Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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WILTON — A proposal initiated last year that would see the development of nearly 400 apartments and townhouses alongside the Wilton Mall continues on its path forward. 

The parties behind the development proposal recently launched the website “Reimagine Wilton Mall” that points to a detailed timeline of upcoming public meetings with local and regional officials for the purpose of seeking approval for the project.     

The project, proposed by the Macerich Corporation and Paramount Development, includes 382 new “luxury, market-rate rental residences,” including both apartments and townhomes, and will feature “premium resident amenities with a sophisticated design,” according to the companies. 

“What we see in the Wilton Mall is something that’s got some momentum. We do really well around retail,” Tom Snell, a partner with Paramount Development, told Wilton town officials during a public meeting earlier this year, when Paramount announced its plans to purchase two lots totaling just over 13-1/2 acres on the northeasterly side of the mall for the $100 million-plus project. 

Santa Monica, California-based company Macerich has owned and operated the mall land since 2004. They own about 95 acres in all; JC Penney – owns just over two acres, and LBW Saratoga – occupied by BJ’s, owns just under four acres. 

Paramount Development, based in Florida, has developed 200 rental apartment communities in dozens of states. 

The potential project, which would be developed in two phases, would occur on the northeast side of the mall past Dick’s Sporting Goods, and see the removal of the former BonTon location, which closed in 2018. That was followed by the closure of Sears two years later. 

At its peak in 2016, the mall generated about $95 million in sales. Figures provided by Wilton Mall Property Manager Mike Schafer earlier this year showed those figures were down to $55 million. “That’s about a $44 million sales tax loss with the retailers that we’ve lost,” Schafer said. “The sales in the mall dropped in half.” The addition of hundreds of residents to a new space is being viewed as a catalyst for growth, he added.   

An application for establishing a Planned Unit Development District (PUDD) at the Wilton Mall to allow the development of 382 luxury rental residences was forwarded for review to the Town of Wilton Planning Board. Upcoming meetings to discuss the project are anticipated to take place at the Wilton Planning Board meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 19, the Saratoga County Planning Board on Oct. 20, and at the Wilton Town Board meeting at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. All meetings are open to the public.     

Thursday, 06 October 2022 13:24

Temple Sinai Community Places A Time Capsule

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Members of the Temple Sinai community were joined by religious school students and their families Oct. 2 to seal and place a time capsule on the synagogue grounds on Broadway. 

According to the Hebrew lunar calendar, every 7 years is known as a shmita, or sabbatical year. The cycle of Jewish time points to this year as a shmita year, a year of “release”
and regeneration.

The cycle of shmita invites all to reflect, contemplate, and recharge every seven years, said Sylvia Bloom, the director of education for the Temple Sinai religious school.

“In addition to all the challenges of COVID and this year’s hopeful emergence from its shadow, our Rabbis of 36 years will be retiring in December. It’s a good moment to take stock of who and where we are, and where we’d like to head as a community,” said Bloom. Rabbis Jonathan Rubenstein and Linda Motzkin are retiring this year.

More than one dozen objects that represent something important from the past year, or something individuals wish to release, were prepared for the capsule. The goal is to capture this moment in time.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — An application proposing a multi-family residential project that would site four apartment buildings with more than 300 units in addition to nearly 50 new townhouses at Route 29 and Station Lane is under consideration by the city Planning Board this week. 

Proposed Action: 

Construction of multi-family apartments and townhouse dwelling units on 17 acres, located between State Route 29, and Station Lane. Proposed by: Prime Companies. 

Specifics: Apartments - Four multi-family apartment buildings having a total of 338 units. Buildings would stand four stories tall with garage parking below each building. 184 one-bedroom units, 104 two-bedroom units, and 50 three-bedroom units.  A recreation space for tenants only would include a swimming pool, outdoor putting green, outdoor pavilion and other amenities. 

Townhouses -constructed in pods of 6 units over 8 pad sites, a total of 48 units. Townhouses would stand two-to-three stories high, garages located at the rear. 

Additional applications under consideration include Site plan review of a proposed workforce housing project at Excelsior Avenue (Excelsior Avenue Apartments), a sketch plan review of a proposed five-lot conservation subdivision at 274 Kaydeross Avenue East, and sketch plan review of a proposed reconfiguration of a subdivision resulting in 16 new residential lots at Bemis Heights Road. 

The Saratoga Springs Planning Board typically meets twice every month at City Hall. For meeting times and dates, go to: saratoga-springs.org. 

  

BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors represents all 19 towns and both cities in Saratoga County and oversees a $381 million budget. 

