daily average of 9.46, and 2,269 transports.
• The Police department currently employs 72 sworn law enforcement officers. Over the past five years, averaged approximately 30,500 calls for service, 1,290 arrests, and 28.33 incidents involving uses of force per year.
• Police Department 2020: 30,880 calls for service. The Investigations Unit assisted in 39 missing person cases in 2020, and officers deployed Narcan on 16 separate calls for service.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — One year after battening down the hatches in response to the oncoming 2020 pandemic, area performance venues are starting to piece together their plans for reopening.
“The one-year anniversary of shuttering the venue, with no clear end in sight - but then came the sudden news that performing arts venues in New York State are allowed to re-open at 33% capacity on April 2,” said Caffè Lena Executive Director Sarah Craig, in a posting on the venue’s website. “It means we can stop treading water and we can start swimming toward a goal.”
The café plan is to reopen April 2 with safety protocols in place. While guidance would allow 35 people at the venue, the capacity will be limited to an audience of 24.
“We won’t serve food and drink yet. That means masks can (must) stay on from entry to exit,” Craig said. “We’re getting the air filter systems that we didn’t think we’d need ’til September. Even so, we’ll keep the windows open a little. Wear a sweater.”
Caffè Lena first opened in May 1960 as a small beatnik coffeehouse, Bob Dylan first visited the club in 1961 and played a full weekend of shows for which he was paid a total of $50. Appearances by Rosalie Sorrels brought admirers like Hunter S. Thompson and William Kennedy to the venue, and in the fall of 1965, Don McLean made his first of his many appearances at the café.
In the 12 months since everything shut down, the café counts 209 livestreams it had broadcast and $100,000 raised for musicians.
In the meantime, Lenas continues to broadcast a slew of productions via its online platforms. For more information, go to: caffelena.org.
“We’re at the beginning of the end,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, during his March 9 presser. “The end is the vaccine. The vaccine is the weapon that wins the war. It’s going to still be an annoying few months, but we’re getting there.”
Plans are also underway at the 700-seat theater-in-the-round space at Universal Preservation Hall (UPH).
“We will open the hall in July for the School of the Performing Arts for Kids – a rock music camp for middle-schoolers, and our goal is to become an exhibit hall in the summer,” says Teddy Foster, campaign director at UPH.
“I don’t know what April will bring, so right now we are holding tight, but we will be doing another exhibit this summer – which was our plan all along, to become an exhibit hall in the summer and put on really cool, family-friendly exhibits which will also help draw people downtown.”
Last year’s interactive summerlong exhibition featured music-themed pinball machines and memorabilia from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame that featured artifacts used by everyone from Dolly Parton to Alice Cooper.
“Even in the middle of the pandemic last summer our pinball exhibit brought in 2,000 people,” Foster says. In “normal” times, UPH anticipates it will serve an estimated 65,000 visitors per year, with a $3.5 million annual economic impact as a year-round venue space, according to a statement issued in 2018,
The building was erected in 1871 and served as a Methodist church for its first 100 years, as well as playing a role in the city’s civic life by providing a venue for visiting statesmen including Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, William Jennings Bryan and Frederick Douglass. But by the 1960s, it had fallen on hard times. Local preservationists organized a nonprofit group and helped save the structure. More recently, Foster oversaw an operating alliance created with Proctors, and a $13.5 million renovation project that followed was celebrated with a fabulous opening night performance featuring Rosanne Cash last Feb. 29 to re-christen the grand hall.
This coming summer’s exhibition, which Foster didn’t identify by name, is currently being negotiated and anticipated to open in late July for a display that will be active for a number of months. When the venue does reopen to the public, everything will be staged in a safe manner, Foster says. “One of the things that makes UPH so safe to be in is we have an extremely high-tech HVAC system and we clean like maniacs, so people will be able to come into our building with confidence because it’s safe.”
For more information about UPH, go to universalpreservationhall.org.
VICTORY — A once-burgeoning mill a top a historic landscape has been targeted for a large-scale residential reuse that could transform this small Saratoga County village located on the north bank of Fish Creek.
