Marissa Gonzalez

Marissa Gonzalez

Thursday, 25 April 2019 12:07

It's O-Fish-ial, Spring is Here

Photos by SuperSource Media, LLC. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Once a year children and their parents gather with empty buckets around trucks filled with hundreds of Brown Trout to stock Geyser Creek at Saratoga Spa State Park. The trout were transported all the way from Van Hornesville Fish Hatchery, roughly 60 miles west of Saratoga Springs.

According to Alli Schweizer, environmental educator at the park, fish stocking helps keep a healthy fish population in the creek. Fish stocking is the act of releasing fish into a river, lake or ocean, to supplement or create a population where they do not exist. Typically the method of fish stocking includes a hose-like mechanism to release the fish into the body of water.

“These guys actually are the trout that fisherman want to fish for,” says Schweizer. She says the brown trout are macroinvertebrates, which means they eat small insects.

“We really like to involve the public, getting children involved in anything outdoors is crucial to ensure environmental endeavors, keeping our parks for the people,” added Schweizer.

Thursday, 18 April 2019 12:34

Saratoga Winery Expansion on Rt. 29

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Winery is currently in the process of building an addition to the establishment in order to accommodate more guests as well as indoor weddings. The winery sought permissions to build through the town of Milton.

The Saratoga Winery serves wine made from local grapes and serves food as well. The restaurant already has indoor and outdoor seating. However, outdoor seating is limited during the winter months. “More recently there’s been a need for it. We started doing more weddings a couple years ago, so it has really become a need within the past couple of years... It’s just kind of coming to fruition because we’ve been able to get it approved by the town and just certain things had to fall in place before we could really take the plunge with it,” said Amy Greth, Marketing Manager of the Saratoga Winery.

The addition is barn style and was built by the Amish. According to Greth, the barn is a large open space with high ceilings that is roughly 2,400 square feet. The structure will replace tents used in inclement weather during events at the winery. Construction began at the end of February and will be completed at the end of June.

BALLSTON SPA — The Town of Ballston Spa is responding to a group of residents going by “Citizens for a Clean Environment” that have been opposed to the sitting and operation of the Dolomite asphalt plant in the town since 2011. The asphalt plant is located in Curtis Industrial Park at 831, Route 67 in Ballston Spa.

After lengthy deliberation and a $4 million lawsuit against the town by Dolomite in 2016, the planning board granted conditional approval to the plant and Dolomite dropped the lawsuit. Citizens for a Clean Environment are saying that important conditions have still not been met by the plant. Major concerns included the hours of operation on the weekend, Route 67 improvements, improvements to the Zim Smith Trail and the size of the silos on the plant. Other concerns of the Citizens for a Clean Environment site the visual aspects of the plant, the smell, traffic and noise as well as the air pollutants.

In Ballston’s response, made by the town’s attorney Debra Kaelin, all concerns were addressed and were in favor of the concerned citizens. The town agreed to not allow Dolomite to operate unless a route 67 turning lane was installed and Zim Smith trail signage was made, all before April 30.

“Last month, the Building Department and I sat down with representatives from Dolomite to review and emphasize the importance of compliance with the conditions of their agreement with the Town,” said Kaelin.

“It was made clear that Dolomite must comply with all conditions. Dolomite’s representatives agreed and communicated to the Town they want to be good members of our community. All parties are working together to make sure the plant’s operation is handled within the confines of the courts’ decisions.”

However, Claudia Braymer, attorney for the Citizens for a Clean Environment, maintains the 70-foot silos, the turning lane at route 67 and the Zim Smith rail signage were supposed to be in compliance before Dolomite began operations. According to Braymer and planning board, the silos at Dolomite asphalt plant were supposed to be 40-feet in height.

Ballston’s town board, building and zoning department determined that the silos are equipment and they were not subject to the maximum height requirements.

“Those silos are much more visible than the project elements that the Planning Board reviewed and approved. The 70-foot silos, plus the industrial plumes from the asphalt plant, have a negative visual impact on the community,” Braymer wrote.

“The hoppers (silos) being that large give them the ability of producing more asphalt which is one of the things the planning board strenuously limited them on their production capacity; and everyone in the community was worried about them just becoming a massive production operation,” she said.

“The lawsuit settlements still says they have to comply with all of the other requirements in the code and obtain any other necessary permits... Well, my argument is they need the variance from the ZBA and they need to go back to the planning board to get approval to for those 70- foot-high silos.”

Thursday, 11 April 2019 12:34

Saratoga Olive Oil Co. Plans Expansion

MOREAU — Saratoga Olive Oil Co. is seeking to convert a swimming pool contractor facility to a distribution center and new retail location. The facility is located at 1341 Route 9 in Moreau. According to Jim Martin, Zoning Administrator for the town of Moreau, the facility will also have office space as well.

