Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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SARATOGA SPRINGS – The city Finance Department submitted to the City Council on May 5 the First Quarter Financial Report of 2020.

The submitted material is as follows:

Please note that this report is prepared on a cash basis and no adjustments have been made for receivables or payables.

REVENUES:

General Fund Revenues

Property taxes in the General Fund are recognized as revenue for the full amount levied at the time the tax roll is posted to the general ledger. The Finance Office has reviewed the payments made as of 03/31/20 and 57% has been collected or $9,137,251.

Last year at this time 55% was collected. You will recall that property taxes can be paid in four installments with the first installment due March 1. However, the City offers a discount of 2.25% if the full year is paid on or before March 1. This accounts for the greater than 25% collection rate after only the first due date has passed.

As of 03/31/20 the City has not received many of the larger revenue streams.

- Sales Tax figures include only one month since February and March collections are not distributed to the City from NYS Taxation and Finance until April and May, respectively.

 - VLT Aid is paid in June.

- Hotel Occupancy Tax is paid to the City from the County on a quarterly basis. The first quarterly payment for 2020 will be received in April.

- County surplus distribution is paid on a quarterly basis too, with the first payment due in April.

- NYRA Admissions Tax is paid annually after the racing season has closed.

- The bulk of Franchise Tax is paid annually, in the last quarter of the year.

- State Aid Revenue sharing is distributed in two installments, September and December. The largest share is received in December.

- Mortgage Tax is paid semiannually in May and November.

Finance – When actual revenue is adjusted to reflect actual property tax receipts, then the Finance Office is at 24% collected.

Please note that Recreation revenues are only 11.8% as of March 31st. Recreation implemented a new online registration and payment system on January 13th. The company is required to provide a daily file that can be imported into the City’s financial software. As of 03/31 this process had not been completed and so revenue is not reported in the year to date budget report.

Taking into consideration the property tax revenue recognition issues, approximately 25% of revenues were actually received as of 03/31/20. In 2019 the adjusted approximate revenue collected was 26%.

Water and Sewer Revenues: The first quarter water and sewer bills for 2020 are mailed in April for a May 15th due date.

Capital Revenues: The City will issue a General Obligation bond in June to finance the 2020 capital projects.

EXPENSES:

General Fund Expenses

Mayor’s Office – Many contributions to outside organizations and events have been paid in full as of 03/31/20. Most other expenses are fairly consistent.

All – Liability insurance has been paid in full for the year. Additional expenses would be for claims or additional coverage. Most departments’ expenses are running at about 25%, which is on target for 03/31/20 and is consistent with the first quarter of 2019. Variances are due to seasonal expenses and grants.

Capital Expenses

Capital expenses are usually larger in the months where weather is more conducive to construction. In addition, large vehicle purchases often take many months to be built according to bid specifications.

Community Development

Since the Community Development block grants are awarded on a different schedule than the City’s fiscal year, no budget is established.

Submittal Date: May 5, 2020

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced that portions of the state may be able to reopen on May 15 when the New York on PAUSE order expires. 

The potential reopenings will occur in phases by "regions," and only if regions meet a series of benchmarks. 

The measures that need to be in place refer to the monitoring capabilities of new infections,  securing there is adequate capacity in the health care system to deal with potential new illnesses and hospitalizations, increased diagnostic testing, and having contact tracing in place to lessen the spread of the disease.      

Saratoga County is incoporated into the Capital Region - an eight-county area also consisting of Warren, Washington, Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Columbia, and Greene counties.

The criteria to reopen is comprised of seven headings. The Capital Region currently meets five of those. Those five include: a 14-day decrease in hospital deaths or fewer than five deaths over a three-day average; less than 2 per 100,000 new hospitalizations over a three-day rolling average; having ample hospital beds available – 41 % of total beds and 44 % of ICU beds where a minimum of 30% is required for each, and exceeding the metric requirements for the number of contact tracers needed.

The regional shortcomings, as depicted in a slide presentation by the governor on Monday, are in two categories. Those are: showing a 14-day decline in hospitalizations or under 15 new hospitalizations, and having a minimum of 30 per 1,000 residents tested monthly. Both the categories are taken as a three-day average.

