SARATOGA SPRINGS – A spokesman for Delaware North, the company that operates the Gideon Putnam Hotel, has indicated that Tuesday, May 1 is the targeted date for reopening the popular resort. It has been closed since the middle of January, when serious flooding occurred in a basement.
Delaware North spokesman Glen White said this week that repairs are ongoing at the Gideon Putnam in relation to damage that was sustained to gas lines and boilers, electric wires, computers and phone systems.
With the hotel closed, White reported that “some planned renovations” are also being completed in its 124 guest rooms, including painting and the installation of new carpets.
Guest and group reservations are still being rescheduled as a result of the flooding event, White added.
For more information, visit the website https://www.gideonputnam.com.
(Left to right) Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association Treasurer Christine E. Kernochan; President Stacy Simmons; Vice President Sandra Hassfurter; and Secretary Kelly Ostrander. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
BALLSTON SPA – Members of the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association (BSBPA) have settled on new officers to continue the promotion of village businesses and special events in the next fiscal year.
Effective April 1, current BSBPA President Stacy Simmons, Vice President Sandy Hassfurter and Treasurer Christine E. Kernochan were renamed for those positions. Secretary Kelly Ostrander and Kathi Leigh, a member of the BSBPA Board of Directors, were named, respectively, vice president and secretary.
The BSBPA was officially formed in 1983. Its members organize networking breakfasts every month at village businesses, as well as popular “First Friday” events such as the “Chocolate Fest” in February. The group also arranges seasonal movies and concerts in Wiswall Park on Front Street.
Starting at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 19, the BSBPA is hosting a 35th anniversary Community Mixer and its 2018 Annual Meeting at the Next Door Kitchen and Bar at 51 Front Street. The event is open to the public. Admission is $30 per person.
Photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
Work to Begin Soon on Crescent Avenue and East High Street Spans Over I-87
MALTA – Local officials are making preparations for several months of detours around the Crescent Avenue and East High Street bridges over the Adirondack Northway, which have been scheduled for closures in early April due to an apparent need for upgrades.
Saratoga County Emergency Services Director Carl Zeilman confirmed this week that state Department of Transportation (DOT) officials had convened a recent meeting to discuss the pending bridge closures with county fire and emergency personnel.
Both infrastructure projects will be completed entirely by state DOT contractors.
The related information, Zeilman said, “has already been circulated” countywide among 911 dispatchers and other emergency workers.
All of the county’s 911 dispatchers operate out of the Primary Public Safety Answering Point (or PSAP) at the Saratoga County jail complex, according to Zeilman.
“It’s a team effort when we do this,” he added. “It really does work smoothly.”
During a brief presentation Monday night, Malta Deputy Supervisor Darren O’Connor indicated that the East High Street bridge—situated within Malta’s town borders—would be closed to traffic from Monday, April 2 through Labor Day in September.
Motorists commonly use that span as a shortcut between Route 9 and the Village of Ballston Spa.
O’Connor said he is “not entirely clear on the time frame” for the bridge closure on Crescent Avenue, which connects Route 9 motorists with the Saratoga Casino Hotel area and lakeside residential neighborhoods in the City of Saratoga Springs.
“We’ll just have to handle it the best we can. We’ll adapt,” offered Police Department Lt. Robert Jillson, when contacted for comment. “Our hand is forced.”
If the bridge closure continues through track season, Jillson added, officers could still direct travelers down the Crescent Avenue exit ramp to connect with the Northway’s southbound lanes.
Bryan Viggiani, a DOT spokesman, indicated this week that he is preparing formal public announcements regarding the Saratoga County bridge closures. He declined to provide further details.
(Left to right) Photos by Jordan Craig and Ann MacAffer.
BALLSTON SPA – Last month, a state Supreme Court judge dismissed a lawsuit resulting from a two-year dispute over expansion plans at the Saratoga Polo Association property on Bloomfield Road in Greenfield Center.
The Feb. 16 decision issued by Judge Thomas Nolan centered on the difference between a “legally enforceable joint venture” and “an unenforceable agreement to agree.”
Nolan granted a motion by defendants to dismiss the case “in its entirety,” clearly indicating that it belongs in the latter category.
Attorney Robert Ganz of the Albany firm Lippes, Mathias, Wexler and Friedman represented defendants Michael Bucci and James Rossi.
“It is my clients’ hope that that will be the end of it,” he said, referring to Nolan’s ruling. It can be appealed to a higher state court within 30 days, he added.