The board meets monthly. Notes from the board’s last meeting on Sept. 22. 

A memorandum of agreement was authorized with the city of Saratoga Springs for the construction of a storage bay to house the Saratoga County Hazardous Materials Fire Truck. According to the MOA, the city will receive $300,000 - $30,000 per year for 10 years - to offset the cost of the construction of the new Fire Station #3 on Henning Road to include a storage bay to house the county HazMat truck.

The Board of Supervisors accepted $56,377.69 in funding from the New York State Board of Elections for the reimbursement of expenses related to the expansion of early voting. The New York State Legislature recently enacted amendments to Election Law that requires county election boards to provide postage-paid return envelopes for absentee ballot applications and ballots, and appropriated grant funds to be distributed by the BOE to county boards to defray the additional expense of this expansion of early voting. 

The county approved using $100,000 in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to design and build a veterans’ hall / county government building at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds. 

The county Board authorized the acceptance of a $1.4 million grant from the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. The grant is to be used for improving the interoperability and operability of emergency communications systems for a 24-month performance period, from Jan. 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2024, and breaks down to just over $900,000 for Communications Equipment, and $500,000 for Equipment Maintenance.

The Board adopted a resolution proclaiming October as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” in Saratoga County. Each year, more than 10 million adults experience domestic violence, and nationwide domestic violence hotlines receive more than 19,000 calls on a typical day, according to the resolution. During the Covid-19 pandemic calls increased nearly 45% to the New York State Hotline.

Authorized Agreements: 

$23.6 million with Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan, Inc. (CDPHP) for the provision of medical and prescription health care insurance and administrative services for County employees from Jan. 1, 2023 through Dec. 31, 2023.

$3.8 million with MVP Health Plan, Inc. for the provision of medical and prescription drug health care insurance for Medicare eligible retirees from County employment under MVP’s Medicare Advantage Plan for the term Jan. 1, 2023 through Dec. 31, 2023.

$925,000 with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Inc. (MetLife) for the provision of dental health care insurance for County employees and the offering of voluntary dental health care insurance plans to County retirees for the term Jan. 1, 2023 through Dec. 31, 2023. 

Thursday, 29 September 2022 14:38

New Managing Members for Northshire Bookstore

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Northshire Bookstore has announced that Cathleen Ihasz, Nicole Ihasz and Ashley Ihasz-Austin have acquired a majority interest in and will be the new managing members of the Northshire Bookstore. 

The Ihasz sisters assumed stewardship and operational control of the Northshire retail locations in Manchester, Vermont and Saratoga Springs, as well as the northshire.com online e-commerce business earlier this week.

Ed and Barbara Morrow started the original Northshire store in Vermont in September 1976, and with their son Chris Morrow opened the doors to the Northshire Bookstore Saratoga store on Broadway in August 2013. 

The Morrows passed ownership to Clark and Lu French of Manchester, Vermont in May 2021. However, with the recent passing of wife Lu French, Clark French announced he would be stepping back from his roles at the Northshire to focus on family. French will remain a stakeholder in the bookstore, serving as a trusted advisor and supporter through the transition. 

The Ihasz family has been part of the southern Vermont community for decades and continue to maintain their family residence in Danby, according to a statement issued by Northshire. Their goal is to preserve Northshire’s iconic legacy for future generations, according to a statement from the bookstore. For more information, go to: northshire.com.    

SARATOGA COUNTY — Gov. Kathy Hochul announced nine upstate airports – Saratoga and Albany among them, have been awarded $230 million for revitalization projects to “reimagine and further modernize airports across upstate New York.”

“Great to be back. The last time I was officially here was for an ice storm in April, so this is much better,” Gov. Hochul said, announcing the grants during a Sept. 14 presser at Greater Binghamton Airport. 

“Our upstate airports are our gateways to local economies and make lasting impressions, connecting New Yorkers and tourists to the beautiful destinations that the Empire State has to offer.” 

Saratoga County Airport was awarded $27 million for the construction of a new, state-of-the-art, energy-efficient terminal building.

The new building’s first floor will provide two spacious passenger waiting areas, a multi-media conference room, and a café and ice cream counter that will open onto a courtyard with outdoor access. The lobby area will feature a display area for automobiles from the Saratoga Automobile Museum, while the second floor of the building will provide space for pilots as well as a restaurant area and an exhibit area for local artists. 

The hangar portion of the building will be finished with aged, reclaimed wood to mirror the look of the many Saratoga County horse and agricultural barns, while a solar array on top of the hangar roof will help reduce the airport’s collective carbon footprint.

