Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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BALLSTON SPA —The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors adopted its 2024 Saratoga County Legislative Program during its monthly Feb. 20 at the county complex in Ballston Spa. 

The 10-page document summarizes requested legislative action by state and federal officials, as well as identifying what the Board considers important priorities and initiatives for consideration at state and federal levels. 

Among the items under program’s General Government Services subhead is the county’s support of local municipal control to determine hours of retail sale of alcoholic beverages. 

Currently, the state’s Alcohol Beverage and Control Laws provide counties with an opportunity to submit a request to the State Liquor Authority to restrict hours of sale of alcoholic beverages on a county-wide basis. 

For more than a decade, officials in Saratoga Springs have attempted to initiate earlier bar closing times but with little success; As per current law, the county would need to advocate for earlier bar closing times across all county municipalities – which it has been reluctant to do. 

The Saratoga County Board this week pledged its support for a change to the ABC law to allow for local municipalities to make requests directly to the State Liquor Authority on their own, and for the SLA to determine hours of retail sale of alcoholic beverages based on municipality - without requiring county-wide actions and restricting sales in a neighboring town, city, or village.  The entry marks at least the second time in consecutive years the item has been adopted by the county Board of Supervisors.     

Even as the county may be open to local governments setting parameters for the hours of sale of alcoholic beverages within their own respective municipalities, cities and towns seeking to make any potential changes continue to face an arduous task as the ABC law would need to be amended in order for cities and towns to restrict hours. Consideration of such a law change would be up to the state legislature and there does not appear to be any pending legislation currently addressing the matter. 

• Saratoga County announced it was awarded $111,278 via a new fund created under the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to support youth team sports programs for underserved youth under age 18. The county was provided the award to disburse between 7 different Youth Team Sport programs. To that point, the Board of Supervisors voted to approve the execution of the subcontracts:  Mechanicville/Stillwater Little League - $15,000; MACSC Volleyball, Dodgeball League - $4,468; Mechanicville Stillwater United Soccer Club - $5,606; Schuylerville Youth Lacrosse $ 6,917; Department of Aging & Youth Services Administration 10% - $11,128. Agencies: Old Saratoga Athletic Association $31,999; Galway Baseball Softball League $18,160; Corinth Youth Hockey Association, Inc. $18,000. 

• County officials announced the creation of a school-based opioid and substance use disorder advocacy and support program to address and reduce the impact of addiction and opioid use disorder in Saratoga County schools. The new program will pair school resource officers with certified peer recovery advocates to help students in recovery. 

Tuesday, a resolution was approved for a two-year memorandum of understanding between the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office and the Saratoga County Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for the use of $205,000 in regional abatement funds authorized from the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS). The Sheriff’s Office will use the funds to contract with the Healthy Capital District Initiative (HCDI) and with two Certified Peer Recovery Advocates to launch the school-based opioid and substance use support program.

• The Board approved $48,837 in one-time funding as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to increase its capacity for provision of offsite services, one-on-one services, improvement of telehealth infrastructure, and other items. The top dollar amount appropriation increases are for:  Minor IT Equipment - $6,515, Office Equipment - $6,500, and Department Supplies- $5,200. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A ceremony at the Saratoga Music Hall will take place Feb. 29 when the 153-year-old hall will be re-dedicated as the Skip Scirocco Music Hall.

The hall will be named after Anthony “Skip” Scirocco, a lifelong Saratogian who served the city professionally - first as the animal control officer, then as elected Saratoga County Supervisor – from 1998 to 2005, and as a standing Commissioner of Public Works, starting in 2008.  Scirocco died in April 2022 at the age of 74 following a brief battle with cancer. 

Scirocco was born on Feb. 29, 1948, and Feb. 29 is why the date for dedication was selected, said current DPW Commissioner Jason Golub. 

In 2016, fear grew that the 300-seat hall was in its last days as a community gathering space, with the venue targeted by the city – in accordance with a state mandate - for conversion into a courtroom. At a public hearing hosted by the city, dozens of people spoke in protest of the council’s suggestion to turn the hall into a courtroom space, and an online petition titled “Save the Music Hall!” garnered more than 370 signatures in the three weeks in advance of the hearing. 