Using Saratoga County specifically as a reference point, the number of hospitalizations has remained below the 15 person threshold since mid-April, although the county falls short in the testing criteria -  which would require approximately 700 Saratoga County residents be tested every three days. Recently the average number of residents being tested has been just under 500.

Still, it is important to note that Saratoga comprises just one of the eight counties in the Capital "Region" directive. Numbers from all counties must be collected an analyed, and the governor said Monday that regions believing they can start to reopen May 15 must first conduct their own analysis and ensure they meet the approriate criteria. "These are the facts they have to have in place to do it," Cuomo said. "Start now with the analysis; don’t wait until May 15."   

The  reopening would happen in stages.

Phase 1:  Construction, Manufacturing and wholesale supply chain, Select Retail - curbside pickup. 
Phase 2: Professional services, Finance and Insurance, Retail, Administrative Support, Real Estate/ Rental Leasing.
Phase 3: Restaurants/ Food Services, Hotels/Accomodations.
Phase 4: Arts/ Entertainment/ Recreation, Education. 

The regional approach would require input from, and the coordination of a variety of people - elected officials and hospital officials, among them. Details regarding the formation of a regional group, or the composition of its members is not immediately known.     

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, out of concern for the health and safety of the staff and community, and in accordance with guidelines from Skidmore College, is extending its temporary closure through the summer months. 

This difficult but necessary decision comes after considering current projections about the outbreak, and means the cancelation of beloved Tang summer traditions such as the annual community open house, Frances Day, and the popular Upbeat on the Roof concert series. These traditions will be back in 2021. The summer closure also means changes — but no cancelations — to the Tang’s previously announced exhibition schedule.

 “Summer at the Tang is a time of coming together for music, art, art-making, and community, but these extraordinary times require us to do our part to slow the spread by practicing social distancing,” said Dayton Director Ian Berry, in a statement. 

The Museum launched Tang at Home, an online hub for art-making activities and projects for all ages that bring the Tang experience into people’s homes at tang.skidmore.edu/education/tang-at-home. The Tang is adding new projects each week. The newest community project is Tang Extra Credit, in which everyone is invited to re-create works of art from the Tang collection with what they have around them. Email your re-creation to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and include your name, email address, and the name of the artwork that inspired you. Discover people’s re-creations at the Tang Extra Credit page.

New Dates for Exhibitions

Energy in All Directions, originally set for a July opening is now scheduled to open Oct. 10 and will stay on view through May 17, 2021.

Never Done: 100 Years of Women in Politics and Beyond, originally scheduled for Aug. 26 is now scheduled to open Sept. 17 and stay on view through June 6, 2021. 

• Lover Earth: Art and Ecosexuality will open as scheduled on May 30 as an online exhibition. 

For more information go to: tang.skidmore.edu/exhibitions. 

Thursday, 30 April 2020 13:32

Summer at SPAC: Wishin’ & Hopin’

SARATOGA SPRINGS —  NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week announced the possibility of some regions of the state gradually “reopening” after May 15, although he warned that potential phased-approach would not include attractions that would cause a large number of visitors flooding in from other areas. “You can’t do anything in one region that would increase the visitors to that (reopened) region,” he said. As such, the waiting game is in full swing in the Spa City -   just wishing and hoping and planning and dreaming, to paraphrase a Dusty Springfield song -  regarding the anticipated waves of the COVID-19 virus and its effect on everything from the competition of thoroughbreds at the racecourse to the staging of concerts at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. 

In a letter posted on SPAC’s website, organization President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol writes: “We understand that your own future planning may be affected by public concerns around the spread of COVID-19. The health and safety of everyone in our SPAC family and the Community are of critical importance to us, and we are adhering to guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as consulting continuously with local and state health authorities about the safest path forward for the coming months.” 

The New York City Ballet, scheduled to stage their residency at SPAC mid-July, have cancelled their Spring Season 2020 performances at Lincoln Center, which was slated to run through May 29. 

The Philadelphia Orchestra, whose homestand at SPAC is set to stage in August, have cancelled all their rehearsals, performances, and events through June. 

