City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
Drug Bust, Deputies Shot
BALLSTON SPA — Six minutes after sunrise Tuesday morning, members of the county Sheriff’s Office Special Operation and Narcotics Unit assisted the DEA in executing a federal search warrant at 312 Foxwood Drive. The warrant relating to a six-month long narcotics investigation.
“The Special Operations team announced their purpose and authority and entered the residence,” explained Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo. “A person inside the home began shooting at deputies.”
The person inside, identified as 23-year-old Anthony Zaremski, was the subject of the investigation leading to the search warrant.
“He struck two deputies with gunfire, at which time deputies returned fire,” Zurlo said. “Mr. Zaremski was pronounced dead at 9:15 a.m. at Albany Medical Center.”
The two injured deputies, who Sheriff Zurlo declined to name, have served with the department for five years, and two years, respectively. One was struck in the chest with a round that was deflected by life-saving body armor; the other suffered a shattered femur as a result of a serious gunshot wound to his thigh, Zurlo said.
The prognosis for both is excellent, he added. “The quick thinking and instinctive actions be the members of the Special Operations Team in rendering aid to the deputies – including applying two tourniquets to the deputy shot in the thigh - was nothing short of heroic.”
A DEA officer, who is also a medic, applied first aid to Zaremski until he was transported to Albany Medical Center.
Zaremski had a lengthy criminal history record, Zurlo said, including attempted murder, and criminal drug and loaded firearm possession charges. “We encountered a dangerous subject this morning when we entered that residence.”
Tuesday’s actions were part of an ongoing criminal investigation dating back six months and involve four search warrants in the Saratoga/Albany region.
“The seizures that resulted from today’s operation resulted in hundreds of thousands of fentanyl pills and ecstasy pills, multiple kilograms of cocaine and nearly 50 rifles and handguns,” said Frank Tarentino III, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division covering the State of New York. “The amount of Fentanyl pills we seized today is equivalent to roughly 60,000 lethal doses removed from the streets of this community.”
The tally of seized items is from the first three warrant searches. Any items seized from the fourth location – where the shooting occurred Tuesday – are not included in that tally, Tarentino said.
Sheriff Zurlo said he would not comment whether anyone else was present inside the home, other than that no children were present.
“This is the first time I think, in the history of the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, that we had two members shot,” Zurlo said, at a presser held in Ballston Spa Tuesday afternoon. “There are no words to sufficiently describe how grateful I am that this is only a press conference and not a eulogy.”
Memorial Day Ceremony at Saratoga Commemorates Those Who Have Served
SARATOGA — The Gerald B. H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery holds its 24th Annual Memorial Day Ceremony Saturday, May 27. The ceremony begins at 11 a.m. with a cannon salute.
“We’re going to honor and commemorate the service of the men and women who served. We’ll have a full-blown ceremony with a rifle salute, we have cannons here, music, song, speeches, replay presentations,” says Scott Lamb, cemetery director at Gerald B. H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery, located in the town of Saratoga.
Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery is New York State’s sixth national veteran’s cemetery and the 116th in the National Cemetery Administration. There are currently over 26,000 interments, which began in July 1999, over its 350 acres, 90 acres of which have been developed.
Saturday’s ceremony will include Master Sgt. John Leavitt, U.S. Army retired Vietnam Veteran as Keynote Speaker. Special guests also include WWII Veteran Ken Bailey, and Korean War Veteran Paul O’Keefe.
The ceremony is open to the public.
“It starts at 11 and we ask you give yourself a little extra time to get here a bit early,” Lamb says. “It is a well-attended ceremony and usually 1,500-plus attend. It’s a beautiful ceremony and we’re supposed to have beautiful weather. If you’re looking for a very relaxing ceremony, to sit in a chair, listen to some songs and hear a few people speak and commemorate and remember our men and women who have faithfully served, it’s a great place to do it.”