Saratoga Springs City Hall - which houses the music hall on its uppermost floor - sustained extensive damage following an August 2018 lightning strike, and the council subsequently determined a building-wide multi-million-dollar renovation and restoration project was appropriate. 

“The emergency following the lightning strike along with the mandates from the courts and legislature were circumstances outside of our control, but this Council has worked collaboratively to keep this project moving,” then-DPW Commissioner Scirocco said at the time. “It’s the largest and possibly the most important project the city will undertake in our lifetime… and I think the public will be pleased with all the improvements in their City Hall.”

The newly restored Saratoga Music Hall opened to the public in late 2020. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Public Works Commissioner Jason Golub and DPW Business Manager Mike Veitch provided an update Thursday of the city’s anticipated implementation of a summer 2024 downtown permit parking plan.

More than 50 people, most of whom are downtown business owners, attended the presentation at Saratoga Music Hall where the 25-minute presentation was followed by a 30-minute Q&A session.

The anticipated plan will affect more than 2,000 existing downtown parking spaces located in the downtown area and located both east and west of Broadway. Broadway itself will remain as is.

Specifically, the program – the name has been changed from “Tourism Parking” to “Seasonal Parking” - is looking to convert more than 1,300 on-street parking spaces to permit parking and 2-hour-free & permit parking spots, as well as taking the near-800 combined spots in the Walton, Putnam and Woodlawn city parking garages and converting them into 170 “permit” parking spaces, with the balance being set as “paid” spots. The City Center parking garage will remain as is.

Permit parking will be reserved for residents, business owners and their employees. Businesses will be able to register their employees for permits. Residents will be able to register for permits with proof of residency, and “guest passes” will also be made available for those visiting residents. Plans call for permits to be free to city residents and downtown business employees, accounting for an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 permits being issued.   

The plan includes pay stations and mobile pay options, but no traditional parking meters.

The city anticipates a projected first-season gross revenue of just over $2 million that would be offset by about $750,000 in costs; some of those costs would be first-year implementation expenses, so the city’s net income could conceivable be higher in future years.

The plan is tentatively slated to go into effect from May 1 to Sept. 30. Commissioner Golub stressed that the plan is fluid and community input is encouraged in advance of implementation.  

“This is an ongoing conversation. We want your input and we want to get this right before we roll it out,” Golub said.

There will be at least one public hearing – date TBA – before the City Council votes on the matter. The council will also be required to vote separately on the dollar amount of parking fees. Check next week’s edition of Saratoga TODAY for a deeper dive of the seasonal parking plan.        

SARATOGA SPRINGS - A city woman is dead and a 31- year-old Saratoga Springs man charged with murder, in connection with an alleged incident that occurred Feb. 6 at Vanderbilt Terrace.

The suspect, Sebastian P. Mabb, was known to the victim and had a prior relationship with her, according to police.

Mabb was charged with murder in the second-degree. He is accused of “intentionally (and) knowingly” causing the death of 25-year-old Brianna Craig, after engaging in a physical altercation with the victim, during the course of a domestic incident, according to court documents. The incident is believed to have occurred between 5 and 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6 at Vanderbilt Terrace on the city’s east side.  

An autopsy was conducted Feb. 9 and a preliminary report shows the cause of death to be by asphyxiation, police said, adding that the investigation is ongoing and evidence is still being collected. A final autopsy will be issued at the completion of the toxicology report.

Mabb is scheduled to appear in Saratoga Springs City Court March 5.

Wednesday, 07 February 2024 15:04

Mayor Safford Delivers State Of The City

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Mayor John Safford delivered the 2024 State of the City Address, the first of his term as mayor of Saratoga Springs, on Tuesday, Jan. 30. 

The mayor riffed on “harmony” as a theme moving forward. 

“As we envision the Saratoga of tomorrow, I ponder: What will our city look like in a decade? Not merely in its architectural facets, but in its character—the essence of our Saratogian identity. Who will we be? At the core of this reflection lies the notion of harmony,” Safford said. 

“Much like an orchestra or a chorus, we are diverse yet interwoven—individual notes coalescing into a harmonious symphony. In an era marked by division, the concept of harmony beckons us to bridge divides and foster unity. Here, today, in this room, we sow the seeds of a harmonious future—a future where our collective melody transcends discord.”