The SPAC Jazz festival June 27-28, headlined by Nile Rodgers & Chic, and Kool & The Gang, is still on at this point, as are the majority of summer pop concerts presented by Live Nation, with few outright cancellations - June 7: Celtic Woman; June 13: Zac Brown Band, and Aug. 3: Dead & Company, among them. 

Cancellations may come at any time. As it stands at this moment, the schedule of summer pop concerts at Saratoga Performing Arts is as follows: 

June 6: The Lumineers - III: The World Tour
June 24: KIDZ BOP Live 2020 Tour
June 30: Steely Dan with Special Guest Steve Winwood
July 2: Tedeschi Trucks Band - Wheels Of Soul 2020
July 3: Lindsey Stirling 
July 8:  Alanis Morissette with Special Guest Garbage and also appearing Liz Phair
July 9: Bob Dylan, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, The Hot Club Of Cowtown
July 10, 11: Dave Matthews Band
July 12: Countryfest 2020 with Brantley Gilbert & More
July 21: Chicago with Rick Springfield
July 22: Nickelback: All The Right Reasons Tour
July 24: Matchbox Twenty 2020
July 25: The Black Crowes Present: Shake Your Money Maker
July 26: The Doobie Brothers - 50th Anniversary Tour
July 29: Rod Stewart
Aug. 1: Journey with Pretenders
Aug. 4: Disturbed: The Sickness 20th Anniversary Tour with Staind & Bad Wolves
Aug. 9: Foreigner: Juke Box Hero Tour 2020
Aug. 11: Incubus with 311
Aug. 18: Sammy Hagar & The Circle and Whitesnake with Special Guest Night Ranger
Aug. 23: Goo Goo Dolls: The Miracle Pill Summer Tour
Aug. 31: Daryl Hall & John Oates
Sept. 6: Maroon 5
Sept. 6:  Meghan Trainor
Sept. 11: Backstreet Boys: DNA World Tour
Sept. 12: The Australian Pink Floyd Show - All That You Feel World Tour 2020

Visit spac.org for more details.

Thursday, 30 April 2020 13:24

COVID-19 Regional Roundup This Week

• Statewide, the number of total hospitalizations, intubations, new infection cases and deaths due to COVID-19 continue to stabilize or decline, although the number of new hospitalizations are flat about 1,000 per day, and the daily death count is still in the hundreds. Approximately 30,000 are tested for the virus daily across the state.     

• In Saratoga County specifically, approximately 2% of the county’s 240,000 residents have been tested. Those tests have been conducted largely with people who are health care workers, or patients who have displayed signs of illness or have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. About 7.4% of those who have taken the test - roughly 350 people – have tested positive for the virus, as of mid-week.

• Reopening. A plan to reopen segments of the state is underway, and the plan is to re-open in phases, and in particular regions, not statewide. This will occur after May 15, which is the date until the state remain on “pause.”  “I will extend them in many parts of the state, but in some parts of the state, some regions, you could make the case that we can UN-Pause. But we have to be smart about it,” Cuomo said. 

Criteria for potential reopening includes using CDC guidelines - that is, regional hospitalization rates must be in decline for 14 days. 

• In advance of reopening: Ensure an appropriate testing regimen, and put a tracing system in place. Tracing: identifies all who came into contact with infected person. Recommended: need at least 30 contact tracers per 100,000 people. Regions must also have plans for rooms available as “isolation facilities,” for infected residents who need to isolate, but cannot do so in their homes. Each region must appoint an oversight institution to monitor metrics. 

• Rate of infection: In New York City, right now 1 person infects 0.8 people; that rate is a little higher upstate which is at 0.9 percent, i.e.- 1 person infects 0.9 percent (less than one person). “If we keep the infection rate at less than one person that is where the infection rate continues to drop. So, we have to stay there.”

Points to watch after reopening: If hospitals hit 70% capacity OR rate of transmission of virus hits 1.1 – those are danger signs. “You must have 30% of your hospital beds available, 30% of your ICU beds,” Cuomo said. 

• Likely to reopen first is/are potentially regions in upstate New York.

