City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
SARATOGA SPRINGS — “Nothing bears any resemblance to past seasons,” says Elizabeth Sobol, president and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
The SPAC campus first opened on a July night in 1966 when it welcomed to the stage the New York City Ballet. A few hours downstate, Mickey Mantle hit a home run in each game of a doubleheader against the Washington Senators at Yankee Stadium, and all across America, The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” dueled with Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers In The Night” for a spot at the top of the charts.
In ballparks, across broadcast networks and atop performance stages, last summer was like no other, preceded by a distress of unpredictability over what could happen. Looking ahead to the upcoming summer, that still unpredictable aura has seemingly transformed into what can possibly be.
“This time last year – March, April, May – when it was clear what was going to end up happening – we started asking ourselves the question: Who and What is SPAC when you can’t use the amphitheater?” Sobol says.
Currently, there have been “regular and very fruitful conversations with all our resident companies,” she explains, referring to the New York City Ballet, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. “There is a huge effort going across many different organizations, because we all know how important it is to have some presence by these companies up here. We’re committed to having all of them in Saratoga and they’re committed to being here in some way, shape or form.”
SPAC also plays host to the annual Saratoga Jazz Festival, Opera Saratoga, and a summerlong staging of pop concerts presented by Live Nation, as well as the annual Saratoga Wine and Food Festival and an additional slate of imaginative programming. Right now, what form they will take: “Nobody knows yet,” Sobol says. Still, preparations are underway. And there have been a multitude of things learned.
“We learned so much about so many things. It gave us time and quiet to contemplate things we normally don’t have time to contemplate. The last year has honed our skills living with the jaws of uncertainty wide open, 24/7, and it’s forced us to not take anything for granted.”
Showing its merits beyond an oft-misplaced public perception as being solely a site for an amphitheater, SPAC exhibited its mettle as a holistic organization with a series of community collaborations alongside cultural agencies and the business community, as well as continuing its outreach in the world of education – where in 2019 alone it served 50,000 students around the Capital Region and worked with more than 120 local schools and non-profit organizations to present more than 400 unique classes, events, performances, and presentations.
“We started asking ourselves: How can we provide experiences that bring people together around beauty, rather than pushing them apart. That kind of informed everything we did: let’s look at our campus like a blank canvas and all the opportunities and possibilities we have here. So along with that question of who and what is SPAC when the amphitheater stage is dark, is also the question of how we can best serve art, artists and the community.”
On campus meanwhile, the organization last summer unveiled The Pines at SPAC. The new 4,000 square foot indoor/outdoor, year-round education and community events space features a pavilion and a terrace where some small gathering events may take place. While it is a structure much of the public has not yet seen, The Pines has been used to host more than 200 events since late last summer, 50 people maximum capacity at a time, and the grounds have also featured things such as dance classes, wellness classes, a teaching space for healing arts practitioners, and the launching of Culinary Arts at SPAC events.
A “Soundwalk” project was also initiated, merging performance and programming that takes audiences more into nature. “An embracing of our place in the natural world in a much more direct and celebratory way is going to be a big piece for us moving forward,” Sobol says. “Anything we could do using our rigorous COVID protocols and procedures to create a safe space for people to gather outdoors and do the things they needed to do for their soul. So, we now have a blueprint for doing things on a very small scale, for being flexible and agile. It honed a lot of skills for us.”
SPAC’s summer ballet gala will be re-imagined in 2021. “It’s not going to be a massive event with hundreds of people at the Hall of Springs on the lawn, but now that we know we can replicate these events – let’s say it’s for 50 people - maybe we’ll do 5 or 10 of them. We now have that blueprint, and we can execute that pretty nimbly,” she says. A culinary concept that has to do with ballet history is also being put together for a limited capacity gathering in 2021, and possibilities of having “rolling audiences” – that is, a few hundred people being rotated into the grounds at any one time – are being considered as a way to stage the summer Jazz Fest.
“We’re looking at every possible option so that if things are still very restrictive, we can accommodate that, and if they are looser we can accommodate that too,” Sobol says.