Safford spoke of both 2023 city accomplishments and 2024 stated goals, offering general remarks related to some overall council topics – “a comprehensive, long-term plan is imperative as we strive towards achieving net-zero homelessness” – and applying more specificity to Mayor’s Department goals.      

The Goals of the City Attorney’s Office are: Complete a review of all litigation pending against the city; See if we can find a way to reduce litigation frequency and expense; Help the various law firms employed by the City manage their cases and to keep the City Council informed; Streamline & expedite responses to FOIL requests to avoid legal fees being granted against the City.

In 2023, the city Building Department conducted 2,157 Inspections, and issued 460 Certificates of Occupancy including approximately 70 new dwelling units. The department also issued 871 permits - generating over $500,000 in building department fees, with an estimated construction value of approximately $185 million, the mayor said. 

2024 Building Department Goals: reduce permit wait time to the range of 4 – 6 weeks for the majority of permit applications, streamline the process for third party review of commercial building permit applications to facilitate reduced permit times; evaluate and modify the process for intake and review of simple permits so minor projects can be permitted more quickly. A full integration of scanned digital records and improvement of digitization for projects was also stated. 

2023 was the first full calendar year since the adoption of the City’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO). Approximately 64 Land Use Board meetings were held and a total of 1,044 project applications were submitted to the Design Review Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Planning Board. 

Mayor Safford specifically pointed to a handful of “notable” projects that had been recently approved, including a pair of housing developments that will provide approximately 232 affordable housing units, a large fitness center at Skidmore College, the redevelopment of Longfellow’s Hotel and Restaurant, Canadian pipe maker Soleno’s warehouse and corporate office expansion into the U.S., and three retail marijuana dispensaries.

In 2024, the Office of Planning and Economic Development will kick-off the Climate Action Plan which will guide the city in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, Safford said. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Zoning Board Of Appeals will host their next meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12, at Saratoga Springs City Hall. 

Among the new agenda items is an Area Variance extension sought by B&D Properties, Inc. to permit construction of a new mixed-use development at 126 West Ave. that would consist of four new townhouses, office space, and a studio apartment. 

Other new agenda items: 

190 Woodlawn/23 Greenfield:  Area variance to permit the construction of a new single-family residence.

28 Warren St.: Area variance to permit a renovation and addition to a single-family residence.

180 Fifth Ave.: Area variance to permit a two-car garage addition to the single-family residence.

131 Middle Ave Extension: Area variance extension to permit the construction of a new single-family home. 

29 Newton Ave.: Area variance to permit the construction of a new single-family home. 

11 Ritchie Pl.: Area variance to permit a two-lot subdivision. 

Thursday, 01 February 2024 14:44

From Camcorder to HBO Emmy

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Jack Quinn grew up on the city’s west side near Saratoga Hospital. The pages of his high school yearbook – Saratoga Springs Class of 2008 – unveil images of the young man’s smiling face alongside a list of pursuits of his teenage years: ski club and SPAC, fun, lacrosse and film club among them. 

“I was always the kid with the video camera,” he says. “It just grew from there.”

Three weeks ago, Quinn walked onto a Los Angeles stage and was presented with an award that recognized the achievements of the kid with the video camera from Saratoga Springs. 

“It was crazy,” says Quinn about attending the 75th Creative Arts Emmy Awards. “Just a wild night.” The images depict a smiling man cradling that most famous of statuettes depicting a winged woman holding an atom. “I watch the Emmys every year and it was a great opportunity to go.” 

Quinn and his team were nominated for and the eventual winners of the Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction Or Reality Series award based on their work with the HBO series “Succession” (Controlling The Narrative).  They faced competition from Saturday Night Live (Presents Behind The Sketch), and The White Lotus (Unpacking The Episode), among others. 

“The night we got to attend was geared toward unscripted shows - a lot of documentary series, a lot of Reality Shows, and our category fell into that because we were nominated for the Inside the Episode series, which is basically a mini-documentary,” Quinn says. The Creative Arts Emmys presentations are among a small handful of events held during the multiple nights of Emmy ceremonies.    

“Jeff Probst - the host of Survivor, was presenting that award. It was funny to see him onstage and to have him hand us the trophy,” Quinn says. “It was a whirlwind night.” 

