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Displaying items by tag: Ryan Fontaine
A Warm Winter: Weather's Impact on Our Pocket
Pain In The Pothole
City, County Try To Catch Up On Road Patch Up
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Take it from a person in a position to know:
“This winter was definitely worse than last year, which happened to be the worst in a long time.”
So stated Commissioner of Public Works for Saratoga County Keith Manz regarding the current pothole outbreak through our region. Of course, anyone need only drive a couple of blocks to conclude the same thing.
We are bouncing around, ruining alignments and losing hubcaps all over the place – increasing the stress of driving under less than ideal conditions. One who experienced this firsthand is lifelong Saratoga Springs resident Anne Proulx.
“In the beginning of February we were heading to Wal-Mart along Weibel Avenue. I made a turn and – boom – right into a hole.” She said. “I thought I was just running through some water, but I had no idea that the water was covering a huge gap in the road until I looked at it closely later on. I didn’t learn until I returned home that I had lost my second hubcap of the winter.”
“The road in front of Saratoga TODAY (Case Street) is an absolute mess because of potholes every winter. I called and left a message for the head of the DPW a few months ago but never heard back or saw any progress.” Said Chad Beatty, Publisher of Saratoga TODAY.
“This road has been an ongoing issue. It’s ironic because the road leads into Fasig-Tipton. They do $20+ million in horse sales on a single summer weekend but there is a low budget road out front all year.” Beatty said.
Generally, winter potholes form after precipitation permeates the pavement, causing the soil and sub-base layers underneath to freeze and expand leading to cracks in the pavement. As thawing occurs, sub-base and soil recede, often leaving a hole underneath the cracked pavement, which breaks further under the weight of vehicular traffic.
There you have pothole pain in a paragraph. Each pothole can deepen or widen over time as more vehicles travel over it if not repaired.
According to Manz, what makes this winter so tough is that we never really got a mid-winter thaw. “Consistent frozen ground is much worse than a typical freeze/thaw cycle,” he said. “Eventually the thawing occurs and leads to a more severe effect.”
Kathy Moran, office manager for Saratoga Springs’ Department of Public Works (DPW) said that they have three crews out each day in the city: covering Geyser Crest, Westside and Eastside. They are marking locations and a truck is dispatched to nearby asphalt providers in the city (Pompa Brothers or Palette Stone) to employ a process called “cold patch,” which is a temporary fix until repaving can occur.
Why this intermediate step? Manz explained that the ground should be above 40 degrees to properly repave the road’s blacktop. He estimates that it is about 32 degrees currently. In the short-term, the prospect is for the pothole outbreak to get worse.
“There is certainly more to come,” Manz said. “A 55-60 degree day or two will make the pavement even more pliable” as the ground thaws further. In fact, the forecast on the day this issue is published calls for a high of 62 degrees, with rain.
Moran said that the crews are aware of most pothole locations by now, but if city residents want to report a particular pothole, they are welcome to call the DPW office at (518) 587-3550 ext. 2555.
Manz said that up to four of his eight crews are consistently out each day now, rotating through the county to make pothole repairs. He also noted that the county has a repair hotline to report potholes and other road hazards – (518) 885-9020. When they receive a complaint, they dispatch a foreman to inspect the location and, if deemed necessary, will divert a crew to that spot, usually by the next day.
Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen doesn’t control the paving budget items under the city’s commission form of government, but she certainly hears about citizen’s discontent.
“We do recommend that their first call go to DPW. Many people do call us though as a secondary measure, feeling that it will lead to a quicker response and we want to be attentive to that and not give them ‘the city hall shuffle.’” She said.
Mayor Yepsen said she was pleased that some relief came from the state in the form of increased money from the Department of Transportation’s CHIPS (Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Plan) fund. A total of $40 million extra was allocated for “Extreme Winter Recovery” statewide, with the city receiving over $57,000 (Saratoga County also received over $209,000) according to the New York State Conference of Mayors website (nycom.org). This represents just under a 10 percent increase over the initial CHIPS funding levels.
The money certainly will help this region recover from the ravages of nature’s wrath this past winter, but there is likely long road ahead to getting us all “patched up,” let alone paved.
“There’s an image component, of course. You don’t want people to have a miserable experience driving around our city.” Mayor Yepsen said. “But even more important are safety issues, not to mention the potential for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in damage to our citizens’ and visitors’ vehicles.”
Candidates for Saratoga Springs Commissioners Square Off
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The first of two League of Women Voters (LWV) sponsored candidate forums at the Saratoga Springs High School Auditorium took place on Tuesday, October 22.
While the candidates articulated policy differences, the proceedings were notable for their civility and lack of rancor. This was due in large part to the firm oversight of the debate by LWV’s Barbara Thomas, who did make both the candidates and audience members adhere to strict time limits. This is notable in contrast to previous year’s candidate forums about city elections.
After a brief introduction of the ground rules by Thomas, unopposed finance commissioner candidate Michele Madigan (D, I, WF) took the podium for a statement about her accomplishments in office and vision for her next term.
This was followed by the candidates for commissioner of public works, in which incumbent Anthony “Skip” Scirocco (R,C) and challenger William J. McTygue (D, I, WF) sat side-by-side.
McTygue took issue with Scirocco’s record, citing in particular a deal to sell water to Wilton without full council approval and called for a total citywide evaluation of water resources, saying that “there is no long range water quality plan”.
Scirocco noted his accomplishments in office citing a “reversal of a generation of infrastructure neglect.”
Interestingly, these were the only candidates of the evening who were asked about Proposition 1—the pending statewide casino proposition. Both were generally in agreement that they were personally opposed to casinos, but noting if it passed the city would have to be ready for changes regardless of whether Saratoga Springs was designated as a casino site or not.
The candidates for commissioner of public safety easily had the most points of policy difference of the evening.
In his opening statement, challenger Richard C. Wirth (R, I, C) characterized the administration of incumbent Christian E. Mathiesen (D, WF) as “too Caroline Street focused while there is an uptick in crime citywide” and an atmosphere of “blame the victim” prevailed. Mathiesen responded vigorously, listing many accomplishments during his administration, both as leader of his department and on initiatives that were citywide in nature.
The candidates differed sharply on their plans for improving the fire/emergency response times on the city’s eastern plateau, as well as the need for an independent review of the recent police incident regarding Darryl Mount, Jr.
The differences between candidates for commissioner were less pronounced. Incumbent John P. Franck (D,I,WF), who is running for his fifth term, cited his “core four” platform as the guiding principles that characterized how he has and would run his office. Challenger John P. Arpei (R, C) did not directly challenge Franck on anything specific, but did say he was an advocate for more civility and cooperation in the conduct of city government.
Indeed, the accounts commissioner candidates agreed totally on two major issues. Both felt that a citywide reassessment was unnecessary and too costly, and that the current assessment level for condominiums (about 30 percent of assessed value) was too low. Franck cited his initiative in going to Saratoga County to try and develop a political coalition to change this formula. Arpei stated that the formula was imposed by downstate interests, where condos are more prevalent and therefore would be very unlikely to change.