The village of Victory, located in the town of Saratoga, counts approximately 600 residents and borders the village of Schuylerville. It played an important role during the era of the Battle of Saratoga in the 1770s and a century later served as the home of the Victory Manufacturing Company – employer of several hundred people. After hitting its peak in the 1870s, an economic downturn in the early 20th century forced the company known for creating high quality cotton goods to begin laying off employees.
The mill – built in the early 20th century and standing just north of the site of the original 1846 plant – was last occupied in 2000. This week, the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency approved $41.9 million in tax incentives over a 30-year period in connection with a plan that calls for the redevelopment of the mill to house 186 apartments.
The 186 apartments atop the 6.6-acre property would include 127 one-bedroom and 59 two-bedroom apartments with rents anticipated to range from $800 to $1,300 per month, says Larry Regan, president of Regan Development Corporation.
The anticipated residents filling the apartments of the converted five-story building Regan says, “commuting professionals looking for a place that is not in a downtown city, who want more of a suburban location in a cool retro-fitted building, and who want a large, good-price-point affordable apartment.”
Regan Development has been involved in quality developments and revitalization throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut for a generation, most recently a complex that combines 72 workforce rental apartments at the mixed-use five-story Swinburne Building in Albany.
“This would not only be a boon to the community for the residential, but we’re looking to do a brew pub with a group that would have their brewery operations in the back on the lower section, with a patio that faces the Fish Creek. That section is very picturesque. We’re also looking to build an amphitheater for outdoor concerts in the warmer weather,” Regan said.
“We worked very hard to come up with something that’s not just a residential use, but a mixed-use to try and synergize economic redevelopment and revitalization of the building and the village. We want to make this right, not only as a residential spot but as a destination for people to come and enjoy.”
Following the departure of the building's last tenant in 2000, its assessed value fell from $3.7 million to about $650,000. A Malta resident purchased the lot in 2003 with designs of renovating it for mixed-use space, but nearly $460,000 in unpaid taxes were accrued before the project could get started. Harmony Group Capital, led by developer Uri Kaufman, subsequently secured the Victory building, and the sale to move forward with the Regan Development project may come as early as June. Regan says approvals have been secured from the local Planning Board and Saratoga County IDA, and village building permits have been filed.
“Timewise, right now, things are in a state of flux because of the state budget - we’re using a fair amount of state resources here - and because of COVID; costs for things like lumber and metal have gone up substantially, so we’re sort of waiting in a queue and hoping things can move forward for a potential June closing,” he said. “If not June, then we’re hopeful for a year-end closing. So, this is going to happen. Everything is in place.”
Construction would start as soon as a scheduled closing date is secured. The construction process is anticipated to take about two years, Regan said.
“We’re very pleased with the relationship we have with the village, with the town, with the county and with the state. Everybody’s coming together to make this happen. It’s just a matter of waiting COVID out - and then hit the ground running.”
• The council approved a resolution that allows local restaurants to begin outdoor seating on Monday, March 15. A similar temporary resolution was first initiated in 2020 to assist restaurants limited in their indoor occupancy due to pandemic protocols, and ultimately expired Dec. 31. “This resolution (in 2020) significantly impacted the city eating and drinking establishments,” said city Director of Risk and Safety Marilyn Rivers. “We’re looking forward to a very robust tourist season.”
• Should President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan receive Senate approval, the city of Saratoga Springs is anticipating the receipt of approximately $7 million of the $440 million overall funds estimated for municipalities in Paul Tonko’s 20th Congressional District, Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said this week. The majority of those funds - about $5 million – will cover the city’s 2021 retirement costs, Madigan added. The remaining $2 million will assist in covering revenue, the specific details of which were
• Police Reform Task Force. Last August, the mayor appointed approximately one dozen members of the community to serve on the Saratoga Springs Police Reform Task Force. The move was in response to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s June 2020 Executive Order requiring municipalities across the state to undertake a review - and with community input, develop a plan - to improve its existing police policies, practices and procedures by April 1, 2021.
