Displaying items by tag: saratoga ny
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Two weeks into the winter season coupled with predictions that forecast freezing temperatures for most every day this month are pushing the status of the city based homeless shelter from emergency status into a near 24/7 operation.
Code Blue Saratoga, a program of Shelters of Saratoga, provides temporary unrestricted shelter during periods of hazardous winter weather - defined as 12 inches or more of snow and/or a temperature of 32 degrees or less, to include wind chill factor. Last year, the shelter was opened 28 times during the daytime hours over the course of the entire season. That number will already be eclipsed this weekend.
“The daytime temperatures are a lot lower this year,” says Code Blue Director Cheryl Ann Murphy-Parant.
Code Blue was started in December 2013 as a collaborative effort between the City of Saratoga Springs, faith-based groups, individuals and non-profit partners committed to assisting individuals who are homeless. The shelter is temporarily housed at the Soul Saving Station Church, on Henry Street.
Parant said current needs at the shelter include: milk, juices and ice tea mix; butter, sugar and coffee – regular and decaffeinated. Donated items may be dropped off at the shelter at any time. Additionally, a volunteer sign-up is listed on the organization’s website –https://www.codebluesaratoga.org/wordpress/ - where volunteers may sign up for a variety of duties.
The walk-in, emergency homeless shelter offers a hot meal, a warm and safe place to sleep and essential supplies. During the 2016-17 winter season, Code Blue housed more than 5,800 overnight stays and served 6,700 meals.
Shelters of Saratoga, which oversees Code Blue, had hoped to be operating a permanent shelter adjacent to its S.O.S. properties on Walworth Street this year after local business owner Ed Mitzen announced he would fund the costs to build the shelter and local firms Bonacio Construction and the LA Group agreed to forego any profits to keep the building development costs as low as possible.
Shortly after that announcement, however, a group of 22 residents filed a legal challenge claiming the proposed two-story building which would house about 50 beds didn’t fit into their west side neighborhood and that its development is not a permitted use within the Urban Residential Zoning District. Monday night at City Hall, the Zoning Board of Appeals is expected to discuss the matter.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – One day after being sworn in, the newly elected City Council convened for its first regular Tuesday night meeting at City Hall on Jan. 2. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the newest members of city government - Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin, Supervisor Tara Gaston and Mayor Meg Kelly, were the first to arrive.
Mayor Kelly – the 21st mayor in the city’s 102-year history and its fourth woman mayor - made six appointments to three boards: Tom Roohan was appointed chairman of the Saratoga Springs City Center Authority, Stephen “Sully” Sullivan the Authority’s vice-chair and Mark Torpey re-appointment as chairman of the Planning Board, among them.
Two residents speaking during the meeting’s public comment period. One proposed the council pursue ideas for the development of an indoor recreation facility (despite that one recently was constructed on the city’s south side); another requested specific monetary detail regarding the definition of “affordable housing.”
Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan announced the city received more than 900 property-tax prepayments (380 online and 533 in-person) totaling almost $2.9 million during the final week of the 2017 calendar year. “Hopefully, you’ll be able to take the deduction,” Madigan said. “That’s still to be determined.”
Tuesday night’s meeting ran a total of 32 minutes, which, if not an all-time record for brevity, had to be close to one. We may never see one like it again in our lifetimes.
This week at the Planning Board:
Spencer Subdivision. Belmonte Builders is proposing a 22-lot residential cluster subdivision totaling approximately 12.63 acres on property located between Arrowhead Road on the west and Kaydeross Park Road on the east. The proposed lots will vary in size from approximately 10,000 square feet to 16,700 square feet in size. As part of the proposal, approximately 5.2 acres of open space will be created - 1.1 acres located east of the proposed lots along Arrowhead Road and west of the proposed lots on Julians Way, and approximately 4.1 acres located west of Kaydeross Park Road, north of the proposed lot development. The proposed lots will be served by municipal water from the city - for which new water mains will be provided – and will be served by public sanitary sewer.
Ballston Avenue Townhouses. Ballston Ave. Partners has submitted a sketch plan for discussion regarding a proposed town house development at 96 and 116 Ballston Ave.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A robbery allegedly occurred Wednesday afternoon at the main branch of the Adirondack Trust Company bank.
Authorities were notified at about 12:20 p.m. that a white male passed a note to a teller demanding money and subsequently left the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash. No weapon was displayed.
Police describe the man as being “over 6 feet tall and having a bigger frame.” His jacket was emblazoned across the back with the “Petraccione Plumbing and Heating” company logo.
Police ask anyone with information regarding the incident to contact the Saratoga Springs Police Department at 518-584-1800 or, to remain anonymous, call 518-584-TIPS.
Two previous robbery attempts - in 2007 and in 2010 - occurred at the Broadway branch of the bank, which is located at 473 Broadway, one block from the city police station.
In July 2007, Moreau man Rick Massey handed a teller a threatening note, escaped with nearly $7,000 cash, and fled to Nashville, Tenn., where he turned himself in to police, six days after the incident.
In October 2010, a 57-year-old city man who proclaimed himself to be "a non-violent bank robber" walked into the branch and handed a note to a teller that read, "Give me all your money and God will love you." After the teller gave him nearly $7,000, he put the money back on the counter, made several incoherent statements to bank employees, and exited the bank without any money in hand. He fled on a bicycle, headed west on Church Street and was apprehended by police three blocks later.
The scene outside the Adirondack Trust Co. bank Wednesday afternoon:
SARATOGA SPRINGS - Congress Park and the Saratoga Battlefield. Ulysses S. Grant and Solomon Northup. Yaddo, the Canfield Casino and Saratoga Race Course.