Ganz said the legal dispute revolves around the lack of a “binding commitment” to complete a substantial development project at the polo club.
Several years ago, Greenfield town officials approved a formal application for the same project.
As they entered into subsequent agreements, Bucci and Rossi intended to preserve club grounds that are “laden with tradition,” Ganz explained.
Specifically, Nolan reviewed details for the proposed construction of “70 residential units to supplement the existing polo operations” on the 43-acre site; and various financing arrangements for the project that were discussed by both sides in the legal dispute.
Plaintiffs Duane Gerenser, Carl Berry and Michael Connor had filed the lawsuit against Bucci and Rossi to “force control” of the development, according to Ganz.
The court decision referenced a total value for an agreement between the parties of $3.6 million.
Pioneer Savings Bank and First National Bank of Scotia also were named as parties to the dispute.
Attorneys for Berry, Connor and Gerenser at the Albany firm Cullen and Dykman could not be reached for comment.
In an “amended complaint,” Nolan wrote, the plaintiffs alleged eight “causes of action” against Green Fields Development and Saratoga Polo Catering and Event Services—the business entities set up by Bucci and Rossi.
Nolan indicated that a ninth allegation of “aiding and abetting the Green Fields defendants in their breach of fiduciary duty” was directed at Michaels and Laraway Holdings, LLC.
Still, Nolan wrote, “it is clear from its language that other documents had to be created before the contemplated joint venture became a legally enforceable business venture. The facts that plaintiffs elected to move forward with design and engineering consultants and incurred expenses before they had a final ‘deal’ cannot serve as the basis for the court to find that the parties agreed to all of the material terms to develop the polo property.
“In sum, the court finds that there was no enforceable contract between plaintiffs and the Green Fields defendants,” the judge concluded. “Thus, there can be no cognizable breach of the contract. All of the plaintiffs’ causes of action lack merit since they all are premised on the claim that there was a binding contract with Green Fields.”
(Front photo) Jeremy Armstrong. Photo by www.photoandgraphic.com; Armstrong, Vicky DeNew and Communications Specialist Pamela Polacsek at the 2017 Saratoga Bridges White Party Gala. Photo by Heather Bohm-Tallman; and Armstrong in Halloween mode with his housemates in Milton. Photo provided.
MALTA – Jeremy Armstrong is the type of guy who always finds a way to keep smiling.
“If you set your mind to do anything you want to do, hard work pays off,” says the 33-year-old Milton resident.
This week, Armstrong made arrangements in his busy schedule to conduct a brief interview at the administrative offices of Saratoga Bridges in Malta.
According to Saratoga Bridges Communications Specialist Pamela Polacsek, President Ronald Reagan first declared March as Disabilities Awareness Month more than 30 years ago. Three years later, the U.S. Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act.
For the benefit of people with disabilities, that law mandated special parking spaces along with safe access points to public and private buildings nationwide.
At about the same time, Polacsek herself was afflicted with an unidentified virus that attacked her nervous system and confined her to a wheelchair.
“It was life-changing, but things happen,” she said. Polacsek noted that her “path” eventually led to Saratoga Bridges, where she has worked for almost 20 years.
She reported this week that Saratoga Bridges assists more than 100 individuals by managing residential opportunities for them in local apartments and group homes, such as the house in Milton that Armstrong shares with two other men.
The goal is to help every person make the best of living, working and “socializing in the community,” Polacsek said.
Armstrong, a Saratoga Bridges client for 10 years, is more than happy to explain how that goal can be reached.
He occupies much of his time working in a grocery store; volunteering for local food pantries or animal shelters; drawing; and otherwise enjoying his downtime at home.
“I love doing art, and I especially like to draw Great Escape stuff and Christmas and Halloween,” Armstrong said, emphasizing his fascination with amusement parks. He has practiced at the Creative Endeavors Art Center at 49 Front Street in Ballston Spa.
“Once I get back into art classes, I want to sell my artwork,” he added. “I’m trying to save up for a trip this fall to Six Flags in Georgia.”
Armstrong says he likes “roller coasters” the most, and that during the recreation season he takes trips almost every weekend to the Great Escape.
For nearly 12 years, Armstrong has worked in the bakery of the Ballston Avenue Price Chopper. “The people there are great, the employees. Everybody treats me very well,” he said. “Pretty soon I’m going to be trained to write on the cakes.”
Armstrong said he also finds the volunteer work offered through Saratoga Bridges to be quite satisfying.