Quinn was born in 1990 and spent his formative years in Saratoga Springs, leaving for four years to attend classes at SUNY Oswego – where he earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting in 2012 - and returned to Saratoga Springs for a handful of years before heading to Georgia, where he earned a Master of Arts - Film & Television Production, at Savannah College of Art & Design. 

“I was hired right out of school to work for Turner Broadcasting,” Quinn says. He joined HBO in the summer 2021, where he has worked with the shows “Room 104,” and “Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union,” “The Gilded Age,” and the current running series “True Detective: Night Country.” 

“When I started at HBO, season 2 of Succession was wrapping up. When season 3 came around, I told my boss: hey, I really love Succession and I would love to work as much as possible on this show. Thankfully I got the opportunity to do that,” Quinn says. 

“I work for HBO in the marketing department on the corporate side. Within my team we get assigned certain shows to handle the marketing campaign,” he explains.  “We do these little episodic promos - basically a trailer for the next episode. So, after the episode ends it’s: Next Week on Succession… and there are the little trailers we put together. Or, after the episode there will be an Inside the Episode featurette – an interview with the cast and crew, and that’s something my department does as well. That involves us interviewing everyone and putting together these little featurettes for every episode.”

You can find Quinn’s specific editing work on a number of “Succession” Inside The Episode broadcasts as well as in a variety of series trailers. The series, as described by the television network itself: “A bitingly funny drama series exploring themes of power and family through the eyes of an aging media mogul and his four grown children.”   

It is for “Succession: Controlling The Narrative,” that Quinn as producer secured the Creative Arts Emmy award. 

“When season 4 came along, I guess my boss trusted me a little more and we worked closely putting together the interviews – assisted in writing questions for every cast member and crew member who we would interview per episode, and actually worked on a cast interview,” Quinn says. “When it came time to work on the campaign in terms of editing everything together, I got the opportunity to do the most consequential episode featurettes - the Inside the episodes of the season and the series finale.”

How does he approach the work? “When I’m working on those Inside the episode pieces – you watch as many episodes as are available, and you read the scripts. You’re not looking at the finished product, but you’re trying to find as much subtext and drama and identify the most exciting and interesting moments and try to create questions that might give answers that people are interested in,” says Quinn. 

“I’m really glad to be working with HBO because I feel they have the best programming department in the business. They’re really good at picking projects and they give people a considerable budget to work with so I’m always excited to see what HBO gives us next to work with,” says Quinn, who these days calls Brooklyn home. 

It was during his time growing up in Saratoga Springs that Quinn says he came to the realization that the craft of editing - as opposed to shooting or anything else in the realm of videography - was a path he wanted to follow. 

“I grew up messing around with the family camcorder – we had this Sony Handycam that probably most families had at that point – and I just started messing with it, shooting videos with my friends, little skits. I figured out how to edit on my own,” Quinn says. “I got professional software and I had no idea what to do, but eventually I just sort of figured it out.” 

What’s up next? “Right now, I’m wrapping up some work on the series True Detective – which just started a few weeks ago – and the next thing is a show called The Regime, which was given to our team to handle because some of the same people from Succession are producing and writing it, so it’s a good fit.

“I was always the kid with the video camera and luckily, I now have a career in the same field.” 

SARATOGA COUNTY — There are $18.4 billion in unclaimed funds turned over to the Office of the State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli – and more than 82,000 Saratoga County residents and businesses currently account for more than $34 million in total value of those unclaimed funds.

The state has posted a “Search For Lost Money” page on its website that allows individuals or organizations to search for lost money that is rightfully theirs. Every day New York State returns $1.5 million to those who file claims through the webpage. 

Where the money comes from: Banks, insurance companies, corporations and the courts are among the many organizations required by law to report dormant accounts to the State Comptroller. These organizations must attempt to notify people by mail and publish the information in newspapers. Despite efforts, many funds remain unclaimed and are turned over to the Office of the State Comptroller.

To plug your name, or business name into the search form, go to: www.osc.ny.gov/unclaimed-funds. 

Thursday, 01 February 2024 14:16

Train Depot Razed in Schuylerville

SCHUYLERVILLE —A train depot which stood for nearly 150 years in the historic village of Schuylerville was demolished this week. 