The cemetery was renamed after the late Congressman Gerald Brooks Hunt Solomon, who advocated for the cemetery to be in Saratoga.
“It was originally going to be in the Utica-Rome area. Congressman Solomon advocated for it to be here, close to the Saratoga battlefield,” says Lamb, a Navy Veteran who served from 1990 to 1998. Solomon was buried at the cemetery Oct. 31, 2001. Three months later, President George W. Bush signed legislation renaming Saratoga National Cemetery as the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery.
The ship’s bell from the USS Saratoga, CV-3, was installed as a memorial at the cemetery in 1999. The USS Saratoga was launched in 1925 and spent 20 years at sea, including action during World War II. An American gray granite memorial was erected in 2001 to honor veterans from Saratoga County. The American Veterans (AMVETS) donated a carillon in 1999, and a granite and bronze memorial was erected in honor of U.S. submariner veterans in 2002. The cemetery also has a walkway that features a variety of memorials erected by veterans and fraternal organizations in honor of events and fallen comrades.
More than 1.4 million veterans live in New York and more than 225,000 reside in the Albany/Saratoga area. Many of the questions the national cemetery in Saratoga is asked comes from veterans inquiring whether they are eligible for burial there.
“A lot of veterans don’t realize that they are eligible, along with their spouse, if married, and any dependent children. You don’t need to have served in war – you just have to have been honorably discharged and most folks don’t know that,” Lamb says. “There is some paperwork involved, and we encourage folks to look at that. I’m a veteran myself, and I did it to see how long it took. It was a very easy process, and I got an official letter back that basically says I’m deemed eligible for burial when the time comes.”
When a Veteran, service member, or family member qualifies for burial in a VA national cemetery, they receive certain burial benefits at no cost to their family. “After you come through the cemetery everything is paid for by the government - that’s the opening and closing of the gravesite, the placing of the headstone or marker, the perpetual care, the maintenance – all paid for, for you and your spouse,” Lamb says.
The cemetery in Saratoga conducts approximately 1,300 interments a year and has space available to accommodate casketed and cremated remains. Since 1999, the cemetery counts a total of about 26,000 interments and has ample space for expansion. Eligibility information for veterans may be found at: www.va.gov/burials-memorials/eligibility.
Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery is open daily from dawn to dusk and is located in the town of Saratoga. For more information go to: cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/geraldbhsolomonsaratoga.asp. Follow on Instagram: instagram.com/gbhs_saratoganatcem, and Facebook: facebook.com/NatCemSaratoga.
Commissioner Montagnino: Saratoga Springs Fire Chief Facing Sixteen Charges of Misconduct
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Sixteen formal charges of misconduct have been filed against Saratoga Springs Fire Chief Joseph Dolan, according to city Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino.
With the filing of the charges, Chief Dolan’s employment status goes from paid administrative leave to suspension without pay, Montagnino said in a statement.
The 16 charges, the details of which were released May 23, include multiple allegations of Dolan’s attending training at the State Academy of Fire Sciences in Montour Falls, as well as providing training at the Saratoga County Fire Training Center Center, and at the Troy Fire Department for which he was paid by the state, while not charging “leave time,” and so also being paid full salary as city fire chief.
The charges also allege an intent to obtain personal benefit by using a city-owned vehicle for personal use.
“I don’t believe there’s anything here that would warrant the termination of the Chief’s employment,” said Dolan’s attorney, Brian Culnan. “Based on the facts as I understand them, it’s obvious to me that the city is really not aware of a lot of the facts here and has charged him with a lot of stuff in which there’s really no wrongdoing.”
Dolan’s response to the commissioner’s allegations is anticipated in early June.
Mayor’s Non-Profit Grants Awarded to Four Local Organizations
SARSTOGA SPRINGS — The City Council approved the awarding of $10,000 Mayor’s Non-Profit Grants to four organizations.
Those organizations are: The Wesley Health Care Center, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs, Race Track Chaplaincy of America Metro NY Division, and Saratoga Springs Arts District.
