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A small parcel of land which sits at a key intersection on South Broadway may soon belong to the city. The property, which once sited a gas station, sits at 209 South Broadway - adjacent to a Dunkin’ Donuts shop - and has been vacant for a decade.
The city first considered using open space funds to purchase the 0.2-acre parcel in 2008 and subsequently develop a pocket park that would feature equine sculptures. Earlier this year, in her State of The City address, city Mayor Joanne Yepsen reported that the Open Space Committee was still actively working to acquire the parcel.
A Memorandum of Understanding issued last week noted that the property owner, David Eshaghian - doing business as the Crown Oil Co. – desired to gift the parcel to the city.
“He spent a lot of time in the city when he was a kid,” Mayor Joanne Yepsen reported. “This will be a nice new gateway to the southern portion of the city.”
The one condition attached to the gift by the owner is that a memorial plaque be placed at the site in honor of his mother. A recent appraisal set the value of the parcel at $340,000. It has not yet been decided how the city may use the parcel in the future, but an open space area such as a pocket park or small pavilion seems most likely.
The City Council unanimously voted Tuesday night to enter into a memorandum of understanding – an intention to enter into a contract. Because there had been a gas station on site for decades, the premises will first be inspected prior to the council voting on whether to accept the gift.
Madigan: City 2016 FY Year Ends in A Strong Position
Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan reported Saratoga Springs closed the 2016 fiscal year in a strong financial position.
Unaudited year-end figures reveal a moderate annual operating deficit of $1.056 million - in large part driven by a $750,000 payment to settle a suit filed by The Anderson Group more than 10 years ago, Madigan said. The unaudited operating deficit, excluding this payment, was $306,000, or 0.695 percent of the $44 million 2016 Adopted Budget.
Actual 2016 revenue collected totaled $42,691,435. Actual 2016 expenditures totaled $43,747,818.
“The City Departments did a good job managing their 2016 budgets and I hope to see similar results for 2017,” the commissioner said, in a statement.
Unaudited figures indicate the city’s unassigned, unappropriated general fund balance is $9,009,362. The city has 3.3M in restricted (assigned) fund balance in the form of a retirement reserve, insurance reserve, capital reserves, tax stabilization reserve, and other miscellaneous reserves.
The Water Fund ended 2016 with a positive assigned unappropriated fund balance of $2.9 million - the fifth consecutive year the water fund reported an operating surplus. The Sewer Fund has an assigned unappropriated fund balance for 2016 of 1.8M. This is the seventh consecutive year that the sewer fund reported an operating surplus, Madigan said.
Vandalized Statues Restored and Returned to Congress Park
The “Day” and “Night” Urns and “Pan” statue in the Italian Gardens have been restored and were installed in Congress Park last Friday, said Department of Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco. The urns and statue were vandalized last year.
The Day and Night Urns - inspired by the individual marble reliefs “Day” and “Night” by artist Bertel Thorvaldsen - were originally placed in Congress Park more than a century ago. Improvements were made in the urn bases to increase stability for the cast-iron pieces, along with new drainage to prevent long-term water damage. Additional stability was added to the base of the Pan statue to prevent any future vandalism, Scirocco said.
How To Grieve Your Assessment
Finance Commissioner John Franck announced a "How to Grieve your Assessment” class will be held 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday May 9 in the City Council Room.
Residents wishing to grieve their assessment must submit an application with documentation to the Assessment Office prior to Grievance Day, which is Tuesday, May 23. For more information, and to download a Grievance Packet, go to: http://www.saratoga-springs.org/DocumentCenter/View/4213.
Preservation Foundation Honored for 40 years of Preserving Historic City Sights
City Mayor Joanne Yepsen presented a proclamation on behalf of the city to honor the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation and recognize the organization’s 40 years of preserving the architectural, cultural and landscaped heritage of Saratoga Springs.
