City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
BALLSTON SPA — During its monthly meeting, held Nov. 21 at the county complex in Ballston Spa, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors accepted $426,000 from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and approved an agreement with Shelters of Saratoga that will see those funds used for S.O.S. expenses to operate this winter’s Code Blue shelter in Saratoga Springs.
The emergency cold-weather Code Blue shelter will this year, for the first time, be located at the former Grand Union Motel at 120 South Broadway, in Saratoga Springs.
Motivated to action in the wake of the death of a city woman exposed to a winter’s elements on a December night in 2013, a temporary homeless emergency shelter was launched in Saratoga Springs that Christmas Eve at St. Peter’s Parish Center. The Code Blue shelter has found temporary homes across the city in the years since during wintertime.
Of the $426,000 the State is sending to Saratoga County, the Board of Supervisors recommended up to $399,979 be spent in contract with S.O.S. for expenses associated with sheltering the homeless during this fall and winter season, and that any additional costs up to $26,021 may be used by the Department of Social Services for potential costs incurred for sheltering individuals or families not otherwise eligible for emergency housing and not able to be housed at the Code Blue Shelter.
2024 County Budget Proposal Tops $400 Million; Public Hearing Dec. 6, Plan to Adopt Dec. 13
A public hearing on the revised tentative 2024 Saratoga County Budget will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 6, at the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 40 McMaster St., Ballston Spa.
More than $1.5 million approved for work at county animal shelter
The County Board approved the acceptance of a near $1.5 million bid proposal from the John W. Danforth Company of Clifton Park for work to be conducted at the Saratoga County Animal Shelter.
The work relates to the mechanical construction of the HVAC Phase 1 project at the county animal shelter. The $1,495,890 was the lowest bid the county had received.
The Board additionally approved an agreement with B & B Premier Contracting, LLC of Hudson Falls, for work relating to the electrical construction of the HVAC Phase 1 project at the animal shelter at a cost of up to $84,000, and an agreement with DiGesare Mechanical Incorporated of Schenectady, for plumbing construction related to the same project at a cost not to exceed $57,000.
County Sheriff’s Office agreement to provide additional police services in Malta, Clifton Park, Halfmoon, Wilton
A contract extension was approved with the Town of Malta through 2024 for additional police services to be provided by the Sheriff’s Office. The agreement calls for one patrol from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., and one patrol 4 p.m. – midnight, seven days a week.
The contract, at $326,580.66, includes reimbursement by the Town of Malta for all County expenses including salaries, benefits, training, all transportation expenses and patrol cars.
Additional agreements were also separately approved with the towns of Clifton Park (2 patrols, 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. & 4 p.m. – midnight, 7 days a week at a town cost just over $653,000); Halfmoon (1 patrol, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tues.-Sun., and 4 p.m.-midnight Tues.-Sat. at just over $259,000), and Wilton (1 patrol, 8 a.m. -4 p.m. Mon.-Fri., just over $125,000).
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The message is simple: Do something fun, get healthy and get rewarded in exchange for your efforts.
“It’s a No Excuses – Just Start” clinic, says program coordinator Billy Yaiser. “And this is something everyone can do.”
How it works: participants sign up in advance and attend one clinic a week for about an hour at a time, where low-impact physical activity games will be on the agenda. Attendees earn points for their attendance, and those reward points earn certificates redeemable at area eateries or stores.
The program is anticipated to begin in mid-January and Yaiser is eyeing the Saratoga Springs recreation facility on Vanderbilt Avenue as the program staging ground where a flexible schedule of events are expected to be held weekday nights and Sundays.
The pre-holiday season is an appropriate time to be thinking about some physical activity in the immediate post-holiday, Yaiser says.
“You go at your own pace, and it will give you a little cardio without killing you,” he says with a laugh. “Also, a portion of the proceeds will go to fund programs for disabled community members,” says Yaiser, who as founder of Second Chance Sports has helped coordinate events and fitness therapy clinics across the state for several decades, as well as teaching sports to the mentally and physically disabled.
Each clinic session can host about a dozen people. Activities will help with hand-eye coordination and balance, and the physical activity involved is something anyone can do, regardless of age or physical condition, Yaiser says.