• A public forum was held this week regarding a draft of the plan, and it will be presented to the City Council for review, said city attorney Vincent DeLeonardis. The council will ultimately decide which recommendations will be implemented as well as how they will be implemented. The council next meets March 16 and DeLeonardis said he anticipates a special City Council meeting will be held in late March to evaluate the plan, in advance of the April 1 deadline.
BALLSTON SPA —
Saratoga County officials announced March 3 the launch of a new Potential Vaccine Interest List phone call-in number, which will now enable residents to sign up for the vaccine interest list by telephone. A similar companion registry was launched online on Feb. 17 and has secured the names of approximately 11,000 local residents.
As vaccines become available in the county, names are randomly selected for vaccinations and those people are notified. Signing up on the list is not a guarantee of getting a vaccine, officials noted.
Residents may continue to register directly online at www.saratogacountyny.gov/vax. The Inbound Call Center, which allows residents to sign up on the Interest List by telephone, may do so by calling 518-693-1075, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
If registered online, there is no need to call to register again, and there is no benefit to registering multiple times, county officials said.
Saratoga County Public Health Services is directly administering the Pfizer vaccine for the first time this week. Previously, the County had only offered the Moderna vaccine. Officials said they expect to have some of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccines available “very shortly.”
More than 45,000 residents overall – nearly 20% of the county population - have received at least one dose of vaccine. About 12,000 of those residents had been vaccinated by Saratoga County Public Health Services department or the county’s partners in the local EMS community. Just over 24,000, or more than 10% of county residents, have completed their vaccination series with both doses.
“In addition to our own clinics, we will continue to engage with our partners throughout the county to distribute vaccine as quickly as possible and hold mass-vaccination clinic events when supplies warrant,” said Saratoga Springs Supervisor Tara Gaston, who also is chair of the county Health Committee. Eighteen locations around the county have been identified as mass vaccination sites, including the Saratoga Springs City Center, and when the county is delivered from the state ample supply of vaccine to open a mass vax site, the county is prepared to do so, Gaston added.
Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine – which does not require cold storage – has arrived in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, during his presser on March 3. Approximately 164,800 doses are anticipated in that first J & J tranche and will be distributed while supplies last at mass vaccination sites to be open 24/7 later this week at Yankee Stadium, the Javits Center, and the New York State Fair.
The governor also announced new Gathering Limits. In effect March 22, residential gatherings maintain at 10 indoor, but go up to 25 outdoor. Social Gatherings in public spaces go up to 100 people indoors, 200 people outdoors.
Beginning April 2, event, arts & entertainment venues reopen at 33% capacity, up to 100 people indoor, 200 people outdoor. With attendee testing, capacity increases to 150 indoor, 500 outdoor. Masks and social distancing protocols still required.
Infection-wise, Saratoga County’s 7-day rolling average percent positivity is 2.3%, as of March 4. “The continued progress that is being made in the county is encouraging,” said Dr. Daniel Kuhles, commissioner of Saratoga County Public Health Services. “However, it is imperative that we do not lower our guard and leave our communities and hospitals vulnerable to another surge in cases.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — After serving Spa City customers for more than a quarter-century, a popular Phila Street eatery has closed its doors for the final time.
Four Seasons Natural Foods, which stood at the corner of Phila and Putnam Streets since 1990, is in the contract process of being sold to new owners.
“In the restaurant business, it’s a crazy ride,” says owner Richard Frank. The store portion of Four Seasons was relocated in 2014 to 120 Henry Street – where it has and will continue to operate - and the Phila Street location was re-configured into the Four Seasons café.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the country, and like many other businesses, the Phila Street venue was affected. “Everybody took a hit in sales, but as far as ours, last summer we were doing about 25% of what we had been doing the summer before,” says Frank, who grew up in Pennsylvania and was introduced to Saratoga when he began spending summers here at the age of nine.
Four Seasons was launched in 1988 near Caroline Street and Broadway and relocated to Phila Street in 1990 when Frank joined the store, leasing it for a handful of years before eventually purchasing the building in the mid-1990s. A relocation of the Four Seasons “store” to 120 Henry Street was made in 2014, with the Phila Street location moving into its “café” phase. The company scaled back during the pandemic in 2020 and closed its Phila Street doors in November.