“Had it not been for their efforts over the years, many of the historic sights and places we take for granted today would be known to us only through old photographs and memories,” Yepsen said. “In preserving our past, they have also preserved our identity. Their work is an indispensable part of what makes Saratoga Springs one of our country’s best known and loved places.”
Bike to Work Day May 19
The Capital Region “Bike to Work Challenge” will take place in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady Counties on Friday, May 19. Trophies will be awarded in each county to both small (20 or less employees) and large organizations with the largest number of riders, and to the person who rides the longest distance.
The Municipal Challenge will award a trophy for the highest percent participation for any municipality in the region, in which the mayor or supervisor rode to work.
Bike to School Day will take place May 10 and, by county, the school with the most participating students will be awarded a trophy. For more information or to register, go to https://capitalmoves.org/b2w518/
The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 8 at City Hall.
The Planning Board will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 11 at City Hall.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Classic builds and vibrant colors returned to Saratoga Springs High School (SSHS) this past weekend for the third annual Saratoga Classic Car Show, held on April 30.
Hosted by former SSHS business teacher and classic car enthusiast John Grady, each year the show raises money for the SSHS scholarship fund. The fund provides graduating seniors with $15,000-$20,000 each year. According to Grady, the show raised $750 for the fund in its first year, and $1,000 in the second. Some of the cars at this year’s show included a 1976 Corvette Stingray belonging to Ron Delaney, a 1970 Volkswagen Baja Beetle belonging to Wendy Davis, a 1948 Austin A40 Devon belonging to Dave Insognia, and many others.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
WILTON – The Springettes – one of the Saratoga Springs area’s premier girls gymnastics teams – continued to do their namesake hometown proud with an impressive showing at a recent state competition.
The Saratoga Regional YMCA Gymnastics Team, also known as “The Springettes,” attended the New York State YMCA Gymnastics Championships at SUNY Oneonta from April 22-23. At the meet, there were nine YMCA gymnastics teams from across NY competing, which amounted to just over 200 athletes. In all, 30 gymnasts from Saratoga Springs competed, taking part in the vault, bars, beam, and floor events.
The Springettes left SUNY Oneonta with an impressive eight all-around state champions, including Marissa Verro from Level 9, Abby Moller from Level 8, Jordan Toma and Katy Hawthorne from Level 7, Brynne Wright from Level 6, Rya Torres and Megan Wishart from Level 5, and Marianna Nasta from Level 4. In individual events, the team put up 29 first-place finishes.
“They did really well,” Kim Hewitt, director of gymnastics for the Saratoga Regional YMCA, said. “They held up against some tough competition.
In team competition, the Springettes entered four teams. The Level 7 and Level 5 teams placed first, the Level 4 team placed second, and the Level 3 team placed fourth.
“My Level 7 team has done a really good job this year,” Hewitt said. “They’ve been consistently placing very, very high, and they had a great day.”
The highest all-around score for the whole team was Abby Moller, Level 8, with a combined score of 35.8, followed by Katy Hawthorne, Level 7, with a score of 35.45. Another notable performance at the meet came from Marianna Nasta, Level 4, who claimed first place in all four individual events.
Going into the event, Hewitt had her athletes focused on repetition of their routines, making sure that they would be able to consistently get things right. Moving forward, the team will be competing at the Northeast Regionals from May 13-15. The focus on repetition remains the staple of their practices leading up to it. This year, regionals will take place in Waterville, ME. Around 40 teams from the northeast states will be competing, amounting to around 1,200 gymnasts.
“We’re really excited,” Hewitt said about going to regionals. “Our Level 5 and Level 7 teams are really strong, so we’re hoping to place in the all-around. It’s a little harder with 40 teams, but we’re hoping for those teams to do really well.”
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – It was a new beginning for little league baseball in Saratoga Springs last weekend.