There were 30 proposals vying for the grants, and each of the grants were unanimously approved by the City Council.
Wesley Health Care Center operates a Certified Nurse Assistants Training Program to prepare previously unemployed and underemployed Saratoga-area residents for CNA positions and guarantees employment for those who successfully complete the program. Approximately 78 individuals participate in the paid on-the-job training annually. The program provides a continual supply of certified individuals to fill open positions throughout The Wesley Community and other local health care organizations.
Funds will be used to purchase materials for trainees, who are provided with textbooks, CPR cards, gait belts, personal protective equipment, and other personal care tools for use during the training and beyond.
Citing statistics that express the importance of parents, guardians, and other family members of LGBTQ youth to have access to the resources they need to ensure their LGBTQ children are protected and supported, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs will use funds to develop targeted programs to support LGBTQ teens, parents and allies and the hire of professional facilitators, coordinators, presenters, and therapists to support that programming.
The New York Race Track Chaplaincy ministers to a community of stable workers and their families with children’s enrichment, teen mentoring, women’s enrichment, social service, recreational, and educational programs as well as non-denominational religious services. The funding allows the organization to continue serving the families of the backstretch community with excellence and provides the stability to relieve concerns regarding the number of families who may seek the organization’s assistance at Saratoga.
Identifying a project that will benefit merchants, restaurants and clubs by the increase of traffic to Beekman Street, the Saratoga Springs Arts District – located on Beekman Street – plans to use funding to hire a professional event planner who would select and organize visiting artists and makers, hire musicians, promote and advertise events, and serve as liaison for the merchants on Beekman, as well as use funds to hire artists to demonstrate their creative process during events.
City Preliminary Financial Report for 2022 Released – Highest Sales Tax, Occupancy Tax Ever
SARATOGA SPRINGS — City Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi presented the 2022 Preliminary Financial Report for Saratoga Springs for the Fiscal Year ended Dec. 31, 2022. The updated document was filed with the State Comptroller’s Office on April 28, 2023 and presented to the City Council on May 4.
Some of the comparable data of general fund revenues between 2022 and 2021: Sales Tax collections were $16.955 million, an increase of 13% over 2021; Hotel Room Occupancy Tax collections $743,000, an increase of 27%; Admission Tax: $451,000, up 13% over 2021.
In general fund expenses, Health Insurance costs were $7.824 million in 2022, an increase of 8% from 2021.
The unaudited numbers show an excess fund balance, but Sanghvi cautioned, “we need to be conservative in spending and look for additional revenue sources. The success of 2022 was largely due to Federal Funds, a one-time revenue source…we should be looking at building reserves, covering liabilities, investing in infrastructure and establishing stable revenue streams.”
Sanghvi said some potential future revenue streams include registration for short term rentals, and dispensaries and cannabis cafes – municipalities receive a 3% tax on cannabis sales, under New York State law.
The Finance Office is preparing the 2022 Financial Statements. Upon completion of the audit, the commissioner will publicly release the audited figures.
Saratoga County Offers a Ten Minute Discussion That Can Save A Life
SARATOGA COUNTY — It is a 10-minute discussion that can save a life. And it is offered free of charge.
“The level of overdoses we’ve seen the past couple of years…
we haven’t experienced this before in my 30 years,” says Saratoga County Health & Services Committee chairman Phil Barrett. “It crosses every demographic- age, gender, economics.”
On this day, Barrett is standing in a parking lot adjacent to the county building complex in Ballston Spa. He is flanked by a multitude of county health department workers wearing bright blue windbreakers that showcase the county seal and manning similarly draped tables where walk-ins are provided a 10-minute-long, one-on-one training session about administering nasal Narcan. The overdose reversal drug (Naloxone) works on opioids such as heroin, prescription pain medications and fentanyl.