Chad, Barbara and Clint Braidwood are the owners of Saratoga Olive Oil Co. which sells olive oils, balsamic vinegars and spices through their brick and mortar stores as well as through their website. The flagship store, in Saratoga Springs opened in 2011 and two other stores followed in Burlington Vermont and Lake Placid.

The planned distribution center was owned by Jabro Development LLC and was purchased by them in 2016 for $326,000. The facility lies on nearly two acres of land on the Route 9 corridor in Moreau.

“It’s an adaptive re-use of an existing site and building, which is good. The building over there seems to be most suited to what their needs are in terms of space,” said Martin.

A planning board meeting will take place on Monday April 15, at 7 p.m. at the Moreau Office Complex located at 351 Reynolds Rd. in Moreau. In the meeting the plans will be subject to a public hearing, which is typical for development in this part of Route 9, according to Martin.

WILTON — In late January asbestos was found in the former home of The Saratogian in Saratoga Springs. An anticipated brewery and coffee shop, Whitman Brewing Company announced in early January that it had planned to use the historical spot to house this new venture. However, at the end of the demolition process, the asbestos was discovered.

Whitman Brewing Company was slated to open in June of 2019 but has been forced to postpone the opening for fall of this year. As a back-up plan, Whitman Brewing applied for a minor site application in the town of Wilton for a restaurant and brewing company on Perry Road. The property was approximately three acres. Fortunately, building owner Frank Parillo was able to assure that operations will remain at the Old Saratogian building.

“It has been an interesting journey rehabilitating the Old Saratogian building to date. In January there was asbestos found in the building unexpectedly after demolition was almost complete, rendering our project in limbo. The outcome was stretching beyond our comfort zone and we began exploring other viable options in the event the building remediation would prohibit us from moving forward on a reasonable timeline. We owe it to the employees we currently have, including our brewer, to explore all avenues. I’m happy to report with the help of Sonny Bonacio and the building owner Frank Parillo, we were able to find a positive resolution and get the project back on track with a projected fall opening,” said Shawna Jenks, the Director of Operations at Whitman Brewing.

According to the Asbestos Control Bureau of New York, the agency that oversees the reduction of toxic hazards associated with asbestos fiber during the reconstruction or demolition of buildings, in the old Saratogian building 17,000 square feet of friable asbestos was found. Friable asbestos means that it can easily crumble, and that the asbestos will be released during things like demolition.

The building is currently listed on the department of labor’s active asbestos project database. Phase one of the asbestos removal process officially began on April 1, and is expected to end in October. According to bureau documents, the contract dollar amount was $110,000 and it was paid in full. Classical Environmental Inc. based in Latham is the contracting agency.

Developer Frank Parillo bought the one-acre property in 2012 and paid $2.6 million. He still owns it. Parillo also owns the Wilton Travel Plaza truck stop and two marinas on Lake George. He is a partner in the Hampton Inn hotel and High Rock condominium complex in Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga Strike Zone.

CORRECTION: In the 4/12 issue of Saratoga TODAY, it was published that Whitman Brewing had plans to move operations to Wilton. The plans in Wilton was a back-up plan and operations will remain at the old Saratogian building in Saratoga Springs. 

Friday, 05 April 2019 11:21

Toga Heritage Diversifies

SARATOGA SPRINGS — TOGA HERITAGE, a popular lifestyle brand and purveyor of fine goods located at 398 Broadway in Saratoga Springs is introducing a new kind of heritage to the Spa City.

Saratoga Springs native and owner of TOGA HERITAGE, Deborah DePasquale, is bringing a collection of products to her store to celebrate her Scottish heritage. The line will be launched on National Tartan Day. Tartan is a series of patterns consisting of crossed vertical and horizontal lines in different colors; it is also known as plaid in the United States; however, the print originated in Scotland. Depasquale’s maternal side of her family is Scottish.

“National Tartan Day was established in 1998 in the United States to recognize Scottish- American heritage and it’s widely celebrated in other parts of the country,” said DePasquale. “Introducing this nationally recognized day and Scottish culture helps diversify the Capital Region. Events this year are only stepping stones for a larger celebration in the works.”

Tartan historically represents different Scottish clans, but DePasquale’s tartan design is representative of her Scottish heritage while honoring the spirit of her hometown of Saratoga Springs by using colors reminiscent of the Spa City. Almost all the items sold in TOGA HERITAGE will now also be sold with the tartan print.