Saratoga Wilton Youth Baseball, a new organization formed from a merger of Saratoga American Little League and Wilton Youth Baseball, held its inaugural Opening Day on April 29 at Gavin Park with an event that was as much a party as it was a little league meet. The day began at 8:30 a.m. with an “MLB Pitch, Hit, and Run” event on the softball field, which repeated at 12:30 a.m. From there, the young players in attendance gathered for a “player parade” at 11:00 a.m. Following a barbeque lunch courtesy of The 99 Restaurant, games finally began at 1:00 p.m. The league currently has over 500 players, ages 4-16, registered to play.
This merger leaves Saratoga Springs with two little leagues: Saratoga Wilton Youth Baseball, and Saratoga Little League, formerly known as Saratoga National Little League. Saratoga Wilton will play its games at both Gavin Park in Wilton and East Side Recreation on Lake Avenue in Saratoga Springs.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A strong season is continuing apace for the dominant Saratoga Springs High School varsity girls lacrosse team.
In a league game against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake on their home turf on April 22, the Blue Streaks dominated the visiting team from start to finish, ending the game with a strong 16-6 victory. The team made good on their intentions to dominate the game from the beginning, putting up the first point of the game, and by halftime, they had massive 10-1 lead. This win puts the team 5-0 in league games, with their only loss coming at the hands and sticks of Niskayuna in a non-league game. Coming up soon will be big games against formidable teams, including Shenendahowa, Shaker, and Bethlehem.
“We have really excellent momentum,” Coach Elaine Lotruglio said. “We’ve had one loss, and it was close. I think we’re in a real good place [going forward].”
Lotruglio was impressed by the rhythm of the game, noting that the younger team was really coming into its own. Compared to previous years’ teams, this team skews much more towards the lower grade levels, with five freshmen and four sophomore players. Lotruglio guesses that by the time these young players make it to their senior year, their familiarity with one another will make them a force to contend with.
“They love to be together,” Lotruglio said about the team’s chemistry. “They pass well, and they’re learning each other’s moves, so to speak.”
A strong practice routine is also helping the team put up impressive numbers, in particular their warm-ups developed by the players themselves alongside assistant coach Elise Britt, a personal trainer and Maple Avenue Middle School health teacher. Lotruglio also noted how the team pulls certain shortcomings from each game they play so that they can work towards fixing them in future practice sessions.
Alongside the younger players, this season’s team has four senior players, Olivia Oskin, Cameron Parry, Emily Fischer, and Francesca Mangino, the latter three of which have signed their letters of intent to play inter-collegiate lacrosse in the fall. Lotruglio also highlighted the skills of sophomore Lindsey Frank, junior Ellen Payer, and junior Katie Wendell.
“They all just have a lot of fun together,” Lotruglio said.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – It was a situation that would be tense for any baseball team in any game: tied with the rival team, 4-4, in the bottom of the seventh inning. This was the situation that the Saratoga Springs High School varsity baseball team found itself in on April 14, when it faced rivals Shenendahowa in a non-league game at Shuttleworth Park. This was not just any old non-league game, however: to give some extra heft to the game required under new Suburban Council guidelines, the two teams came together to create the I-87 Cup, which will fought over each year by both teams in a non-league game.
Enter junior Brian Hart, who with just the right swing of the bat hit a homerun, cinching the Blue Streaks’ victory and making them the inaugural holders of the new title.
“It was a great feeling, just running around the bases,” Hart said. “Seeing everyone at home plate, all excited, and I was excited, just to touch the plate and celebrate with my team… Yeah, they were all excited for me, and it was a special moment for us.”
“I kinda said to him in the on-deck circle, it’d be nice if you hit one over that wall, kinda jokingly,” Coach Andy Cuthbertson said. “And, you know, sure enough, he did that.”
Hart has been playing baseball for Saratoga since little league, or, “most” of his life, as he said. Going forward in the season, he believes that the Blue Streaks can go on to win a sectional championship.
“We’re looking to make a long run,” Hart said.