• One caveat to reopening: NO attractions / openings that would draw a large number of visitors. “You can’t do anything in one region that would increase the visitors to that (reopened) region. It’s possible that you open something in Syracuse or you open something in the North Country where you now see license plates coming in from Connecticut and New Jersey, people from downstate, all coming to that area because they’ve been on lock-down and are now looking for an activity,” Cuomo said. “So that’s something we have to pay attention to. And all that is (conducted) in a multi-state context with our neighboring states and most relevant with downstate.” Identified downstate as: New York City, Long Island, Westchester.

• Gov. Cuomo also specifically discussed the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course. “You can’t open an attraction that could bring people from across the state to that attraction and overwhelm a region,” Cuomo said.  “Saratoga Race Track – I don’t think you can open unless we can open (all large-scale attractions) statewide.” 

Cuomo went on to say that a pent-up public demand to get out of the house would result in people from across the northeast region flocking to Saratoga. “Now, you could say, well, that’s great for the Saratoga Race Track – but density is not our friend...How do you do six feet apart at the racetrack?” He added that any such opening would require a statewide opening of various public attractions so as to reduce the density of people overwhelmingly flocking to just one region. 

• On casinos: “You have to look at the industry and how they’re going to conduct their business. You’d have to do social distancing, you’d have to have monitoring. It’s going to be difficult in the context of a casino, but depending on the casino: not impossible. You’d have to look at it on an individual basis.” 

• On schools: “We will have a decision by the end of this week what to do about schools.” 

• The first phase of reopening will be in the Construction/ Manufacturing sector with low-risk. There will then be a monitoring of effects two weeks after reopening regarding the status of new infections, as that is typically the amount of time it takes for the illness to manifest. 

How to monitor after reopening, three ways: diagnostic tests (positive or negative if you are infected); antibody tests (how many people had previously been infected); number of hospitalizations. If the monitoring process reveals no new problems, then a second phase, involving more essential lower-risk businesses may be opened in that region. The governor said he is open to dialogue regarding what kind of businesses those should be. 

• Antibody testing continues. Antibody testing indicates who has had the virus.  Percent positive average statewide: 14.9%. Capital Region specifically (which includes Saratoga): 2.1%. According to the survey, 25% of the NY City population has had the virus and have now recovered. 

• According to a mapped depiction of the state broken into regions, the “Capital District” includes an eight-county region: Warren, Washington, Saratoga, Rensselaer, Columbia, Greene, Albany, and Schenectady counties. 

• Diagnostic testing statewide is about 30,000 per day. 

• Antibody testing this week will be conducted on 3,000 health care workers and 1,000 transit workers, 1,000 NYPD and 1,000 NYFD. 

• Gov. Cuomo this week requested the Board of Elections mail every New York voter a return postage paid application whereby residents may secure a voting ballot. “If you want to vote, we should send you a ballot so you can vote and don’t have to wait on line,” Cuomo said. Physical polls will still be open on Election Day.

• Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, said a regional task force of 40 people from Saratoga County has been put together and meeting virtually to address protocols for an eventual safe reopening of businesses. 

• Congressman Paul Tonko (D, NY-20) and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R, NY-21) both voted in the House of Representatives in support of advancing a $484 billion interim emergency funding package that will provide vital assistance to small businesses and protect Americans with added aid to hospitals, healthcare workers and testing. The bill was passed by a vote of 388 – 5. The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act: Provides an additional $310 billion in PPP loans; Provides an additional $10 billion for Emergency Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) grants; Appropriates an additional $50 billion for the Disaster Loans Program Account; Allows agricultural enterprises with less than 500 employees to receive EIDL grants and loans; Provides an additional $75 billion for reimbursement to hospitals and healthcare providers to support the need for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue, and provides $25 billion for necessary expenses to research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer, and expand capacity for COVID-19 tests. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — An increasingly dangerous sign of the coronavirus lockdown has come to light in recent weeks in communities across the country where there is a marked increase of people delaying seeking care when they are sick or hurt.

The issue has grown from a reluctance of people willing to go to hospitals or urgent care facilities for fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus. 

Last week, the Washington Post reported on the international phenomenon of the pandemic producing a silent sub-epidemic of people who need care at hospitals but are frightened to go to the ER. Titled “Patients with heart attacks, strokes and even appendicitis vanish from hospitals,” the article described how people with everything from inflamed appendixes to those suffering chest pains and stroke symptoms were avoiding seeking medical treatment out of fear of physically seeking care, resulting in illness and mortality concerns among the medical community. This has also played out on the local stage. 