“‘All of these things are things we’re all working on together – how to bring companies to Saratoga, finding ways to perform that are safe for the audience and the performers and the crew, and also models that are financially viable for us and for them.”
Promoter Live Nation will have its own decisions to make regarding the summer pop season. More than one dozen scheduled shows are slated to take place from mid-July through September, featuring artists such as Rod Stewart, Hall & Oates, Maroon 5, Backstreet Boys, and Alanis Morissette, among others. A phone call to Live Nation seeking comment for this story was not returned.
As far as capacity in the amphitheater, a 10% max limit recently imposed on large venues by Gov. Cuomo would keep the audience inside the pavilion to 500 people, although those percentage numbers could fluctuate depending on vaccine roll-out and COVID-19 infection rates. SPAC being an amphitheater – a somewhat open building with an attached outdoor lawn – the stipulations specific to the venue are not clear.
“We are working on a regular basis with the governor’s office to talk about what amphitheaters look like, what that’s going to be, but imagine if we’re still at 10%,” Sobol says. “Even if we do use the lawn, we’re still limited to 500 people in the amphitheater. If they don’t give us a percentage but say we have to limit according to the six-foot rule, then that would limit us to about 1,200 people. It has enormous financial implications. And none of us knows right now. Trying to plan for July and August when we don’t even know when vaccinations are going to be widely available is tough,” she added.
SPAC is a 501(c)3 charitable organization with an annual operating budget of about $10 million. To normally meet that budget, about $5 million in revenue is generated from ticket sales, rent paid by promoter Live Nation which stages the summer pop concerts, and other miscellaneous sources. The other $5 million must largely be raised through SPAC memberships, charitable donations and corporate underwriting.
When programs were first cancelled last May and June, SPAC projected a $1.3 million shortfall, “but the community really rose up and was so generous that we ended up able to end the year in the black, so there’s tremendous gratitude around the generosity of the community,” Sobol says. “But at the same time, 2021 is going to be a lot more perilous for us, because we didn’t have the (high) costs last year. We are committed to major resident companies, so support at SPAC for this year is going to be even more important than it was last year.
“Most of our planning is done years in advance and right now what we have is about 50 plates juggling in the air waiting for a moment – which will probably be sometime in early April - to say this is our best bet of what three months is going to look like, because we’ve got to basically have 90 days between the time we pull the trigger on something, and we have our first performances. That’s an absolute minimum,” Sobol says.
“It’s also about the perception. There are more and more studies out there that ask, ‘Do I dare go out into an environment where there are hundreds or thousands of people?’ That’s the big quotient we can’t predict: behavior.”
Ultimately, SPAC is planning to actively showcase all its resident companies in 2021. “We just don’t know what that’s going to look like,” Sobol says. “Is it in the amphitheater at vastly reduced capacities? Is it in some other performance space – because if we’re seriously limited then we may have to look at some other spaces. But, we are committed to having the musicians and the dancers here in some capacity.”
WILTON — Kirklin Woodcock has served as Highway Superintendent in the town of Wilton since the 1980s, overseeing a crew charged with the maintenance of approximately 100 center-line miles of town roads.
The lifelong Wilton resident has decided this year will be his last as Highway Superintendent. This week, Woodcock spent some time to talk about accomplishments of the position, his personal life, and how Wilton has changed in the years since his earliest days of growing up in the town during the 1940s.
Q. Tell us about your personal life.
Woodcock: I’m a native, from Wilton. I’ll be 80 in March and I’ve been married 57 years. My wife’s name is Sandra and I have one daughter, Deborah. She’s married with one daughter, so I have one grand-daughter - that’s Caitlyn. She’s in college and going for her master’s at MIT. I grew up as a country boy with a huge family. Three sets of twins, and I am a twin.
Q. How has Wilton changed over the years?
Woodcock: I would say the biggest change was when the Northway came through in the ‘60s. It split our town in half. There were some farms, and I’m talking some real nice farms, years ago along that Northway corridor, and the Northway split them in half. Since then, it’s pretty much grown into a residential area.