“The moral of the past year is that you have to be flexible. What we thought we know, we don’t, and you have to be able to adapt,” Frank says. “I was sort of waiting to see what would happen next when a nice couple came and offered to buy the building. It made sense.”
The sale is under contract and as for future use, the expectation is the couple purchasing the building are interested in a retail endeavor. Since the 1930s, the single-story building has served as meat market and a grocery store, a military recruitment center, a wine store, and as Mrs. London’s Bakeshop and Restaurant during the 1980s.
“We were there 31 years, but overall, I think it’s great because the people seem super-excited and it’s great to see someone who’s going to love the building. It’s a great corner,” Frank says. “It’s definitely a loss of a casual vegan restaurant,” Frank acknowledges; however for Four Seasons at 120 Henry St., life goes on.
“We’ve always done sandwiches and soups and we’ve been augmenting our kitchen a little. We do our desserts at the café, but we’re going to be able to do them here. Over time (post-pandemic) we might be able to re-organize and have some sort of casual eat-in,” he says. “To some extent we’re not really doing anything different; yes, the café is a big piece that now won’t be part of us, but we’re still in business, we’re still doing food, I still have food service I believe in and we serve good products, so it’s not an end of the road or anything like that. If anything, it’s better here, better for our staff and better for our customers.”
BALLSTON SPA — A 64-year-old Schenectady man was charged with Making a Terroristic Threat, a felony, in connection with an incident that occurred late Sunday afternoon in Wilton.
The man - Gregory L. Craig, is suspected of making a 911 call shortly after 4 p.m. on Feb. 28 and stating that he was “going to blow up the Walmart store” in the town of Wilton, according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office.
The store was evacuated, secured, and swept by the Sheriff’s Office K9 units.
Prior to the threat, police said that Craig had been removed from the Walmart store for an unrelated incident. He was located a short time later on a public bus in Ballston Spa, attempting to return to Schenectady.
Craig was taken into custody without incident and arraigned by Judge J. Waldron of the Stillwater Town Court. He was sent without bail to the Saratoga County Correctional Facility and is scheduled to appear in the Wilton Town Court next week.
BALLSTON SPA — The Board of Supervisors this week moved forward with details regarding the selling of the building on Woodlawn Avenue in Saratoga Springs, as well as approving the hiring of additional employees for the Public Health Department.
The Board approved a resolution to hire a company to put up for auction the building it owns at 31 Woodlawn Ave. An existing lease of one floor of the building to Shelters of Saratoga for use as an overflow homeless shelter expires March 31. The auction is anticipated to take place online between April 6 and April 28.
The county also approved funds for new hires for its public health services department.
The measure includes the hiring of two Public Health Epidemiologists at the base salary of $73,127, and one Supervising Public Health Epidemiologist at the base salary of $83,444 - to investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans, and to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through research.
It also approved the hire of one Senior Public Health Educator to develop public health education campaigns, at the base salary of $59,522.
The projected starting date is Jan. 1, 2022 and the county offered as its reasoning, the following: as the county moves forward through to the eventual end of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, Public Health Services is in need of strong epidemiology capabilities for data analysis, displaying data, case investigation and contact tracing. Funds for the new positions will be covered by the county’s fund balance.
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, updated on the Board on the status of the COVID relief bill under review by lawmakers in the House.
“The current COVID relief negotiations are ongoing right now. President Biden has put forth a $1.9 trillion package,” Stefanik said. “It does include state and local aid, which I support, but it also includes a laundry list of very partisan requests and priorities of Speaker Pelosi such as increasing the minimum wage, such as economic stimulus payments to illegal immigrants. I hope that there will be a bi-partisan package that includes state and local aid (but) that’s not the direction this administration is going.”
Stefanik said projections are the bill would result in millions of dollars coming to Saratoga County and that “it will also include direct funding for every town, regardless of size.”
The House is anticipated to vote on the bill Feb. 26.