The Achieving Career Enhancement Without Walls program puts Armstrong in regular contact with a Ballston Spa food pantry; a backpack program at the Moreau Community Center that helps needy children; the Open Door Mission in Glens Falls; and the Friends of Phoebie Animal Rescue in Queensbury.
“I love dogs and puppies,” he beamed.
In addition, Armstrong admitted that he recently accomplished a personal goal of losing weight. The whole experience has enriched his relationships with both friends and staff at Saratoga Bridges, he indicated.
“I just want to feel better about myself, so I’m trying to eat healthier and I’ve lost about 50 pounds,” Armstrong said. “I haven’t had a soda since Christmas. I feel great. I’ve got a lot of motivation.”
STILLWATER – Town officials in Stillwater advanced a proposal last week by Albany-based Amedore Homes to expand a residential development near Route 9P on the southern end of Saratoga Lake.
Amedore Homes plans to add 19 buildings, each containing four condominiums, to its existing Winding Brook neighborhood of more than 40 single-family homes off Battlefield Road (Route 423).
On Thursday, March 1, the Stillwater Town Board voted unanimously in favor of making a formal “negative” declaration under the state Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), indicating that Amedore’s 76-unit condo project will not have adverse impacts.
The board also was unanimous in passing a related amendment for the Winding Brook Planned Development District (PDD), moving Amedore’s proposal to the next level in the approval process.
The Stillwater Planning Board is expected to review Amedore’s PDD amendment and formal site plans as well. The planning board will schedule additional public hearings in the months ahead, according to town Supervisor Edward Kinowski.
The Ellsworth Commons complex in Malta. Photo by www.photoandgraphic.com; and a slow rush-hour moment at an Exit 12 traffic circle. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
MALTA — Already, the traffic circle in Malta’s town center must rank as one of the busiest intersections in Saratoga County.
Most drivers there seem so focused on avoiding other vehicles that they ignore an important historical marker by the road. The tall, blue sign with yellow letters honors Col. Elmer Ellsworth, who it says was “born nearby” 181 years ago. He reportedly was “the first” Union Army officer killed in the Civil War.
The volume of traffic east of I-87 Exit 12 has increased rapidly with the recent arrival of a sprawling, four-story, mixed-use commercial and residential complex that also was named after Ellsworth—not to mention the construction of new banks, hotels, offices, restaurants and several more housing developments on either side of Routes 9 and 67.
This week, officials in the Town of Malta indicated that the localized business boom will continue, as they moved plans through the approval process for an ambitious commercial plaza on Route 9 and a Cumberland Farms on Route 67.
A well-organized team of professionals presented maps and details for the Cumberland Farms project on Tuesday before the Malta Planning Board. Stefanie Dilallo Bitter of the Glens Falls law firm Bartlett, Pontiff, Stewart and Rhodes, led them.
“We didn’t submit this application in haste,” began Bitter, noting how her team members are closely analyzing applicable town codes. She said the 24-hour convenience store would be “a very attractive building” that stands as a “perfect” complement to recent development in the area.
After obtaining town approvals, Bitter said she anticipates construction of the 5,200-square-foot store to start in April 2019 and finish by that autumn. It will be located on the vacant lot owned by DCG Development between Blacksmith Drive and a Verizon Wireless outlet.
Saratoga Water Services President Marissa Mackay, whose company supplies considerable amounts of water in the same area, said in an email that the store “will utilize roughly 572 gallons per day based on our typical calculation of similar structures and building use.”
In general, Mackay added, her company is well prepared to supply any increases in water usage amidst Malta’s building boom.
“We are acutely aware of the growth of the town and incidentally the needed growth of our facilities in order to properly service our existing customers, as well as be able to support the growth—be it commercial, industrial or residential,” she wrote.
Bitter’s team and planning board members did discuss numerous “constraints” at the Cumberland Farms site, including the proximity of a traffic circle and the possible difficulties that tractor-trailer drivers may face as they navigate turns to deliver store supplies.
Malta Building and Planning Coordinator Jaime O’Neill explained that the applicants have proposed a driveway on Route 67 with right turns only for vehicles entering and exiting. Those specific site plans are being reviewed by the state Department of Transportation, she said.
The Cumberland Farms project is covered by Malta’s “form-based code” process, which enables applicants to negotiate directly with town planning staff on specific site plan changes and thereby avoid more time-consuming municipal approvals.