The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors meanwhile have hosted a series of on-again, off-again discussions and public hearings dating back to last year regarding a proposed lease at the Saratoga County Airport with Prime Group Holdings, LLC for the construction, maintenance and use of an airplane hangar on county land. It is not currently known how the governor’s new announcement of funding may affect that previous proposal.   

The funding comes from the Upstate Airport Economic Development and Revitalization Competition, a competitive solicitation which aims to promote, revitalize and accelerate investments in upstate commercial passenger service airports, helping to create airports for the 21st century. 

“The grants are extraordinary,” Hochul said. “By making critical investments to further modernize facilities across upstate New York, we are lifting upstate airports to new heights and providing a 21st century transportation experience that travelers expect and deserve.” 

The nine airports awarded grants are Binghamton, Albany, Watertown, Syracuse, Rochester, Ogdensburg, Saratoga County, Sullivan County, and Adirondack Airports.

Albany International Airport was awarded $60 million for the expansion of the airport’s terminal, which will provide enhanced passenger amenities pre- and post-checkpoint and more efficient passenger flow through security. 

Pre-check point, the Albany project will create a modern business center for conferences and community gathering spaces to alleviate congestion. At checkpoint, the project will expand the security queue. Post-security, the project will expand the area where passengers prepare themselves for their journey, creating additional retail space, a children’s play zone, a multi-sensory calming room, and an outdoor green space. In addition, the project will improve the facility’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, for enhanced indoor air quality and filtration.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Applicants EC Woodlawn Vandam Property, LLC are seeking the demolition of an existing structure at 119 Woodlawn Ave. 

The structure is “dilapidated, incapable of restoration, uninsurable unusable,” according to documents submitted to the city. Its demolition “would benefit the aesthetic of the neighborhood thereby increasing property values of the neighboring lots.” 

The owner acquired the lot April 20, 2022. The structure is a single-family, 1,312 square foot home believed to be built about 1940, and is located just off Van Dam Street, and roughly opposite Bethel Saratoga Church.

A determination of the architectural/historic significance of that residential structure is under consideration by the Saratoga Springs Design Review Commission Board, which next meets at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at City Hall.    

Additional applications under consideration at the DRC include: a determination of architectural/historic significance of the motel, spa structures and gazebo with a mineral spring located at 120 South Broadway – where demolition is sought, and the Architectural Review of a proposed six-story, mixed-use building development at 30 Caroline St. 

BALLSTON SPA — Saratoga County is offering a series of upcoming clinics regarding the updated COVID-19 vaccine boosters. 

The boosters - called a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine - include components of the original virus strain and the Omicron variant and are designed to provide better protection against the Omicron variant, according to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. 

According to Saratoga County Department of Health data as of Sept. 2, 2022, since the start of COVID-19 in 2020 there were a total of 427 fatalities to county residents. Of those: 35 were vaccinated and up-to-date with booster recommendations, 68 were vaccinated but not up-to-date with booster recommendations, and 256 were not vaccinated. 

The FDA authorized bivalent formulations of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines for use as a single booster dose at least two months after completing primary or booster vaccination. 

Moderna Bivalent Booster 

Clinics - Individuals ages 

65 years and over

Friday, Sept. 23: 8:30 -10 a.m.

Monday, Sept. 26: 1:30 – 3 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 28: 

8:30  - 9:30 a.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 4: 2 - 3 p.m.

Pfizer Bivalent Booster 

Clinics - Individuals ages 

65 years and over

Thursday, Sept. 22: 8:30 – 10 a.m.

Tuesday, Sept.  27: 1:30 – 3 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 30: 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

Monday Oct. 3: 2 - 3 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 5: 8:30 - 9:30 a.m.

All clinics will take place at Saratoga County Public Safety Building – 6012 County Farm Road, Ballston Spa. To book an appointment, go to: www.saratogacountyny.gov/covid/covid-19-vaccines-and-boosters. For more information, call (518) 693-1075  Monday through Friday between 8AM and 4:30PM.

GLENS FALLS — For the seventh year, Adirondack Theatre Festival (ATF) will produce the Adirondack Film Festival, which again this year will be presented in a hybrid model, both in-person and online. The screenings will take place at the Charles R. Wood Theater and Crandall Library in downtown Glens Falls. 

An opening night reception Thursday, Oct. 13 at the Queensbury Hotel will feature an evening of music videos capped by “Blondie: Vivir en la Habana,” a short documentary about a path-breaking concert in Cuba by the band Blondie, and a Q&A with director Rob Roth. 