Also, if you look at the growth around the mall area, back when we used to have Pyramid Mall, and the growth with Target and Ace Hardware distribution places in Wilton, it brought in a lot of jobs. It’s been quite a change. But, you have to go with the change.
Q. Tell us about your long-held position as Highway Superintendent.
Woodcock: The thing you have to remember with the job is that you work for the residents of Wilton. That’s always been my goal, to satisfy them and to work with all the other departments.
I’ve been the highway superintendent for more than 30 years, re-elected every two years. I had eight years on the town board prior to that when I was also working for UPS – where I had a 20-year career.
We do all the maintenance of the roads – building, construction, and during the wintertime of course we maintain the plowing. We also work with a lot of the other departments. We have been a major player in Gavin Park, Camp Saratoga, and we’ve put some effort in at Grant’s Cottage; we worked on the Maple Avenue Firehouse when they were getting going with their new building.
We had a major fire in 2002. The fire was a major catastrophe for me because I put so many years in and then in three or four hours it was all gone, and boy that’s devastating, That kind of set us back for a little while, but we got through that and here we are today with a major town along the Northway corridor. My crew is second to none. They’re a phenomenal crew.
Q: You’ve decided to not seek re-election for another term in November?
Woodcock: I have a couple of projects I want to see finished, but I will not seek re-election in November. I built it up to where it is today. When I started out it was nothing, we had a pile of dirt roads and I want to turn this job over to someone who I’ve been training for a while. I don’t want to get to get too much into the politics of it, but I certainly would like my deputy Mike Monroe to take my job, if that would be the wishes of the residents of Wilton. He’s been in my department about 20 years and can certainly do the job.
Q: What will you most miss?
Woodcock: I’ll miss the guys and I’ll miss my colleagues. But it’s time to turn it over to someone who’s younger and I want to set aside some time for myself. I have some hobbies - I do some auctions, I’m going to try and play some golf maybe, weather permitting. All of my friends are here. I’ll miss it, but I won’t have to get up at 2 or 3 in the morning and I can sleep in if I want.
I’ve also been dedicating my time and what I can do for the Double H (Ranch) Hole in The Woods. We do a fundraiser for them every year and try to help out. I would imagine, in the 25-plus years, we probably raised $200,000 to $300,000, I would think.
Q. That’s the camp Paul Newman was involved with?
Woodcock: Paul Newman and Charlie Wood. I knew Charlie Wood from before. Paul Newman joined forces with him and got that all going. It’s unbelievable because back in the ‘60s before I settled down, I worked at the Double H Hole in the Woods, in what used to be Hidden Valley Dude Ranch. Our crew back then we did the first thousand feet of grubbing for the ski slope up there, drilling the rock and blasting. That’s when I was a young guy. You know, it’s funny when you realize what you did then, and you see what it is today – it’s a big change.
I’ve had a great run and I think it’s maybe time to sit on the side and enjoy some other things. At least I can ride by and say I was a part of it.
Robin Dalton grew up in a Republican household, and it is the one party she’s been affiliated with during her adult life.
In 2019, after announcing her candidacy for the position of Public Safety Commissioner, she successfully ran as a Republican on the Republican, Independence, Libertarian, Conservative, and SAM party lines, besting Democrat challenger Kendall Hicks by 7 points, and taking office in January 2020.
A week-and-a-half ago, she submitted paperwork seeking to change her status as a registered member of the Republican Party to having no official party affiliation. The move comes at the same time that Dalton has announced her bid for re-election in November.
“The Republican Party on a national level has taken a very extreme turn. That’s not a reflection of any one thing in Saratoga Springs. It is my discomfort with Donald Trump and his presidency and where it was leading the party - devolving into a party that represents a very anti-democratic sentiment. I could not identify the fundamental principles of the Republican Party as I knew it, growing up,” Dalton says.
“Challenging the votes of a fair and democratic election. The insurrection at the Capitol. The way the party has allowed itself to be represented by Marjorie Taylor Greene. That’s just not who I am,” Dalton says. “I didn’t leave the party, the party left me, and I know that there are a lot of other people out there that feel the same way.”