“If you’re having a medical problem that concerns you and goes beyond what a physician in their office can manage then you should really come to the emergency department, or Urgent Care and let us take care of you. People should not wait until things can go very bad for them,” says Dr. Timothy Brooks, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Saratoga Hospital. 

“Since this started, we’ve watched our volume drop off 40 to 50 %. The number of people who would normally come in by ambulance or by foot have disappeared. Our perception is that people are terrified about coming in because they have the belief they could catch COVID-19.

 “This drop in volume really concerns us, because the disease progression that people have for all the other medical problems continues on, and what we’re seeing is people waiting far too long to come in. Instead of having a problem that might require a brief hospitalization, they are critically ill and end up on a ventilator in the ICU. And that’s happened multiple times,” says Dr. Brooks, who was born in Detroit, studied at medical school at the University of Michigan and relocated to Saratoga Springs in the late 1980s

Saratoga Hospital assures that precautions are in place to take care of all patients, and everyone admitted to the hospital is tested for COVID-19. “At the hospital and at Urgent Care – we have mechanisms in place to keep people separated and to take care of them safely. There’s not a single person in the building where we don’t know their status relative to being covid-positive or covid-negative. That way we can separate people out with COVID-19 infections,” Dr. Brooks says. “They are isolated on a separate floor and are taken care of by specific nurses, and other parts of the hospitals do not have those types of patients. Once a patient leaves our department, their room is completely sanitized with the appropriate cleaners and virus-cides.” 

Inside the hospital, the work goes on. “The day has changed in the sense that when you approach patients who may be infectious it takes a little more time and preparation before you go into each room, as well as when you leave that room,” Dr. Brooks says. “I have to say I am so proud of the staff in this emergency department. Everybody stepped up to the line.” 

Regardless of when an un-pausing or reopening occurs, Brooks says until a vaccine is introduced, he anticipates the virus will circulate among the population, and that the hospital is prepared to deal with ongoing public issues. 

As for hospital occupancy, there is ample space for people to address issues both in the emergency room and the rest of the hospital. This week, Gov. Cuomo announced he will sign an Executive Order allowing some hospitals – Saratoga Hospital among them – to resume conducting elective surgeries, a practice which he had ordered halted in March as the virus was spreading across the state.   

Saratoga Hospital currently describes three working criteria for beginning what is broadly termed “elective” surgery. The procedures are defined as: medically necessary, time-sensitive surgeries for patients with significant symptoms or serious illness, and a predicted negative health impact without the surgery. 

“Cases that needed to be done and should be done, we’re in the process of bringing those back and getting them going. We’re still holding off on some areas that I would call discretionary – cosmetic plastic surgery is a good example,” says Saratoga Hospital President and CEO Angelo Calbone. “People who are in pain, conditions that may worsen if we don’t get to them. This is work that needs to be done.”

Approximately 3,000 people work under the Saratoga Hospital banner. At the hospital, there are approximately 170 licensed beds. 

“This has been a learn-as-you-go situation. We know how to run a hospital. We know how to respond to emergencies. This has been a new struggle challenge for all of us. I can tell you the staff here have been beyond remarkable, gearing up, understanding the new protocols. They’ve done a wonderful job,” Calbone says. “Frankly what has been a challenge has been the lack of testing materials, getting access to personal protective equipment for our staff and the bottleneck supply chain that emerged. That really threw a wrench into every institution’s ability to respond to this. But how our staff managed COVID in the building isn’t that different to how they managed every infectious disease. I think the entire industry was startled as to short supplies and access to supplies and how limited testing was at the time we needed it most. That’s what made this unusually challenging.

“We have had our heads down, seven days a week, making sure this hospital is well-positioned and capable of taking care of the community. Hospitals and health care providers are very used to taking care of infectious diseases – we know how to do that. And we’ve taken great strides making this a very safe environment. We’re confident and comfortable saying to our entire community: if you need to access health care, this is as safe of an environment as you will enter anywhere in the community. Being afraid to come in, isn’t a good reason to avoid care,” Calbone says. 