“The one thing about Brian, even when he was a 10th grader last year, he is very composed,” Cuthbertson said. “He doesn’t get very worked up, and that’s quite an attribute to have as a 10th grader, and now as a junior, sometimes I almost think in my mind that he is a senior, and I have remember that, wow, I have him for one more year. What a nice treat for our program.”
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A director discusses the specifics of scene D-14 with his actors and crew, stressing that 5-6 shots will be needed. Meanwhile, a short ways away on the set, other actors patiently wait on their marks, going over their lines and directions for the upcoming shots. All the while, the cast and crew eagerly await the completion of the last few shots so that can finally take their lunch break for the day.
But this film set is not in Hollywood, or somewhere else far off. It’s right here at the Saratoga Springs Public Library (SSPL). And that cast and crew is not made up entirely of film industry professional. Rather, it is composed of local students, learning about film production for a good cause.
Filmmaker Mike Feurstein returned to the Saratoga Springs area for a five-day film residency as part of the Don’t Wait to UnMake a Bully program, a partnership between his How to UnMake a Bully program and Lisa Bradshaw’s Don’t Wait Project. Through the program, Feurstein works with students in districts nationwide, using roles on a film set to teach them about treating others with respect and how to avoid being a bully. After the in-class lessons, students take what they learn and use their new skills to help produce an anti-bullying PSA. This most recent residency ran from April 17-20, with filming at the library taking place in the last three days.
“We meet the classes for the first time on a Monday and talk about bullying, kindness, citizenship, digital citizenship, cyber security, and things like that for the first 45 minutes,” Feurstein said. “The second 45 minutes is learning how to make a movie, and we learn all the roles, and I tie the roles into civic responsibility. So the sound guy is a good listener, and the director is a good leader as well as a good listener. So we tie in the jobs of a movie set to how you should e behaving in a civilized society.”
This is Feurstein’s second time working with students on a project in the SSPL, having worked there for the first time two years ago. This year, he is working with students mostly from the Saratoga Springs City School District, as well a few from South Glens Falls and Burnt Hills. The short film that they came up with has an appropriately library-inspired theme, with villainous characters coming out of various books and possessing the bodies a various children, causing them to act like bully.
“The Queen of Hearts is acting all boisterous and bossy,” Feurstein said. “And the Wizard of Oz is acting boastful”
According to Youth Services librarian Kali Nagler, the film will premiere to the families of the students and the public in a special screening on June 15, and in the fall, they will feature the film as part of a planned anti-bullying awareness day alongside the first film produced in 2015. The film will also be shared on Feurstein’s YouTube channel, “Unmaker Mike.”
“I think a lot of them are learning that making a movie is hard work,” Feurstein said. “And it’s collaborative, they have to work together, they have to listen.”
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
SCHUYLERVILLE - The Hudson River village that played a vital role in the turning point of the American Revolution can add “The Demon of Screamin’” to its feathered cap of historical significance.
Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler and daughter Liv Tyler - an actress perhaps best known for her role in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy - visited the adjoined Saratoga villages of Schuylerville and Victory in January after learning of their 19th century ancestral ties to the community.
Those local connections came to light in an episode of the TV series “Who Do You Think You Are?” which premiered on the TLC channel this week.
Steven Tyler’s great-great-grandfather, George Washington Elliott, was a drummer who was present at the battle of Antietam and at Gettysburg. He set down roots in Saratoga County while in his 20s, shortly after the Civil War.
“I can see my dad in his face,” Liv Tyler told Saratoga County Historian Lauren Roberts, after being shown a photograph in a 1912 brochure during a segment that depicted “Mr. and Mrs. George Elliott and family, Schuylerville, N.Y.” with their 17 children.
Liv Tyler, the daughter of Steven Tyler and Nashville based singer, songwriter and pop culture icon Bebe Buell, was filmed while driving around Saratoga and visiting the office of the Saratoga County Clerk in Ballston Spa. She was joined by her dad at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Victory, where in the shadow of the a 155-foot tall Saratoga Monument, they visited the burial sites of their ancestors.