Since January Saratoga County’s Department of Health has conducted more than 30 training events and distributed more than 3,400 two-dose Narcan kits across the county.
During the sessions, participants are trained to recognize an opioid overdose and how to administer nasal Narcan. The training takes about 10 minutes and participants receive a Certificate of Completion that states they have been trained in the use of naloxone for the purpose of preventing death from an opioid overdose. They are also given a free Narcan rescue kit, which includes two doses of Narcan, a rescue breathing face shield, a certificate of training, a drug disposal system, and a mental health and substance use disorder resource guide.
“The availability of drugs has always been there, but now you have an increased availability of cheap drugs that are extremely harmful, more harmful than we’ve ever seen,” Barrett says.
Less than six months into 2023, there have been more than one dozen fatalities in Saratoga County and about 250 countywide overdoses overall. The age-range: as young as 13, as old as 73. And that’s only the ones that have been reported. Over the previous five years, approximately 250 known drug-related overdose fatalities have occurred in Saratoga County.
“Each individual that attends one of these events you can save a life with everything you learn. That’s really the goal – to get as much information and resources to people directly in our communities.”
Nationwide, more than 101,000 reported fatal overdoses occurred in the 12-month period ending in October 2022, primarily driven by synthetic opioids like illicit fentanyl, according to the FDA.
“We know this is a huge issue nationally, statewide, locally,” said Board of County Supervisors Chairman Theodore Kusnierz. “The numbers tell the tale. We’re seeing increases every year in opioid overdoses, so In Saratoga County we’ve made fighting the scourge of opioids our top priority. Now that we’ve transitioned from the COVID-19 pandemic now we can focus particularly on this issue.”
Some of the ways the county is addressing the issue includes earmarking nearly $1 million – it has received about $900,000 in opioid settlement money to date – in what Kuznierz calls a multi-prong approach” which includes the Saratoga County Health Department, the Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, and the county Sheriff’s office in providing assistance for prevention, education, and treatment.
Specifically, the county has initiated a comprehensive, near real-time substance-use surveillance dashboard to help response efforts in combatting the opioid epidemic - at Savealifeto.day - authorized the spending of $50,000 to purchase a mass spectrometer – which rapidly detects specific substances involved in overdoses - and stages Narcan training and distribution events.
“We’ve seen the numbers and we know that they are not trending down, that’s for sure,” Kusnierz said. “I should point out that these are only reported cases. We know there are other cases that are not reported, so the numbers are even higher.”
An additional method of helping prevent drug overdoses and reducing harm involves Fentanyl test strips, or FTS. The small strips of paper can detect the presence of Fentanyl - an opioid 50-100 times more potent than heroin and morphine - in various different kinds of drugs. It is unclear whether the county has, or will have FTS, and make them available to the general public.
Narcan nasal spray was first approved by the FDA in 2015 as a prescription drug.
Currently, the State DOH provides the nasal spray to local health departments at no charge so they can provide training and free distribution of Narcan to their communities.
Six weeks ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the approval of Narcan nasal spray for over-the-counter, nonprescription, use. It is the first naloxone product approved for use without a prescription. When it does make its way onto the shelves of neighborhood stores, however, the cost of the nasal spray may get pricey. The county plans to continue to distribute the kits free of charge for as long as they have them.
For upcoming Saratoga County DOH training and distribution events, go to: www.saratogacountyny.gov/narcan.
Saratoga Arts: Revitalization for “Top-Notch Arts and Culture”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Community Arts Center is moving forward with a revitalization project to further provide a visually vibrant and sonically enhanced experience for creatives of all kinds in the region.
“We have set a robust plan of renovation and revitalization to bring this building and the services offered to meet the demands for top-notch arts and culture in a central hub,” said Saratoga Arts Executive Director Louise Kerr.
During the past three years, the organization engaged in talks with the Department of Public Works and the Office of the Mayor that have resulted in “friendly, and sometimes … spirited discussions,” Kerr said, with a laugh, adding that both city offices have been “incredible partners.”