However, Malta Planner Floria Huizinga made it clear that the proposal would require a number of modifications, in addition to variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
She mentioned, in particular, the proper setbacks from Route 67; the precise dimensions of a patio; a lack of suitable landscaping and sidewalks; and the presence of “faux” windows on the proposed building.
“They have some challenges in front of them when they go to the zoning board,” Huizinga advised, referring to the applicants.
Planning Board Member Roger Laime said he appreciated modern Cumberland Farms stores. But the brightness of any lights and the visibility of “mechanicals” both need to be addressed, he said.
At the Feb. 27 meeting, the planning board agenda also listed a concept site plan for the “Park Place commercial project.” It will fill most of a nearly 10-acre site on either side of Landau Boulevard, which connects to Route 9 across from a gas station.
The Park Place project falls under Malta’s form-based code as well. But last year the Town Board approved a related Planned Development District measure, requiring the applicant to cap its square footage on the lower level of the complex.
Michael Bianchino of the Malta firm Lansing Engineering said the project consists of 80,000 square feet of “ground floor commercial space.” Significant additional square footage will be available on the upper levels.
Bianchino explained that negotiations with prospective tenants are ongoing, and that they may include a restaurant, day-care facility and drive-thru pharmacy.
“The surrounding infrastructure was designed to accommodate this development,” he told the board members.
If the final town approvals can be secured by the end of March, Bianchino added, construction of the commercial plaza is expected to start later this summer.
O’Neill expressed confidence that the town planning staff would usher both current projects—and a slew of others in the immediate area—toward successful conclusions.
She welcomed the challenge of managing Malta’s continued growth, too. “I would say it’s extremely robust, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down,” O’Neill said.
MILTON – After observing a related vote on Wednesday night, two members of the Milton Ethics Board suddenly resigned, citing apparent conflicts between a recently elected member of the town board and the woman who was the subject of the vote.
The Milton Town Board voted in favor this week of appointing Brenda L. Baird to the five-member ethics board, which recently has experienced significant turnover.
The board investigates ethics complaints in Milton and makes formal recommendations, but only the town board has the authority to act on them or not.
At the town board’s Jan. 24 meeting, opposition to Baird’s appointment was posed by Councilwoman Barbara Kerr and Councilman Benny Zlotnick.
Their comments centered on connections between Baird and fellow Councilman John Frolish, who was elected on the Republican ticket last November alongside Supervisor Scott Ostrander. Baird reportedly helped Frolish on his political campaign.
Zlotnick said this week that his previous concerns about Baird’s appointment were addressed. But Kerr persisted and was the sole opposing vote, saying afterward that the political climate in Milton is “digressing” under Ostrander’s leadership.
Ethics Board Chairman Robert Keihm said there is an “atmosphere” of questionable activities surrounding Baird’s appointment, considering her political ties to Frolish and the “disgraceful” details of the appointment itself.
During the public comment section of the Feb. 28 meeting, Keihm and ethics board member John Bory both handed in resignation letters to Town Clerk William Mevec.
“I have lost faith and confidence” in town officials as long as they fuel “suspicion and mistrust,” Keihm said.
“The only reason I applied to the ethics board is to serve my community,” replied Baird herself, when she appeared at the podium. She called the claims being made about her and Frolish “ridiculous.”
Baird added: “I wouldn’t know how to have a political agenda.”
“I think you all should be ashamed of yourselves,” longtime Milton resident and former ethics board member Suzanne Canell told the town board members. “Every one of you.”
Afterward, Ostrander spoke in his own defense by noting the accessibility of his Geyser Road office for residents to discuss their concerns in person. “My door is open to anyone in this town,” he said.
Avant Garde Drum and Bugle Corps Founder Jeff Perkins. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – After a hiatus of 33 years, members of the renowned Avant Garde Drum and Bugle Corps of Saratoga County are planning to participate in the Flag Day Parade scheduled for June 9 on Broadway, Saratoga Springs.
“We wound up being world class. We just went all over the country,” remembers former director and corps founder Jeff Perkins.
The famed marching band disbanded in 1985, Perkins explained, yet a number of its original members have committed to making music again during this year’s Flag Day festivities in the city. They range in age from their late 50s to early 80s, he said.
From the original corps of more than 100 Avant Garde musicians will be baritone player Joe Anderson, who received a heart transplant nearly a year ago in Boston.
Anderson is “doing awesome,” Perkins said. “He says he feels like a 20-year-old.”