She first began closely observing city council meetings about a decade ago and says she was encouraged that political partisanship did not seem to play a factor in the way the city council presented themselves or the ways in which they voted. It is something she is adamant about wanting to see continue.
“Being at the City Council table in Saratoga Springs has no correlation to any particular political ideology and my party affiliation has never had anything to do with any decision in my position in Saratoga Springs, it’s not going to affect my dealings with things in Saratoga Springs at all,” she says.
There are five at-large City Council members – one mayor and four commissioners responsible for the variety of different city departments, with decisions made during twice-a-month public meetings by simple majority rule. In Saratoga County, 2021 Primary Elections are slated to take place June 22 and the General Election on Nov. 2 – at which time all five council seats will be up for vote.
“I am seeking re-election in the fall and I did have five party lines in 2019, which was awesome. I also had this incredible coalition of bi-partisan support. I campaigned with people from different parties and it went very well because we all prioritized city over party,” Dalton says. “I do have to get the endorsement of a party, or people will have to write me in - so I am seeking any endorsement opportunity that I am approached with, and any party that’s willing to interview me I will interview with and seek the endorsement of.”
Moving forward, she will be independent of any party - not to be confused with the Independence Party, which actually is a party. Being independent of party is a situation former council member Matt McCabe was previously successful in, serving two terms as Commissioner of Finance.
The Commissioner of Public Safety position is an especially challenging one since 2020 as it directly addresses issues of social justice and the response to the pandemic – the latter being charged with issues of adapting safety compliance measures, re-opening plans and disseminating local vaccine information as it trickles from the federal government to the state, the state to the county, and then into local municipalities. For Dalton, this has included setting her alarm to two-hour intervals overnight to refresh online vaccination site availabilities for residents who have contacted her office, and successfully facilitating scores of appointments for some of those residents in the process.
Regarding social justice issues, a politically charged environment trickling down from the federal level has made solving complicated issues even more so. “I support our police department, and I also recognize white privilege and want to fight for social justice and equality and inclusion, and address race and bias in a comprehensive way. To not be able to have both of those things in one person is just absurd to me,” Dalton says.
“I am so appreciative of every party that supported me in 2019, especially the Republican city committee. They were incredible. They got me elected. And I’m deeply appreciative of their support and hope I will continue to have that support,” Dalton says. “The philosophy I’ve always had going into politics here was that I was going to be my most sincere and authentic self, and that if I couldn’t do that I wasn’t going to pursue this line of work. Fortunately, I’ve been able to maintain that and people who have known me politically here know that I’m (politically) moderate. I’ve never been someone who swings hard right or left.
“Right now, it’s a really hard time to be a moderate (and) in this political climate, I have no idea where either party is headed. People expect you to be one extreme or the other. Suddenly national issues have also become local, but I just don’t feel comfortable keeping an association with a party based on their actions on a national level,” Dalton says. “Even though that puts my political future here in jeopardy - because I risk not having a line at all on the ballot in November - I needed to be comfortable with myself and my choices.”
Overall, in Saratoga County, there were about 62,700 active registered Republican Party voters, 49,600 Democrat Party voters, and 43,200 voters unaffiliated with any party on Election Day 2020. Despite that majority of registered Republicans, the Democrat-led Biden/Harris ultimately bested the GOP’s Trump/Pence ticket, in the process keeping alive Saratoga’s reputation as a bellwether county with a voting streak of accurately selecting the nation’s next president across this entire century, and at least into the 1990’s. For comparison purposes, voters of Clallam County, Washington, have voted the winning candidate in every presidential election since 1980.
The state Board of Elections publishes updated party enrollment statistics three times each year with the next due report date slated for April 1, at which time it will be possible to gauge if there has been any switching of parties among local voters.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Markets announced this week that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement to create an alliance between the two independent grocery chains, nearly doubling their collective footprint in the Northeast.
The transaction unites two New York-based grocery chains, and the merged companies say they are expected to be better positioned to compete and offer more value and services to their customers across the Northeast.