For more information about sign-ups and clinic times call or text Yaiser 518-226-5888. Everyone who signs up will receive a special Saratoga present that can’t be purchased anywhere else, Yaiser said.
BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County Law & Finance Committee approved the distribution of $50,000 to the city of Saratoga Springs for the reconfiguration of the Woodlawn Avenue Parking Lot and Garage entrance on Connolly Way, and the distribution of $25,000 to Saratoga PRIDE is in support of the Rainbow Garden Club.
Law and Finance Committee approval is required for a partial distribution of funds for projects identified by the Supervisors of Saratoga Springs.
The motion was made by Saratoga Springs County Supervisor and Law & Finance Committee member Matt Veitch. Law & Finance Committee member and Wilton Town Supervisor John Lant cast the lone vote against.
“Regarding the Saratoga County Discretionary Funds disbursement that Supervisor Veitch and myself have, we will be donating $25,000 to Saratoga PRIDE specifically for the purpose of queer-use programming offered in Saratoga Springs,” city Supervisor Tara Gaston said.
“They partner currently with the Saratoga YMCA and Pitney Farms as well as the Unitarian Universalist Church and Create Studios – all in Saratoga Springs. This will allow them to broaden and to provide additional programming for our youth that fall under the queer umbrella in the city.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A ceremonial groundbreaking was staged in August 2022 atop the lands where the city’s long-awaited fire station no. 3 would be built. Thirteen months later, an unexpected ground-breaking of sorts was discovered that will push the official opening of the Henning Road fire station into the new year.
“We have some good news, and we have some bad news,” Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino said, regarding the status of Fire Station No. 3.
“The good news is the training facility portion of Fire Station 3 is being used, even as we speak,” Montagnino said. A simulated Ladder Rescue component built into the apparatus bays provides a training area for firefighters, allowing them to train in the city and readily available to respond to any calls.
The bad news - “a minor hiccup that’s being taken care of,” the commissioner said, involves cracks in the concrete pads that lead to the apparatus bays in both the front and back of the station building that need to be remedied.
Concrete in the ‘aprons’ leading to the apparatus bays was poured in May 2023. Cracks were discovered in September and tests conducted one month later. “It was determined they are not surface cracks, but rather go all the way through the eight inches of concrete that form the apron,” Montagnino said. There are “several competing theories” regarding what may have caused the slabs to fail that include everything from waterproofing issues to the depth of the reinforcement bars.
The city’s two currently existing stations are located in the downtown district, and on the west side.
The development of a third station followed a generation’s worth of false starts, hard stops, floated land-swaps and a lawsuit. The Henning Road fire station will improve emergency response to the eastern plateau in Saratoga Springs specifically, as well as provide added coverage for the city in general.
Contractors are slated to begin remedying the situation this week, at no cost to the city, with work estimated to be completed in mid-December. That will be followed by a curing period of approximately four weeks before a heavy load may be imposed, effectively pushing the timeline of completion to January.
Town of Ballston
Supervisor: Eric Connolly (R) ran unopposed in Nov. 2023 election.
Town Board Meetings - 6:30 p.m. on the 2nd and last Tuesdays of every month. Meetings at Town Hall, 323 Charlton Road, Ballston Spa.
2024 Preliminary Budget: $13.98 million total appropriation.
Next Town Board agenda meeting: 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
Geography, General Information, as provided by the town on its official website. A Ballston Spa or Ballston Lake mailing address does not necessarily mean that you live in the Town of Ballston. You may live in the Town of Ballston, Charlton, Clifton Park, Milton, or Malta. If you live in the Village of Ballston Spa you also live in either the Town of Ballston or Milton.
Village of Ballston Spa:
Mayor: Frank Rossi (R) ran unopposed in Nov. 2023 election.
Village government is headed by the Mayor and four Trustees. Together they form the local legislative body, the Board of Trustees.
Meetings are held at 7 p.m. the 2nd & 4th Mondays of each month, in the Ballston Spa Public Library Community Room. Next meeting: 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 27
Town of Wilton
Town Supervisor: Incumbent Supervisor John Lant (R,C) received 1,799 votes, challenger Toni Sturm (D) received 1,494 votes in Nov. 2023 election.