“I thought it was a fun show and great piece of history about her family,” said the Saratoga Town Historian Sean Kelleher. “When you start doing these family searches, you just never know what you’re going to find.”
It is not known what prompted the relocation to the Schuylerville area of George Elliott, who had African-America roots. In the 19th century, the greater Schuylerville area counted two Abolitionist Societies who lobbied politicians, published abolitionist papers, and invited speakers into their communities - Frederick Douglass among them, according to Village of Schuylerville Historian Kristina Saddlemire.
In the village by the latter part of the 19th century, local kids found their winter recreation ice skating on the frozen canal. They attended classes at Schuylerville’s Union Free School, a four-story building that stood on Green and University Streets, and played host to a visiting music teacher from Northumberland who would arrive by pony and provide piano lessons for the entire family.
Research conducted independently of the show points to at least one member of the Elliott family being employed at the historic textile mill building in Victory, Kelleher said.
The family were members of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Schuylerville. Of George and Eliza’s 17 kids, 15 were born in Au Sable Forks.
“Two of the children - Jennie May, and Arthur - were born in Schuylerville,” said Don Papson, co-founder and curator of the North Star Underground Railroad Museum, in Ausable Chasm, N.Y.
Jennie May Elliott was born in 1889, and Arthur Earnest Elliott two years later. According to a 1976 obituary, Arthur was a groundskeeper who had been employed By Skidmore College and lived in Saratoga Springs for many years. Jennie May’s descendant, Mary Briscoe, currently lives in Watervliet. She recalled meeting many of her relatives as a young girl growing up in Victory, where she lived until the age of six, before relocating during the 1940s. Watching the TV episode, Briscoe said she was able to learn more about her own ancestors, particularly those who lived during the Civil War Era and beyond.
Steven Tyler’s mother, and Liv Tyler’s grandmother, Susan Ray Tallarico – whose maiden name was Blancha - was the daughter of Bessie June Blancha (Elliott), who in turn was the daughter of Robert J. Elliott and Edna Wheeler. Robert J. Elliott was one of the sons of George and Eliza Elliot, the first members of the family to settle in Saratoga. Their connection to Schuylerville and Victory seems to have lasted at least until the early part of the 20th century.
“Robert J. Elliott married Edna Wheeler. She was the daughter of Charles E. Wheeler, who as much as I can figure out was a photographer in the village,” Papson said. Advertisements published in local newspapers in the early 1900s take note of photographer C.E. Wheeler’s a shop located on Broadway in Schuylerville.
The historians best pin-pointed the family home as having sat on Pearl Street in the village of Victory and just around the corner from St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on nearby Grove Street in Schuylerville.
Who: Marianne Barker.
Where: Impressions of Saratoga, Broadway.
Q. When did you first come to Saratoga Springs.
A. 1980. From Long Island.
Q. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the city in that time?
A. It’s gotten so much busier.
Q. What’s the biggest challenge the city faces in the future?
A. Managing the growth and maintaining the character of downtown, its independent nature. The growth is great, it’s a sign of progress, but it also changes the dynamic. So, maintaining a balance.
Q. What are you doing today?
A. Placing orders, looking for summer staff.
Q. What did you want to be when you were a kid?
A. A veterinarian. I was going to be a large animal vet. I was on my way to do that when I met Dave, my husband. He started a screen printing company and I said: well I’ll help him for a couple of years then go back to school. I deferred my acceptance to Cornell, and here I am, without a single regret. I love this.
Q. Do you have animals?
A. I’ve always had dogs, kitties, horses on and off. We have a mini-horse here, he’s a mascot for the store. His name is Upset, named for the horse that beat Man o’War.
Q. What brush have you had with fame?
A. I was lucky enough three years ago to be invited by Congressman Tonko to go to the State of The Union address. So, I did that. There was President Obama, and Michelle Obama was sitting with one of the guys from “Duck Dynasty.” That was pretty cool. Just sitting in this crowd of people and thinking of all the historical things that happened in that room was amazing. I still get chills thinking about it.