“We get concerned when we see patients end up in our ER with conditions that have worsened and potentially even threatened their lives that could easily have been managed if they sought care – as they would have – three months ago. That’s a message we’re been trying to get out there.”

Thursday, 30 April 2020 13:09

New Office Building Proposed

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A new six-story office building may soon be coming to Broadway. 

This week, an application anticipated to be reviewed by the Saratoga Springs Planning Board calls for the site plan review of a proposed project at 269 Broadway which will see the construction of a six-story commercial and retail building for mixed-use, as well as an underground parking garage. 

The building is slotted to stand on the west side of Broadway, between Broadway and Hamilton Street, just north of Saratoga Central Catholic High School.   

 

The applicants – 269 Broadway LLC – are located at 85 Railroad Place, headquarters of Prime Group Holdings, which owns and manages over $2 billion of self-storage properties across the U.S. According to the Albany Business Review, the company currently employs 70 people downtown and the company’s founder and chief executive Bob Moser expects that number to expand by 50 to 100% with the development of a new
six-story corporate headquarters on Broadway. 

The first floor of the building will consist of retail, with the second through sixth floors housing offices. A restaurant will be added to the second floor. At its tallest, the structure will rise to 70 feet in height. 

There are currently 24 existing parking spaces on the otherwise vacant lot site where the building will be constructed. The application seeks to add an additional 47, creating a total of 71 spaces. Those spaces will be a part of a two-level underground parking garage accessible via Hamilton Street.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, who represents the 113th Assembly District, issued a statement Thursday morning arguing against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “instinct to cancel” the Saratoga meet, and recommending the region prepare to move forward planning to hold the summer card at Saratoga Race Course.     

 The portion of the statement pertaining to Saratoga Race Course is as follows:

“I couldn't possibly disagree more with the Governor’s instinct to cancel this year’s meet at Saratoga Race Course, even without fans. The equine industry is a core component of New York State agriculture, the largest sector of the state's economy. Opening the rest of the economy while keeping the track closed disrupts a major economic driver and the livelihood that thousands of people rely upon.

 The Governor has lumped together various forms of entertainment and referred to them as 'attractive nuisances.' I would like to stress that horse racing is unique and needs to be approached differently than concerts and sporting events.

 We need to move forward planning to hold this year’s race meet. Maintaining the schedules and operations of the dozens of different sectors of agriculture including foaling farms, stables, hay farms, equine veterinarians, and tack shops all necessary to making a race season possible.

 Our region, state and nation are continuing a trend that points to a resilient and healthier society and economy by July and August.  

Cancelling now would leave us no ability to decide to race later. However, continuing to prepare for a meet will allow for a variety of potential opportunities including but not limited to social distancing, limited viewership, and personal protective equipment. “

ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo on Wednesday afternoon discussed the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course, which is slated to open July 16. 

 “You can’t open an attraction that could bring people from across the state to that attraction and overwhelm a region,” Cuomo said.  “Saratoga Race Track – I don’t think you can open unless we can open (all large-scale attractions) statewide.”

Cuomo went on to say: because there is such a pent-up demand to get out of the house and do something, you open the Saratoga Race Track, I guarantee you you’ll have the highest attendance in the history of the Saratoga Race Track. You will have people from the entire northeast region driving to the Saratoga race track just because they want to get out of the house. Now, you could say, well, that’s great for the Saratoga Race Track – but density is not our friend...How do you do sit six feet apart at the racetrack?  

“I think it would have to be a statewide opening coordinated with Connecticut and New Jersey, otherwise you will have a much more dense situation - being the only attraction in town - and town is a tri-state region.”  

A few hours later on Wednesday, New York Racing Association Director of Communications Pat McKenna released the following statement:

NYRA joins the entire racing community in applauding Governor Cuomo’s steady leadership throughout this unprecedented public health crisis. We recognize that decisions about large scale events are rightly left to our elected leaders and public health officials. At the same time, horseracing is in a unique position as a sport that can be safely staged without attendees. Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo encouraged sports entities to consider how they could operate without fans in attendance that would be economically viable while providing much needed entertainment.