Town Board Meetings: 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. Meetings at the Wilton Town Hall, 22 Traver Road, Wilton.
Next Town Board meeting: 7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 7.
The Town Board is comprised of an elected Supervisor serving a two-year term and four elected councilmen each serving four-year terms.
2024 adopted budget: $10.46 million.
Hot Topic: Proposed redevelopment of the Wilton Mall, considering the development of nearly 400 apartment units and townhomes at the site of the mall’s former Bon Ton location.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — City Mayor-Elect John Safford announced this week he has selected Joanne Kiernan for the position of Deputy Mayor of Saratoga Springs.
Kiernan, the Republican-endorsed candidate for Commissioner of Finance in 2021, has served as a business advisor and accountant for a variety of local businesses, and also served 9 years on the Saratoga Springs School Board.
Safford, running on the Republican Party line, secured the two-year term to begin Jan. 1, 2024 with 3,752 votes, besting incumbent Ron Kim (D, WF) – 3,172 votes, and independent party challenger Chris Mathiesen – 1,420 votes, according to Election Day tallies posted by the Saratoga County BOE.
“I am proud to announce Joanne as my Deputy-Mayor,” Safford said, in a statement. “I am humbled by the interest shown by so many applicants interested in serving alongside me and thank them for their interest. Joanne is a proven leader and I know she will serve the office of the Mayor and the citizens of Saratoga Springs well”The mayor is chief executive officer and official representative of Saratoga Springs and counts as one vote on the five-person City Council.
Each of the five council members is charged with appointing a deputy to serve their department, and each deputy serves at the pleasure of, and not longer than, the term of the Council member making the deputy’s appointment.
“I am excited to get to work for the people of Saratoga Springs and look forward to hitting the ground running with Mayor-Elect Safford and the rest of the City Council,” Kiernan said.
JoAnne Kiernan for Finance transferred $1,000 to the Safford for Mayor 2023 campaign, according to NYS Board of Elections Oct. 27 disclosure reports.
SARATOGA COUNTY — The 46-year-old local man suspected of abducting a 9-year-old girl in September was indicted by a Saratoga County grand jury.
Craig N. Ross Jr., was charged with kidnapping in the first-degree, a felony, shortly after being taken into custody in early October. Ross was arraigned at Milton Town Court and sent to Saratoga County Correctional Facility without bail.
An arraignment on the grand jury indictment is scheduled to take place Nov. 17 when any potential additional charges are anticipated to be made known.
The 9-year-old girl went missing Sept. 30 while on a bike ride in Moreau Lake State Park.
The Oct. 2 arrest followed the issue of an AMBER alert, and the discovery of a ransom note left in the family mailbox of the abducted girl’s home, according to authorities. Fingerprints on the letter were entered into the New York State database and a match was made involving a DWI in 1999 in Saratoga Springs.
The subsequent investigation led authorities to a camper where the girl was located safe and in good health by state police, and Ross taken into custody, authorities said.
BALLSTON SPA — Saratoga County officials have proposed a $411 million spending plan for 2024. The tentative budget marks a $32.7 million increase compared to this year’s approved budget and highlights 8% decrease in the property tax rate.
“It is a $411 million budget for 2024,” said city Supervisor Matt Veitch, who last week was re-elected to a ninth two-year term, which begins in 2024.
“It’s going to have an 8% property tax rate cut – keeping it under the state tax cap - and it’s going to put us at $1.95 per $1,000 assessed value. In the time that I’ve been supervisor, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it that low, so, good for the taxpayers, you get a little bit of a tax break from Saratoga County,” Veitch said.
The county sales tax revenue projection for 2024 is $165 million - a decrease of $5 million compared with expected 2023 revenues, and real property taxes revenues is estimated at about $72 million, approximately $2.5 million higher than 2023 amended budget totals.
County Administrator Steve Bulger said the county plans on making significant investments in broadband, highway, and other infrastructure improvements in 2024.