Based in Schenectady, Price Chopper/Market 32 was founded by the Golub family in 1932 and operates 130 Price Chopper and Market 32 grocery stores and one Market Bistro, employing 18,000 in New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Locally, the company has stores on Railroad Place, and on Ballston Avenue in Saratoga Springs, on Route 50 in Wilton, as well as sites in Clifton Park, Mechanicville, and Malta.
Tops Markets is based in Williamsville, New York, located in Erie County, and operates 162 grocery stores in New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont, including five that are run by franchisees. According to the company, it is the largest private, for-profit employer in Western New York, and counts more than 14,000 associates.
Scott Grimmett, Price Chopper/Market 32's President and CEO, will be CEO of and serve on the Board of Directors of the new parent company which will oversee the operations of nearly 300 Price Chopper, Market 32, Market Bistro and Tops Markets stores and collectively employ more than 30,000.
Frank Curci, Tops Markets Chairman and CEO, will serve on the Board of Directors of the new parent company and as a consultant to assist in the transition. Blaine Bringhurst, Price Chopper/Market 32's Executive Vice President of Merchandising, Marketing and Store Operations, will lead the Price Chopper/Market 32 business. John Persons, Tops Markets President and Chief Operating Officer, will lead the Tops Markets business.
The new parent company will be headquartered in Schenectady. The Price Chopper/Market 32 and Tops Markets businesses will retain main offices in Schenectady and Williamsville and will continue to be managed locally by their respective leaders.
"This merger marks a major step forward and collectively elevates our ability to compete on every level," said Grimmett, in a prepared statement. "It leverages increased value for our customers; advances shared opportunities for innovation; fortifies the depth of our workforce, community and trade partnerships; and ultimately accelerates our capacity to deliver a distinctively modern and convenient shopping experience. Given the vital role that supermarkets and their workforces play in our communities, particularly this past year, I am excited to lead the parent company of these two historic grocery retailers."
The transaction is expected to close in the upcoming months, subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — You can find him standing behind the barber’s chair, five days a week, inside of the red brick building on Washington Street where the front door entryway is flanked by the spinning red, white and blue colors of a barber pole, and a flat metal sign that tells you you’ve arrived at Larry’s Barbershop.
It is a station where he has stood for more than 50 of his 77 years, and since the year The Beatles broke up, since actor George C. Scott played U.S. General George Patton on the silver screen, when a gallon of gas set you back thirty-six cents.
“I worked in Glenville when I first started, then I came up to Saratoga and bought the barber shop on Van Dam Street from Tom McTygue,” Jenks recalls. “There was about 10 years there, 20 years across the street from Wendy’s where the hospital property is now, and then I came over here, about 20 years ago.”
He was born in Corinth grew up in his mother’s native village of Ballston Spa, and after high school joined the Navy where he was stationed on an aircraft carrier overseas during the 1960s. He came home and secured a job with GE working in the turbine business when he made the career shift.
“My wife was a beautician, and I was working at GE when she suggested, ‘Why don’t you try barber-ing.’” He went to barber school in Schenectady and that was that.
“Back then, the young men had long hair, but there was always a certain amount that had traditional haircuts,” he muses. “The styles change, but other than a term, they come back to be the same as they always were.”
He has had longtime customers over several decades and has watched a generation of local kids grow up and have their own kids.
What’s most surprising? “You’ll be talking to a group of young men and realize that they’ve never been in a barber shop before, because they’d always gone to a salon. College kids especially. Salons for years now have done men and women,” Jenks points out. “The barber shop caters to men, whereas the salons cater to both.”
There is also the traditional barber’s pole out front. “Oh yeah, that’s how we’ve always been identified.” The history books teach that the red, white and blue identifier dates back several centuries to a time of the barber-surgeons - when haircutting was offered in addition to medical procedures performed.
Like most businesses, the era of COVID has been difficult. “There’s no hollering back and forth like it usually is, because of the virus. Now it’s pretty subdued,” he says, gesturing to a board that hangs on the outside of the front door where people sign one at a time, and noting capacity restrictions in line with safety protocols. “We’re very careful with masking and sanitizing and only one person per,” he says. The business was temporarily shuttered last year until hair salons and barber shops were allowed to re-open. Those first few weeks were exceptionally busy, with many in need of attention to their hair. Overall, he estimates there has been about a 60% loss of business compared to the time before the pandemic.