This weekend, according to Perkins, dozens of corps members are traveling to the city and will gather for a preliminary “Weekend Camp” rehearsal at the Church of St. Peter on Broadway, across from the Holiday Inn.
“We’re trying to make it mandatory,” he noted. “We can only guess that the majority will come.”
On Saturday afternoon, the brass, percussion and Color Guard members will start practicing in separate rooms at the school. The full corps will meet at 5 p.m. in the gymnasium—under strict rules of wearing only sneakers.
The Saratoga-Wilton Elks Lodge off Route 9 will host a buffet breakfast for Avant Garde corps members on Sunday morning, followed by more band practice at St. Peter’s.
The next mandatory Avant Garde rehearsal will be on Friday, June 8.
The “ballads” that corps members play, Perkins added, are “very impressive when they’re played loud.”
Perkins can clearly recall the reaction from people on Broadway during the last Avant Garde performances in the mid-1980s. “We stopped at the reviewing stand and just blew the place apart,” he said.
In December, Saratoga-Wilton Elks Loyal Knight Susan Waghorn started organizing this year’s popular Flag Day Parade. She indicated that it will be the 51st on Broadway.
“We do a lot for the community,” Waghorn said. “We’re pretty excited about it.”
She explained that 10 to 12 musical groups, including the Avant Garde and local school bands, will be spread across five “divisions” in the parade. There also will be contingents of military personnel, senior citizens and World War II veterans.
“Everyone is represented,” Waghorn said.
Members of the Avant Garde Drum and Bugle Corps will travel for this weekend’s rehearsal—and the Flag Day festivities in June—from other states and even Canada, according to national Elks marketing manager Rick Gathen, who originally devised the band reunion idea.
“The excitement of getting back together to perform one more time is incredible,” Gathen said, noting how he must travel from New Jersey to participate.
“Avant Garde alumni will be the largest musical unit in the history of the Saratoga Flag Day parade,” Gathen added. “It will be an event that everyone will want to see.”
Barbara Thomas of the Saratoga County League of Women Voters (at podium) addressing the Board of Supervisors. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
BALLSTON SPA – On Tuesday, within earshot of commands to “do your job” from the public seating area, Saratoga County Commissioner of Elections Roger Schiera said he supported the supervisors in standing firmly against a state proposal to mandate early voting countywide, as well as automatic voter registration in Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices.
For the third item of its 2018 Legislative Program, the Board of Supervisors indicated support for “increased voter participation” but also opposition to a pending state law for early voting and automatic DMV registration.
“Early voting has been studied and it has not increased voter turnout in the states that permit it,” the supervisors wrote in the program summary. “In addition to the difficulty in administering an early voter program, the additional costs associated with staffing polling locations and renting polling space for weekend voting is problematic.”
The summary continues, “Automatic voter registration through DMV will lead to confusion because voters will not know whether or where they are registered to vote,” and predicts that individuals with “no intention of voting” will sign the forms.
It adds: “The material influx of voters will also require creation of new election districts that will drive the incremental election costs of inspectors, voting machines and ballot printing.”
Barbara Thomas, representing the Saratoga County League of Women Voters, urged the supervisors to “strike” the related measure “from your legislative agenda.”
Thomas and Saratoga Unites Executive Vice President Nicole Clarke were among about a half-dozen area residents who opposed the supervisors on the matter.
Board Chairman Edward Kinowski then invited Schiera to the podium for a response to the residents’ concerns.
Schiera said that Saratoga County supervisors are “entitled to express an opinion” to the state. Based on preliminary estimates, he explained, implementing the state law would cost the county between $800,000 and $1 million each year.
“It’s a very expensive gamble,” Schiera said, based on “inconclusive evidence” that early voting and automatic DMV registrations have proven to be effective.
Saratoga Springs Supervisors Tara Gaston and Matthew Veitch were the only two board members in favor of an amendment to remove the item from the legislative program. The board eventually passed all 15 items in the program.
Clifton Park Supervisor Philip Barrett expressed disbelief that so many residents showed up to oppose the county’s resolution. Barrett said no supervisor ever indicated to him that she or he favored “restricting voter access.”
“This is a bad proposal,” insisted Hadley Supervisor Arthur Wright, noting how state officials have proposed $7 million of funding in 2019 to assist counties, but how they may also deny any funds in future budgets.
If that happens, Wright said, it turns into another “unfunded state mandate.”
“We’re doing our diligence for the taxpayers of Saratoga County,” he concluded.