Q. What’s the best concert you attended?
A. Garth Brooks. It was a fantastic show, country music fan or not. And Tina Turner has to take the cake at SPAC. That’s my favorite.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A crowd of cheering friends and families filled the bleachers in the Saratoga Springs High School’s blue gym as 14 young athletes embraced their futures.
In a special ceremony held on April 12, the Saratoga Springs City School District honored 14 senior athletes as they signed their letters of intent to play inter-collegiate athletics at the universities of their choice in the fall. Athletic director Peter Sheehan addressed the attended crowd – which included other student athletes allowed to attend before their various practices and meets by their coaches – before the actual signings, thanking them for their attendance and congratulating the athletes on their achievements.
“We are so very proud of each and every one of you, and of the time and effort you’ve put in to make this day possible,” Sheehan said.
The athletes honored at the ceremony were, in the order they were seated at the table from left to right: Sarah Winters, who will play field hockey at Skidmore College; Francesca Mangino, who will play lacrosse at SUNY Brockport; Cameron Parry, who will play lacrosse at Quinnipiac University; Emily Fischer, who will play lacrosse at Clarkson University; Tucker Pierce, who will play lacrosse at Westminster College; Elizabeth Maguire, who will play soccer at Le Moyne College; Gabe Olsen, who will play soccer at Mount Ida College; Daniel Varsames, who will play soccer at Utica College; Michael Moran, who will also play soccer at Utica College; Autumn Boxley, who will swim at George Mason University; Victoria Breslin, who will swim at Le Moyne College; Morgan Hoffman-Smith, who will swim at Ithaca College; Nick Cavotta, who will run track and field at Winthrop University; and Mary “Mimi” Liebers, who will run track & field at the College of the Holy Cross. Griffin Taylor, who will play lacrosse at SUNY Oneonta, was not present at the ceremony due to attending a meet at his soon-to-be school, but he was mentioned by Sheehan and was present on the list of athletes at the ceremony.
“I just loved the campus as soon as I stepped on campus,” Parry said about her choice of Quinnipiac. “I knew that that was the place for me. The coaching staff was just really welcoming, and all the girls on the team were super welcoming, and I just really got a good feel for the team and for the… kind of program that I’d be going to.”
“I’m very excited,” Liebers said about attending Holy Cross in the fall. “I’ve always known I wanted to do college sports, and track has been my main sport for five years now. So getting to continue track in college is a dream come true… I wanted a D-1 program, but I particularly liked the Patriot League. And I just loved the school, and I knew I needed to see myself at the school without track, so it all just fell into place.”
“I was looking at schools in the south, and I found Winthrop, it has my major in business and a minor in sports marketing, which is just awesome for me,” Cavotta said about his choice of Winthrop. “It’s a beautiful school. It’s down south, lot of warm weather. Not a huge school, which I like, so I can get some more individual time with my professors. It just has everything I could look for in a college.”
“Super proud,” Cavotta’s mother said about her son’s achievement. “I like the school. Like he said, it’s a nice small school, homey, they focus on academics and education, and parent involvement.”
Notably, two of the athletes at the ceremony, Varsames and Moran, will be playing the same sport, soccer, at Utica. This is fitting, as they have been close friends for years.
“That’ll help a lot,” Varsames said about attending school with someone he is so familiar with. “We both know how each other plays. It’ll help team chemistry, obviously. We’re best friends, so it’ll be fun… [We’ve been playing together since we were] probably like around 10, 12 maybe.”
“I think we have an outstanding group of coaches, we have very supportive parents who allow our student athletes to have opportunities, both in-school and out-of-school, that kinda give them a chance to compete at the collegiate level,” Sheehan said about the SSCSD athletics program. “I think that’s important to have that year-round commitment and to have those year-round opportunities.”
All photos by Thomas Kika.