Jenks says if he hadn’t gone into the barber shop business, he most likely would have stayed at GE.
“I probably would have retired a long time ago,” he says, with a laugh. Someday, he will retire. “I don’t think about it, but I will someday, probably sooner than later for sure.”
For more on Larry's Barber shop visit https://www.bestprosintown.com/ny/saratoga-springs/larrys-barber-shop
At The DRC: Proposed Phila Street Demolitions Opposed by Preservation Foundation
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A request for demolition of two vacant buildings is getting push-back from the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation.
The matter is under consideration this week by the city’s Design Review Commission, although a late request was filed to adjourn the application until March 3.
The two properties, which stand at 65 Phila St. and 69 Phila St. were both constructed in the 1850s.
“Despite their poor condition, the buildings still retain their architectural integrity,” argues the Preservation Foundation – which was established in 1977 and cites as its mission “to preserve and enhance the architectural, cultural, and landscaped heritage of Saratoga Springs.” The two buildings have been listed on the Foundation’s “Ten to Save” list since the endangered list program was created in 1998.
Lengthy documentation about the properties and the application for demolition may be found on the city’s website at saratoga-springs.org under the Design Review Commission banner. The Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation’s response to the proposal of demolition may be found at: saratogapreservation.org.
• Approximately 300,000 doses per week are anticipated to be received by the state from the federal government for distribution. Additionally, a new federal government program will supply private pharmacies in New York with an additional 30,000 doses per week.
• Statewide: Approximately 2 million vaccine doses have been administered and of those nearly 20% of those vaccinated have received both doses. Locally, more than 22,000 Saratoga County residents have received one dose of COVID vaccine, and more than 5,000 Saratoga County residents have received both doses. In all, this accounts for more than 12% of county residents having been administered at least one dose of COVID vaccine.
• 7.1 million of a total population of 15 million New Yorkers are eligible for vaccines right now. Local governments may now add restaurant workers to vaccine eligibility lists. That call to add is up to local governments, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this week.
• The COVID infection rate in Saratoga County this week dropped to a weekly rolling average of 4%. This is down from a peak high of 11% on Jan. 7 and signifies the lowest infection rate in the county since the days immediately following the Thanksgiving holiday.
• Hospitalizations: The percentage of hospital beds available, and percentage of ICU beds available in the eight-county Capital Region of which Saratoga is a part, each remain among the worst in the state, as has been the case for the past several weeks.
• The county has a hold agreement with the Saratoga Springs City Center so the building may be used as a mass vaccination center when sufficient amounts of vaccine have been obtained. That determination will be made by county Public Health officials and at this time a date has yet to be targeted for its use.
• Important to know: After being notified of an unexpected increase in vaccine allocation, Saratoga County has recently focused on vaccinating seniors, both at county public health and directly at people’s homes. Many of those who were vaccinated came from the county’s Special Needs Registry. That registry includes county residents or caregivers of an individual with special needs such as mobility impairment, developmental disability, major respiratory illness, etc. County residents or caregivers of an individual with special needs may fill out the Special Needs Registry Application form accessible via: saratogacountyny.gov.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — This week residents of Prestwick Chase Senior Living Home received doses of the COVID vaccine.
As of Jan. 25, there were 18,116 Saratoga County residents overall who had received one dose and 3,083 county residents who had received two doses of COVID vaccine, according to Saratoga County Public Health Services.
According to President Joe Biden’s plan, vaccine distribution will be increased by 16% during the next three weeks. Most recently and before the increase was announced, New York State had received about 250,000 vaccines.
With a state distribution plan based on population, the eight-county Capital Region – of which Saratoga County is a part – receives 6% of the state dosages, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Using that equation, the Capital Region can expect about 17,250 vaccines per week for each of the next three weeks.
Through Jan. 27, about 1.4 million total doses – some of which includes second doses -were administered in New York State, about 96,000 of those in the Capital Region.