By closing to spectators and reducing employees and support staff to only those who are required under the rules of racing, the running of races would support the small businesses and hourly workers who form the backbone of the sport. NYRA held races at Aqueduct Racetrack safely and securely under these conditions through March 15. Our experience during this period of time, as well as our ability to continue the training operation at Belmont Park throughout the pandemic, informs the strict safety protocols that we currently have in place at Belmont Park and would seek to implement at Saratoga Race Course.

As such, NYRA is seeking to resume live racing at Belmont Park in the absence of fans and we have prepared operating plans that follow the same model for Saratoga. These plans prioritize the health and safety of employees, horsemen and the backstretch community and include a broad array of risk mitigation strategies developed according to the most updated heath guidance. By closing to the public, layering additional health and safety protocols to our ongoing practices, and reducing the number of employees on-property, NYRA is in a position to provide a small sense of normalcy for fans across the country who can watch on television and online. At the same time, this model will enable NYRA to preserve its ability to serve as the cornerstone of an industry that generates more than 19,000 jobs in New York and $3 billion in annual economic impact.

This is a delicate balance, and one that must always prioritize health and safety. NYRA has experience finding that balance and we are committed to taking every step possible to keep our communities safe while providing entertainment and contributing to the New York economy as we collectively begin the return to a new normal.

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Fasig-Tipton will consolidate its July, Saratoga, and New York Bred yearling sales into one selected yearling auction – the 2020 Selected Yearlings Showcase – to be held on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 9-10, at its Lexington, Kentucky facility, the company announced Monday.  The decision was made “after evaluating the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic for the last several weeks,” according to a statement.

Billed as “the crown jewel of the North American yearling sales calendar,” the Saratoga Sale, staged Aug. 5-6, 2019 in Saratoga Springs brought more than $55 million.  The two-day New York Bred Yearlings sale one week later brought an additional $16.2 million.

"2020 has been a difficult year so far, and we are all being forced to make decisions that we never envisioned having to make," said Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning, in a statement. "We waited as long as possible to come to these determinations, conducting our due diligence to ensure that we make informed decisions that are in the best interests of our buyers and sellers.

"Our two Saratoga auctions are tied closely to the race meet.  We desperately want to see a traditional Saratoga race meet as much as anyone.  However, the details for the race meet – including whether spectators will be permitted – are understandably not finalized.  We are at a point in time where we must provide our sellers with a definitive schedule so that they can make sales plans for their yearlings."

The July, Saratoga, and NY Bred Selected Yearling Sales are anticipated to return to their traditional dates in 2021.  The company intends to conduct the remainder of its 2020 auction calendar as scheduled. Fasig-Tipton will offer a group of selected New York Bred yearlings as part of the Saratoga Fall Mixed Sale, scheduled to be held on Oct. 20 in Saratoga Springs.

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Blotter

  • COURT Jahelijah Davis, 38, of Watervliet, pleaded Nov. 18 to attempted sexual abuse in the first-degree, a felony, in Ballston. Sentencing scheduled Nov. 15, 2021.  Juan A. Vazquez, 47, of South Glens Falls, was sentenced Nov. 18 to serve 20 years to life, after pleading to murder in the second-degree. According to the Saratoga County District Attorney’s office,  Vazquez, at the time he entered his plea, admitted he intentionally caused the death of Kenny J. Shipski on April 10, 2020, following an argument that took place regarding drugs, and ended with Vazquez stabbing Shipski several times when visiting his room…

Property Transactions

  • BALLSTON DeGraff Bloom Custom Builders sold property at 4 Jubilee Acres Lane to John Vanvorst for $565,162. Brendan Killian sold property at 633 Goode St to LeAnn Westfall for $325,000. Eastline Holdings LLC sold property at 11 Tamarack St to Kyle Lavoie for $399,980. Greggory Schuyler sold property at 35 Buell Ave to Donna Morgan for $249,000. Eileen Collins sold property at 48 Jenkins Rd to Brittany Foster for $260,000. GREENFIELD Bruce Schnitz sold property at 9 Kircher Rd to Brian Galvin for $925,000. MALTA DeGraff Bloom Custom Builders Inc sold property at 43 Vettura Ct to Anne Gregoire for…
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