In 1996, Saratoga Arts signed its first lease with the city for 320 Broadway. Located at the edge of Congress Park, the building had served as the former home of the Saratoga Springs Public Library. By 2000, the organization raised more than a half-million dollars through a capital campaign and invested in the building.
“Dee Sarno transformed the old library into an interdisciplinary arts center,” Kerr said. The funding allowed the specialization of spaces conducive to creating and presenting art across all genres.
Last year, the organization embarked on a fundraising campaign to stabilize and upgrade the entire building with an eye to energy conservation and efficiency. It would replace old redundant ineffective systems, install energy-efficient windows, and address numerous drainage and roofing issues as well as upgrade power and internal wiring systems.
“In November, when we announced that we needed to raise $2 million, Stewart’s Shops and the Dake Family Foundation immediately stepped up,” Kerr said. Earlier this month, Saratoga Arts announced it was awarded a grant totaling $766,000 from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) to help support the Saratoga Community Arts Center Revitalization.
“We’re thrilled to have received this grant from the New York Council on the Arts. It helps us get close to closing that gap in funding needed for the major structural, technological and desperately overdue rejuvenation of the community arts center,” Kerr said. “We do have a little bit of a gap still, but incredibly it’s much smaller than I anticipated it to be at this juncture. We’re looking to raise an additional $266,000. But that means that this Phase One of this project will be fully funded.”
Plans call for the reconfigure of classroom spaces at the arts center to provide indoor/outdoor access, specializing some spaces and creating flexibility in others to better serve artists of all genres and skill levels; renovating the gallery spaces to be energy efficient; upgrading the 100+ capacity black box theater to enable a flexible space for performing artists of all levels, film, music, exhibitions, artist talks and lectures.
The action plan for moving into the future includes the potential addition of an exterior patio space adjacent to Congress Park to be used for performances and classes, and the modification of interior classrooms to include a digital creative lab, print shop, rehearsal studio and a recording studio – open to all and providing musicians access to the space on a secure, 24/7 basis.
Currently, Saratoga Arts welcomes more than 30,000 visitors and appreciators of art annually. It hires local artists and teachers who engage over 500 students in all levels of arts education, and hosts over 70 exhibitions and special events allowing more than 700 artists to showcase and sell their work. As a regrant site, it also distributes over $140,000 dollars in direct funding from the New York Council on the Arts to Fulton, Montgomery, and Saratoga Counties.
In all, Saratoga Arts has brought the arts to over 1 million people through its programs and provided performing and visual artists opportunities to earn more than $3 million in art sales and performance fees.
“A round of applause to Saratoga Arts, your transformative project will ensure that our vibrant arts and cultural anchors continue to grow and thrive.” NYSCA Chair Katherine Nicholls said, in a statement. “These capital project grants are an investment from the people of New York to the people of New York and will have positive impact on our communities for many years to come. I congratulate Saratoga Arts and look forward to seeing all that will flourish from this project.”
For more information about Saratoga Arts, visit saratoga-arts.org
Under Development: 53 Putnam
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A six-story mixed-use building is proposed for development atop a currently vacant lot at 53 Putnam St., opposite the Saratoga Springs Public Library.
The proposed Putnam Commons, a multi-family new construction project, is slated to feature 3,900 square feet of commercial space on the first floor and accommodate 40 apartment units on floors 2 through 6. Those units will include: 30 two-bedroom units and 10 one-bedroom units.
The total gross square footage for the project is 53,480 square feet.
According to documents filed with the city, the project will support tenant off-site parking “with 50 spaces leased in the Civic Center Parking Garage.”
The project is under consideration at this week’s Planning Board meeting.
The State of City Council
SARATOGA SPRINGS — During its meeting on May 2, the City Council, by a 4-1 vote, approved a resolution that acknowledges “Saratoga Springs has supported and allowed racism and hate” during its history, and set the groundwork for the formation of an 11-member review panel to provide the council recommendations of what form restorative justice in the city should take.