MALTA — Developers are targeting the southeast corner of Saratoga Lake for a potential project that would incorporate nearly 100 new condominium units along with a restaurant and other amenities associated with lakefront property in Malta.
Geoffrey Booth - of New York Development Group in Clifton Park, and Sophia Marruso - of Plan and Site Consulting at Ballston Lake, introduced a preliminary discussion of the potential project to the Malta Town Board on Jan. 25, during a town board meeting held virtually and attended by 70 participants.
The project site would feature new construction on property currently owned by the DiDonna Family at the Southshore Marina, located at the intersection of Route 9P and Plains Road near the southeast edge of Saratoga Lake and about 8 miles south of Broadway in Saratoga Springs.
The initial concept includes 96 condominium units anticipated to be approximately 1,500 to 1,800 square feet in size and at a height of two to three stories, Marruso told the board. A per-unit cost has not yet been specified.
“Although we have not defined a price point, this is certainly going to be an upper-end project, not a lower-end project,” said Geoffrey Booth, of New York Development Group. “I want the Board to know this is not meant to attract transients and to have people coming and going. The intent here is for home ownership and people who live in Saratoga and want to enjoy the lake.”
A formal application is expected to be presented “within the next month or two,” Marruso said.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Springs hosted its annual State of the City Address on Jan. 26.
Each of the five council members and both supervisors representing the city at the county level were allotted time to speak. The meeting included a moment of silence for all who died during the pandemic. COVID-19 accounted for the deaths of 108 residents of Saratoga County - 38 specific to Saratoga Springs, to date.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, the annual address was livestreamed via Zoom.
“There was a time when we thought we had (already) faced a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence: the lightning strike that closed City Hall in 2018 (and) relocated us to the Recreation Center for almost two years,” Mayor Meg Kelly said. “Obviously, 2020 unfolded in very unexpected ways. We had to pivot and work remotely, social distance, and meet in Zoom rooms.”
Here are some excerpts of the address. A transcript of the entire meeting may be read at the city’s website.
• The Saratoga Greenbelt Geyser Road Trail will soon open to the public and have a ribbon-cutting in the spring. The Geyser Trail is an 8-feet-wide, 2.8 mile-long trail that follows Geyser Road, from the Milton town line to the Saratoga Spa State Park.
• Renovation of the vandalized Civil War memorial in Congress Park is nearly complete and is anticipated for return to the park in the spring. Repair costs were covered by insurance; additional costs will be incurred for new security cameras and improvements to the site.
• The city delivered several new federally funded programs, including $540,000 in CDBG-CV funding to local service agencies, the COVID19 Small Business Grant Program, and the COVID-19 Emergency Housing Assistance Program - the latter preventing homelessness for 13 Saratoga Springs households. More than $490,000 in Block Grant funding assisted 3,000 households.
• In 2020, the city’s three Land Use Boards issued 178 decisions. There are currently 96 active applications in the review process.
• Due to the pandemic and subsequent shortage of business revenue and state aid in 2020 resulted in much lower sales tax, occupancy tax, service fees and other city revenues, reflected in the city’s 2021 budget, which was adopted on Nov. 30.
• In 2020 the city paved 12 main roads and intersections.
• Future: a Broadway Master Design Plan was created via a partnering of the DPW and the Downtown Special Assessment District. The aim is to incorporate many ideas into one cohesive plan that recognizes the historic charm of the city’s downtown, while acknowledging the growing community and business expectations for public spaces. More information about the initiative is expected in the near future.
At the county:
• The new Public Safety facility at the County Farm Road complex was completed and is in operation. The county approved $350,000 to improve technology in the board room, support live-streaming of meetings and increased public engagement, as well as install Public Wi-Fi in appropriate areas.
• A new Government Review and Efficiency committee was established and charged with the responsibility of looking at all of the county’s laws, policies, and procedures, appointed boards and committees, and as well review each departmental operation.
• The County created the new position of Commissioner of Saratoga County Public Health Services, and Saratoga Springs resident Dr. Daniel Kuhles was hired to fill the position. Steve Bulger was named new County Administrator.