In line with National Tartan Day, TOGA HERITAGE has several new product lines featuring DePasquale’s tartan design, including a new jewelry line designed in collaboration with Skidmore grad, Samantha Levine of Auburn Jewelry. DePasquale will introduce future collaborative projects including Fritelli and Lockwood of the Beekman Street Arts District and plans to dedicate a section within her shop to local weavers.

From concept to completion the entire process of developing this collection took two years. DePasquale had to register her tartan, in the Scottish Register of Tartans; in doing so, she had to assure her pattern was different to every tartan in the registry.

“We didn’t want to select just any tartan, which we could have done, we could have used others in the database,” DePasquale said. 

“But that’s not what we do... Here at TOGA HERITAGE, we really do come from a foundation of loving where you live, honoring where you come from, celebrate where you are and look forward to where you’re going so for me that tartan had to be part of the story. To continue to tell the story, which the story of my company is me... All of my products are inspired by my experiences here growing up, so that tartan could not be any different: it had to be impactful.”

As part of National Tartan Day, flags with DePasquale’s own Scottish registered tartan design will be hung along Broadway from April 2 through April 16. New York State Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner will present DePasquale with a proclamation recognizing April 6 as Tartan Day in the state of New York. City of Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly’s office had previously presented a proclamation to DePasquale recognizing April 6 as Tartan Day in the City. The week will conclude with a public open house at TOGA HERITAGE from Noon to 4 p.m. on National Tartan Day, April 6.

BALLSTON SPA — Local resident of Ballston Spa, Navy veteran, wife and mother of three Heather Hiegl will open the doors of her new business Paint-n-Gogh on April 5 with a grand opening and paint and sip class.

Paint-n-Gogh, located at 114 Milton Avenue in the Village of Ballston Spa, aims to offer a creative outlet for adults and children. It will host family paint classes in the afternoon, paint and sip classes in the evening and private painting parties for all ages. Hiegl will guide guests step-by-step through their paintings, and plans to focus on fun with music, games and prizes.

Since she was a child, Hiegl has had a passion for art. Her dream was to be an art teacher. Upon graduating high school, however, she chose to serve

her country and enlisted in the Navy. Her career there would be cut short after Hiegl suffered a stroke during her third year of enlistment. The Veteran’s Affairs helped her transition into the next chapter of her life by sending her to college where she studied Computer-Aided Drafting and Design. She then wentontoworkforDepartment of Defense contractors. At the age of 35, she returned to school and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Business. Now, she’s ready to make her childhood dream a reality and teach art.

“I’m so happy to offer a space for people of any age to express their creativity,” said Hiegl. “This is a beautiful community with wonderful people, and I feel lucky to have the opportunity to become a bigger part of it.”

Painting themes will range from cute animals to beautiful nature scenes, cityscapes, pop culture and more. Friday’s grand opening will feature a ribbon cutting with the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association at 6 p.m. and a llama paint and sip class at 7 p.m., with more classes to follow over the weekend.

“I feel a true excitement to see what people will create and the memories that will be made,” said Hiegl. “I’m ready to get this adventure started.”

For more information call 518-879-6869 or visit online at

SCHUYLERVILLE — The Schuylerville Garden Club celebrated their 80th Anniversary at their March monthly meeting. To commemorate the days of 1938 when the club was formed, members wore vintage clothing including hats, white gloves and even some fur stoles striving to wear what the original members might have worn to the first meetings. The celebration took place at the home of Marilyn Park with a covered dish lunch, following the early tradition of meeting in members’ homes.

The club was organized on March 24, 1938. There were 9 charter members with Clyde Maybee serving as founding president. The club became federated in 1951 as a member of the National Garden Clubs and New York State Federated Garden Clubs, District IV. The meetings were held on the second Wednesday of each month as they still are today. In the 1940s, according to the meeting minutes, Victory Gardens, defense bonds and war stamps were items discussed. “War stamps” were given as club prizes for winning a floral contest. The club now has 40 members from Schuylerville and beyond who all take an active part in meeting the goals of the club.

Through the years, the Schuylerville Garden Club has taken on many projects including village and town planting, an annual flower show that has been held since 1938. The club also holds a plant sale, maintains the herb garden at the Schuyler House and a Blue Star Memorial, holiday parties for residents of Schuylerville Manor, making holiday favors for Seniors, organizing a pre-school project and decorating Holiday wreaths that are hung on public buildings.

Donations given by the club go to Dollars for Scholars, Schuylerville Community Theatre Festival of Trees, DEC Camperships, Nature Conservancy, World Gardening, Schuylerville Food and Emergency Relief, a book for the local library, a library Family Outreach program and baskets of flowers from members’ gardens for the Schuylerville High School graduation.