Located on state Route 29, the Boston & Maine depot was constructed in the late 1800s. By the mid-20th century, as the Saratoga and Schuylerville Railroad, it served as a connecting point between the city of Saratoga Springs to the village of Schuylerville eight miles away. A roundtrip ticket on the S&S Railroad – which visited Saratoga Springs, Schuylerville and Mechanicville cost $2 when purchased in advance, $2.50 if riders waited to purchase the ticket while aboard the train. 

The depot ceased to operate as a rail station in the 1950s, and the structure converted into a 2,033 square foot residence with three bedrooms and one bathroom on a 0.41 acre lot, according to a Redfin realty listing. It is not known when the building - located adjacent to a Schuylerville Central School District practice field - was last inhabited. 

The Schuylerville CSD purchased the land in 2022. Voters approved the land purchase proposition in May 2022 by a 400 to 87 vote, authorizing the school district to acquire the property at a cost of approximately $200,000. The initial plan was to explore options for creating easier access from the main road to the school campus. 

“Anytime the district can purchase land that is adjacent to school property is a great opportunity,” said then-Schuylerville School Superintendent Ryan Sherman, in the months leading up to the vote. “The land purchase will allow the district to work with architects and the Department of Transportation to research a possible second outlet to reroute campus traffic and allow a better traffic flow in the future.”

A second outlet road may still happen in the future, but there are no specific plans to do so currently, said Gregg Barthelmas, who was appointed Schuylerville CSD Superintendent in 2022. 

“We want to get through the (current) budget process and then we’ll revisit the conversation and try to determine the best use for it moving forward,” Barthelmas said this week.  “We may revisit it in the summertime to come up with an educated decision on what we want to do.” The NYS Department of Transportation will be involved in the process, he added. 

The building was condemned and taken down at this time for safety reasons, Barthelmas said. The Jersen Construction Group of Waterford was hired for the demolition work.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The State of the City address will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30, in the Saratoga City Music Hall, located on the third floor of City Hall.

The SOTC address will also be available via live stream on the City of Saratoga Springs website at: saratoga-springs.org. 

The City Council has announced its meeting schedule for the 2024 calendar year. 

Pre-agenda meetings are typically held at City Hall 9:30 a.m. on the first and third Monday each month, with regular meetings held one day later – at 7 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month, with the following exceptions: Pre-agenda meeting variations are Friday, Feb. 16 in lieu of Presidents’ Day (Feb. 19), and Friday, Aug. 30 in lieu of Labor Day (Sept. 2). General meeting variation – Wednesday, Nov. 6 in lieu of Election Day (Nov. 5). 

All Pre-Agenda meetings will take place in the Council Meeting Room – located on the first floor in City Hall. 

Regular City Council meeting locations will be held either in Council Meeting Room, or in the larger capacity Music Hall, located on the third floor of City Hall, and will be announced in advance of each meeting.   

Page 7 of 105

Blotter

  • Saratoga County Court  Sara N. Babinski, 35, of Schuylerville, was sentenced to 3 months incarceration/ 5 years probation, after pleading to felony DWAI, charged January 2024 in Saratoga Springs.  Thomas R. McCall, 35, of Rensselaer, pleaded to criminal possession of a weapon in the second-degree, in connection with a March 2024 incident in Saratoga Springs, when city police initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle on South Broadway and located a Magnum .357 revolver with ammunition underneath the driver’s seat, according to a statement by Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen. Further investigation determined that the firearm belonged to the defendant,…

Property Transactions

  •   BALLSTON  Frederick Wright sold property at 78 Beacon St to Jacqueline Zielinski for $361,000 Barbera Homes Kelley Farms sold property at 30 Paddock Pl to Erik Weiskopf for $716,959 Harold Tomlinson sold property at 429 Devils Lane to Amy Hotaling for $575,000 CORINTH Khalil Grant sold property at 5049 Rt 9N to Colin Murray for $239,500 Angela Wingle sold property at 83 Clothier Dr to Brittany Dunston for $249,900 Foothills Builders sold property at 49 Black Bear Path to Zachary Yetter for $455,605 Gwendoyln Matson sold property at 116 County Route 10 to Victoria Bourque for $169,000 MALTA  David…
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