Immediately following the vote, approximately 20 Saratoga BLM members and supporters stood and engaged in a collective chanting that disrupted the meeting and eventually caused an abrupt adjournment. The meeting would resume two days later.
May 2 marked the second time this year that a City Council meeting was shut down early.
On Feb. 7, during the Public Comment session, Saratoga BLM supporter Chandler Hickenbottom refused to “wrap up” her time at the mic after repeatedly being asked by Mayor Kim to do so. Official city meeting notes detail the activity: “chaos ensued.” Hickenbottom was later charged with disorderly conduct. Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino was the complainant in the violation charge, and the four other council members subsequently expressed disapproval of the action brought by their fellow Democrat.
The City Council’s April 4 meeting, while not concluded early, included a fracas which led to additional charges of two people. During that evening’s Public Comment session, as former Public Safety Commissioner and current city mayor candidate Chris Mathiesen referenced the Feb. 7 meeting as “mob rule,” Saratoga BLM founder Alexis Figuereo approached the mic and spoke into it. A subsequent commotion continued for several minutes. The meeting eventually resumed to conclusion.
Figuereo was subsequently charged with obstructing governmental administration - a misdemeanor, and disorderly conduct - a violation in connection with actions during the meeting. Local resident Bridgette Barr, who unfastened a thin barrier separating members of the council and the public and approached the council table while yelling at its members was similarly charged.
Asked whether charges related to the May 2 meeting might follow, Montagnino replied: “The truthful answer is: I don’t know.”
Five Saratoga County Sheriff’s department patrols were brought in at the request of the city police department and staged on Maple Avenue during the council meeting at City Hall, Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said.
“The Saratoga Springs City Police Department requested the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Departments assistance within the city to respond to residents’ public safety needs,” Sheriff Zurlo said. “I arranged for Saratoga County Sheriff’s Deputies to be present in the city so they could quickly respond to an emergency situation should Saratoga Springs residents or visitors need assistance that evening.” The deputies were never inside of the City Hall building, Zurlo added.
Additionally, Saratoga Springs City Police officers stood in a hallway adjacent to Saratoga Music Hall where the council meeting was held. Those officers remained in the hallway and did not enter the hall where the meeting was staged. Footage from two officer body-worn camera videos were released at the direction of Commissioner Montagnino detailing what went on behind the scenes as the meeting was taking place.
Montagnino said he held conversations with his deputy commissioner and the command staff of the police department “in response to significant activity on social media that indicated an intent to bring and recruit a large number of individuals to Tuesday’s City Council meeting.”
Members of the council expressed displeasure that they had not been made aware of the presence of officers in and outside the building prior to the meeting.
Mayor Ron Kim said that no information was presented regarding any security arrangement. “The mayor’s office, under the (City) Charter is the presiding officer. We weren’t aware of anything. I literally walked up the back stairway and bumped into three riot-geared police officers,” said Kim, adding that “10 sheriffs” had also been stationed nearby.
“No one was in riot gear; you’re making things up,” Montagnino told Kim. Saratoga Springs PBA released a statement this week specifying that the mayor “made false statements” regarding officers being dressed in “full riot gear” and that “ten” Sheriff’s Deputies were also in the building to make arrests, pointing to the body worn camera videos released as showing the statements to be untrue. The statements, the PBA said, “do nothing to further positive community relations between the police and members of the public,” and alleged behavior by “some elected officials and their open hostility to the mission of the Department of Public Safety and members of the police department.”
Thursday, May 4
The postponed May 2 meeting resumed on May 4, during which Mayor Kim discussed a threat he received from a member of the public and his dissatisfaction by Commissioner Montagnino’s reactions to it.
“I sent you an email several days ago that essentially threatens me, by a person who’s sitting in this room. And the reason I’m comfortable right now…is he’s sitting here in this room, so I can see him, and I don’t have to worry about the fact that my wife is home alone,” said Kim.