This year the annual flower show will be held on July 13 and July 14. The club plans to have an educational display as well as showcase photos and memorabilia from the club throughout the years. For more information visit

Friday, 29 March 2019 10:51

Smash Your Way to Satisfaction

MALTA — A new business called the Relief Room, slated to open on March 29, is a first for Saratoga County. The Relief Room offers a space for people to destroy junk material as a vessel to relieve, stress, anger or sadness in a natural way. It is also open to individuals, groups or just for fun. The Relief Room is located at 2381 on Route 9 in Malta. 

“We’re surprised at how invigorating it really is. Something about smashing a bottle with a crowbar and it explodes is a lot of fun,” said Lisa Birmingham, co-owner of  the Relief Room. Birmingham owns the Relief Room with her fiancé Steve Cusano.

ReliefRoom1Owners Steve Cusano and Lisa Birmingham.

On a trip to the Philippines, Birmingham saw people throwing and breaking plates in a rage room, which are common in Asia.

“I tried it out and found it was a lot of fun so I ended up a few years later as general manager of an optical practice and that’s when the idea hit me. I would pay money to go back there and do it because I was having a terrible day at work and I’m like, ‘you know what, it’s actually a hell of an idea to bring it here,’ because there is nothing like that in this area,” Birmingham said. 

Patrons suit up in coveralls, hard-hats, full-face shields, and cut-resistant gloves and enter the “smash rooms” to break junk items such as televisions, bottles and glass with crowbars, baseball bats, frying pans and hammers. 

“Quite a few of the newer trends of therapists and psychologists look at it as very cathartic because people have trouble communicating verbally their emotions and what’s going on inside, and this is more of an instinctual way to get it out,” Birmingham said. 

“So this space I created, really just honors it but honor it in a fun way so that way you can still express yourself without having to really talk about it,” she added. 

Birmingham maintains that she will have literature and resources for mental health because she still believes that people that suffer from mental illness should seek out traditional medicine and therapy.

Another core mission of the Relief Room is to reduce landfill contributions. Birmingham is sourcing inventory for smashing through junk removal companies. 

“What were doing with all of the broken pieces is.... we hold workshops every week to teach people how to take the broken trash and turn it into mosaics and wall decor.”

ReliefRoomArtArtwork made from broken material from the Relief Room.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) Board of Directors announced on March 26 the unanimous appointment of David O’Rourke as NYRA CEO and President. O’Rourke, who has been serving as Interim NYRA CEO since Jan. 23, will assume the role effective immediately.

“David has made significant and lasting contributions to NYRA since he joined the organization more than a decade ago,” said NYRA Board Chairman Michael Del Giudice.

“He possesses broad expertise in nearly every facet of the industry, enjoys deep respect among his NYRA colleagues and industry peers, and understands how the sport and the business will continue to evolve in the future. His combination of skills and obvious leadership ability made this an easy choice and we congratulate David on this appointment.”

O’Rourke, 45, first joined NYRA as Director of Financial Planning in 2008 before becoming Vice President for Corporate Development in 2010. In 2013, he was appointed Chief Revenue

Officer and Senior Vice President. In that role, O’Rourke was responsible for NYRA’s business development strategies across a range of disciplines including industry relations, simulcast markets and contracts, television strategy, advance deposit wagering (ADW) operations, and capital projects.

During his tenure, O’Rourke has played a signature role in spearheading the development and growth of NYRA Bets, NYRA’s national ADW platform currently available in 30 states. He has also helped shepherd the dramatic expansion of NYRA’s flagship television broadcasts, Belmont Park Live and Saratoga Live, which will feature live coverage nearly every race day in 2019 from Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.

“I am honored to have been selected by the Board of Directors to lead NYRA during this exciting time in its storied history,” said O’Rourke.

“We have made tremendous progress as an organization over the past several years, but there is still much work to be

done to continue to grow our racing product during an era of unprecedented competition and change within the sports and entertainment industry. I thank the NYRA Board for this opportunity and will continue to rely upon the outstanding talent within our organization as we work closely with industry partners and stakeholders to build upon our successes.”

O’Rourke is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), the advocacy group comprised of racetrack operators and industry stakeholders charged with increasing the popularity and integrity of the sport. He is also a member of the Saratoga Race Course Local Advisory Board. He earned an MBA from Tulane University and is a graduate of Richard Stockton College.

Prior to joining NYRA, O’Rourke was a member of the Zolfo Cooper and Capstone Advisory Group Corporate Restructuring Practices, specializing in multiple operational and financial reorganization efforts in the real estate development, gaming, auto manufacturing, retailing and shipping industries. He also served as Vice President of Operations at Datek Online and was instrumental in helping the company develop into the world’s fourth largest online brokerage.

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