The band’s 2019 concert was part of an official cultural exchange between Havana and New York City. Blondie lead singer Debbie Harry pointed out that Havana’s resemblance to pre-gentrified New York made her feel like she’d been there before. 

“There’s so much beautiful architecture which has deteriorated due to the fact it’s a Caribbean island and salt air is disastrous to the edifices,” Harry told the NME last year, as the documentary had its North American premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.  “They’re in a period of renewal and it made me think back fondly to the ‘70s and the crumbling decay of the Lower East Side.” 

Blondie burst out of the Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s scene in downtown Manhattan in the mid-70s with their self-titled debut (most notably featuring the songs “X Offender,” and “Rip Her To Shreds”), and its follow-up LP ‘Plastic Letters.’ It was their third release, ‘Parallel Lines,’ that gained them national attention with the hit “Heart of Glass” in 1979 – and it is from this period and on into the ‘80s with the subsequent hit songs “Rapture” and “The Tide Is High” that the 18-minute documentary focuses its soundtrack. The film includes guitarist Chris Stein - who wasn’t able to go to the shows due to health reasons - and drummer Clem Burke, pounding away on his skins draped in – what else – a CBGB’s T-shirt. 

The opening night reception will feature a Q&A between ATF Producing Artistic Director Miriam Weisfeld and the film’s director Rob Roth. Roth - a longtime collaborator with Blondie, has also worked on projects with David Bowie, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna, among others. 

“Adirondack Film Festival is thrilled to host the regional premiere of Blondie: Vivir en la Habana and to introduce our community to its iconoclastic creator,” Weisfeld said. “Hearing firsthand from Rob Roth about the experience planning this trip to Cuba with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein and the unexpected twists and turns adds so much to the experience of seeing this innovative short film. Rob’s work spans film and theatre – just like the Adirondack Film Festival, which is the only film festival operated by a professional theatre company. I’m excited to be in conversation with Rob and ATF audiences about art, music, and storytelling across these different platforms. It’s what makes the Adirondack Film Festival unique.” 

The Adirondack Film Festival runs Oct. 13 – 15 and includes screenings of various features, documentaries, shorts, comedies, thrillers, and “Homegrown” Adirondack Region Films. There are a variety of ways that people may attend. 

“Last year we introduced an innovative range of options for audiences to participate in-person, online, or both. By far the most popular option was the ‘All-Access Pass,’ which grants entry to all the screenings in downtown Glens Falls, all the screenings online, plus panels, popcorn bars, parties, and the awards presentation. This year we’re excited to offer our patrons the same flexibility and the same great value,” ATF Managing Director Tracey Sullivan said in a statement. 

All-Access, In-Person, Virtual, and Day Passes are available at adkfilmfestival.org. With a few exceptions, the full lineup will be available both in-person and online. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — For the first time since 2019, downtown Saratoga Springs will play host to a multi-genre arts festival on New Year’s Eve. 

This year’s showcase – Saratoga New Year’s Fest – will showcase events spread throughout the weekend. 

Festivities are anticipated to kick off with a pre-party Friday night, Dec. 30, and begin in earnest on Saturday, Dec. 31 when an afternoon of family-friendly activities will lead to an early evening fireworks show. 

Live music will rule New Year’s Eve night. Multiple venues across town will be themed by sonic genre and stage shows by national headliners and regional musical combos alike. The lineup is slated to include Cowboy Junkies, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio (or DLO3, specializing in the lost art of feel good music), Jeffrey Gaines (with more than a quarter-century of recording and performing under his belt), as well as The Samples and Daniela Cotton. 

Cowboy Junkies were formed in Toronto in 1985 with siblings Michael Timmins on guitar, Margo Timmins on vocals, Peter Timmins on drums, and Michael’s lifelong friend Alan Anton on bass. The band has released 25 albums, a sequencing initiated with their 1988 debut LP “The Trinity Session,” featuring their hauntingly seductive rendition of the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane,” – reportedly cited by song creator Lou Reed as “the best and most authentic version I have ever heard.” 

“Early Bird” badges will provide access to all venues on New Year’s Eve and are on sale for $20. Reserved seating and VIP packages are also available. 

A fireworks show will be launched from the upper level of the Saratoga Springs City Center parking garage sometime around 6:30 p.m. New Year's Eve. 

The weekend schedule is also anticipated to include a Dance Flurry Takeover, Jam Bands galore, DJ dance party, and sporting tournaments. 

The 5k Road Run will this year take place on Sunday, New Year’s Day. Registration information will be forthcoming. 

For more information about the festival and to purchase admission badges, GO HERE

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