Some 2024 Tentative Budget Investments for Saratoga County Residents Include:
• A new program, Teams, that will provide $350,000 in total funding to towns and team sports programs throughout the county that support the health and well-being of children and youth.
• A $2 million broadband expansion project looks to provide high-speed broadband expansion to the towns of Corinth, Day, Edinburg, Hadley, and Providence, utilizing federal ARPA funds.
• Preserving open space and providing outdoor recreational opportunities for residents through investments in our Farmland and Open Space Acquisition and fish stocking programs and by increasing funding for our Local Assistance to County Trails grant program. ($575,000)
• Continued investments to address the opioid epidemic including utilizing Opioid Settlement Funds to create programs and provide services to connect families, veterans, and underserved populations with community-based treatment, rehabilitation, recovery, and support services related to opioid and substance use disorders. ($150,000).
• Emergency Services communications upgrades and a new Fire Training Tower in support of volunteer firefighters throughout Saratoga County. (more than $3 million).
• Robust investments in public safety, including investments in personnel, technology, and equipment for the Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Probation Department, Public Defender’s Department, and Conflict Defender’s Office. (nearly $57 million).
Budget workshops are ongoing through November. “As we go forward we’ll see if there’s anything that needs changing or updating,” Veitch said.
A public hearing will take place at the county complex in Ballston Spa in early December, and a special board meeting will be held one week later to potentially adopt the budget for 2024.
The tentative 2024 budget is on view at: www.saratogacountyny.gov/2024-tentative-budget/.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs Planning Board announced it will meet 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30 at City Hall. Applications under consideration that may be part of the night’s agenda include:
-South Broadway Treehouse Brewing Special Use Permit for an outdoor dining and micro-production of alcohol associated with an eating and drinking establishment.
Tree House Brewing Company has submitted plans to build a brewery, taproom, and “expansive indoor and outdoor experience” across the street from the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on Route 9. It will be the brewer’s sixth location overall and first outside of New England.
The company said it expects to create at least sixty jobs and generate $30 to $40 million in economic activity.
• A Special Use permit and a Site Plan Review is sought for a private/social club proposed at 118 and 121-125 Woodlawn Ave.
Saratoga TODAY first reported on the venture last June when it was detailed the club’s anticipated operation hours of 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, when it would provide light meals and bar service for its approximately 200 members, as well as a place for members “to relax and unwind after a day at the office,” according to documents filed with the city.
The building at 118 is located on the corner of Woodlawn Avenue and Van Dam Street, just west of the convergence of Broadway/Route 9 and the Saratoga Hilton. For more than a century, the property was owned by various religious operations and operated as a religious house of worship, The existing gravel lot at 122-125 would be upgraded and consist of 22 parking spaces.
•12 Ballston Ave., Chipotle. Site Plan Review of a proposed 2,344 square foot restaurant with outdoor seating and associated site work to be located on lands that was formerly the Starting Gate Bar and Grill, which has been vacant since 2015.
•400 Louden Road, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs. Special Use permit for a place of worship is sought by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation.
UUCSS is currently under contract to purchase just over 5 acres on Louden Road for the construction of the new church. Just over three of those acres are in “conservancy“ – not allowing for development – leaving about 1.93 acres of currently vacant land where the proposed two-story, 8,840 square foot church would be developed.
The primary development area is located in Saratoga Springs with the road frontage being in the town of Wilton. The proposal also includes parking availability for 64 cars.
•126 West Ave. Site Plan Review of a proposed mixed-use development on West Avenue, that would include office and residential units. The initial Site Plan application (including PUD) was submitted to the city of Saratoga Springs in October 2021, and called for a mixed-use development consisting of four townhouses, office and apartment. Seven new illustrations were submitted to the city of Saratoga Springs on Nov, 13, 2023.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The City Council gathered Monday morning to set a public hearing for the proposed amended 2024 City Budget.
That hearing, which enables the public to express opinions directly to councilmembers regarding the proposed $61.27 million spending plan, will take place 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28.
By rule, the council must vote to approve the budget by Nov. 30, or the $60.5 million spending plan previously submitted by the finance commissioner will become law.