The interaction carried after the meeting over into the hallways of City Hall and a verbal altercation that ensued was released by the city police department as captured by city cameras and an officer’s body cam. The video depicts city Mayor Ron Kim using vulgar language in a confrontation with Public Safety Deputy Commissioner Jason Tetu, saying that his family is being threatened and apparently displeased about how the matter was being handled.
“He hasn’t even responded to me. I don’t want special treatment, I just want treatment that any other citizen I think would get,” Kim said in an interview. “When I did talk to an officer, he said: ‘oh yeah, we know that guy.’”
“The incident resulted in the filing of an incident report with the Saratoga Springs Police Department,” according to city police, in a statement issued alongside the footage. “At the present time, there are no criminal charges pending and the investigation has been closed.”
Former city Director of Risk And Safety Marilyn Rivers filed a lawsuit on May 8 against Mayor Ron Kim and Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino claiming a discriminatory and hostile work environment, the Daily Gazette reported this week. In the lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Saratoga County, Rivers claims her reputation was maligned by Kim.
Subsequent to the event, Saratoga Springs Republican Committee Chairman Mike Brandi released a statement calling on the council to act “to protect city employees and stop Kim’s abusive conduct,” and attached a FOIL response of two city emails penned by Kim – on Feb. 26, and on March 27 – with multiple usages of the f-word.
“They asked for every single email that I ever sent. So, I think that’s a pretty low percentage. I’m not excusing myself, but sometimes you see something and that’s how I react.”
City Looking to Site 24/7 Homeless Shelter on Adelphi Street by June 1
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city is looking at securing a public-private partnership with the locally based RISE Housing and Support Services to provide a year-round, low-barrier, 24/7 interim homeless shelter at 4 Adelphi St. by June 1.
That shelter will be in addition to any other potential future shelter plans that may be decided upon this summer.
The Adelphi Street building is the venue that served as the last city winter-seasonal temporary shelter. That lease, which was $8,000 per month and involved the Shelters of Saratoga organization, expired April 30. In previous years of operation, Saratoga County as well as the State have provided some level of funding support for shelter operations.
The agreement was to be discussed at length and voted on by the council earlier this month, but the item was pulled from the table after the council deemed an RFP (Request for Proposal) for the project would first be required. That initial draft agreement stipulated the city provide funds to operate the interim shelter from the date of execution to Dec. 31, 2023, and pledged sufficient monetary resources to fully fund the operations of the facility “for the 2024 Fiscal year and such future years as required.” It is not known how that potential agreement may differ when the proposal is returned to the table.
The RFP, issued May 10, states the city seeks to obtain proposals from qualified nonprofit organizations to operate a temporary low-barrier homeless shelter within the City of Saratoga Springs. Additionally, it specifies that the city anticipates awarding a 6-month contract for the remainder of 2023 and a subsequent one 1- year contract with up to three 3 additional 1-year renewal periods.
The opening of bids received has been scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30, after which the City Council may hold a special meeting – although a special meeting has yet to be announced - to meet the June 1 deadline.
Several details, including financial, need to be worked out before the agreement is made.
“We still believe that June 1, 2023 is a realistic goal for this first-of-its-kind for the city unhoused at this location,” city Mayor Ron Kim said, adding that “this is in addition to whatever Code Blue or Shelters of Saratoga would do. This is not to replace it.”
The Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness is currently searching for a permanent site for a homeless shelter and navigation center, and is anticipated to provide its recommendations to the City Council in July.
The mayor additionally thanked Sonny and Julie Bonacio “for stepping forward as generous benefactors to make this 24/7 shelter a possibility for our community.”
RISE Healthy Housing and Support Services (“RISE”) is a nonprofit organization, which has worked to prevent homelessness for the past 45 years and has provided assistance to homeless individuals in Saratoga County since 2017.