Millions of viewers across the country will have the opportunity to learn about the lore and allure Saratoga has offered its locals for centuries with the premiere broadcast of a special Saratoga Springs segment airing on C-SPAN II and C-SPAN III this weekend.
The show was filmed during a multi-day visit by a C-SPAN Cities Tour crew in late September, and is presented by the cable and satellite television network as an exploration of the American Story.
The episode includes a visit to the mineral springs, a driving tour through Saratoga Springs, and conversations with local politicians, historians, horse trainers and jockeys, and Solomon Northup biographer David Fiske.
Inside the Music Room at Yaddo. The artist colony is one of several sites in and around Saratoga Springs visited by a C-SPAN crew in September. Photo: Thomas Dimopoulos
Noon, Saturday, Dec. 16: Book TV (C-SPAN2, Spectrum Channel 226). Non-fiction programming from the city includes a look at the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant as he spends his dramatic last days at his cottage, racing against time and terminal cancer to finish writing about his life. Former Albany attorney Andrew McKenna discusses his memoir, "Sheer Madness: From Federal Prosecutor to Federal Prisoner," – which details his struggles with opioid addiction.
2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17: American History TV (C-SPAN3, Spectrum channel 227). History segments include a visit to Saratoga Race Course to examine thoroughbred racing's impact on the historical identity and economy of Saratoga Springs, a tour of Saratoga National Historic Park where two battles occurred that help turn the tide of the American Revolution.
Segments will be available to view after broadcast at: www.c-span.org/citiestour.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A pair of music-centric street festivals which bookended the start and conclusion of the Saratoga racing meet for a generation are no more.
The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, main sponsors of the Hats Off and Final Stretch festivals, announced this week that it will instead feature a “Welcome Back to Racing” fan event promoting bands performing at a variety of on-site locations at bars, restaurants and hotels.
“It’s a different downtown than it was 30 years ago,” said Chamber President Todd Shimkus. “We have so many more bars and restaurants. We think a better way to spend our time and money is to promote all the different bands playing at all the different restaurants. So, instead of us closing streets and setting up bands and stages, we’re going to collectively promote everything that’s going on inside the restaurants, bars and hotels downtown.”
Last year, the festival featured five bands each night over the course of the two-day festival, down from eight bands that performed at eight different venues each night just six years earlier, and the 10 bands who performed at the free festival in 2004. At that time, there were approximately one dozen different businesses and organizations sponsoring the event along with the Chamber and the New York Racing Association.
The cost to stage the events totals more than $30,000 and while Shimkus acknowledged sponsoring entities like NYRA and others are not contributing as much as they once had in years past, he said money is not a driving force in the Chamber’s decision. “For us, it was the fact that we think there is a better alternative that is more supportive of the entire downtown.”
Shimkus also refuted some public comments that have been made, including some raised during this week’s City Council by local residents, that fears of vehicular terrorism played a role in the festival’s cancellation.
“I can absolutely guarantee you the notion of a terroristic attack had nothing to do with our decision to make this change,” Shimkus said.
The Hats Off festival, later complemented by the season-ending Final Stretch festival, was first staged in the 1990s as a way to increase crowds for the annual opening weekend of the racing season.
“NYRA came up and Ed Lewi was with them and they were discussing what they could do to build up the attendance at the races on the first and the last weekend,” recalled Joe Dalton, who ran the Saratoga County Chamber for 40 years, before retiring in 2010.
“The Chamber basically put it together – myself, and Ed Lewi. NYRA said they would put up half the money and we would raise the other half. And it went very well,” Dalton said. “It attracted people and built up the first and last week of racing, attendance-wise. It benefitted the town and NYRA. Over the years, though, it built up so much that both of those weekends now have big crowds coming, so the need for it dissipated.”
Susan Farnsworth was hired by the Chamber to coordinate the Hats Off and Final Stretch festivals, which she did for for 17 years. Among her duties were hiring a team that set up and tore down the staging, supplying equipment, securing city permits and coordinating with the police, and collaboratively working to secure sponsors and to hire bands
“The Hats Off Festival would draw about 20,000 people each night; Final Stretch drew about 15,000 the first night, and about 10,000 on the second evening,” said Farnsworth, who currently lives in Israel. “My favorite part of the festivals was watching people enjoying the music, seeing children dancing; The atmosphere was fun, friendly, welcoming. It helped secure Saratoga Springs’ reputation as one of the best small cities in America,” she said.
Farnsworth recalled how some visitors would schedule their trips to Saratoga to coincide with the festivals. “The original purpose (of the festivals) was to bring more visitors to town the first and last day of racing,” she said. “I am very sad to see this tradition end, but times change.”
“The primary change is that Hats Off has largely been, for 30-plus years, a bunch of bands the Chamber has paid for, with staging outside and downtown in a variety of different places,” Shimkus says.
“This last year, we had a stage on Caroline Street. We closed the road. We had security there. We paid for a band. What we saw was that Saratoga City Tavern (also) had a band, Gaffney’s had a band, Spa City Tap and Barrel had a band – everybody on Caroline Street that had a space, had a band, and we went: What are we doing?”
Plans are being formulated to sponsor a July festival – it may be staged the Thursday prior to Opening Day – in and around existing bars and restaurants and could include locations such as Hattie’s alleyway, Henry Street venues and on Beekman Street.
The Hats Off festival, which ran from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, largely drew crowds 21 and over. “Maybe that wasn’t the case 10 years ago, but it is now. Families are not coming to the Hats Off festival,” Shimkus said. The specifics will be decided in the new year.
“Everybody out there that’s freaking out, just be a little patient and know that the Chamber has always done what’s in the best interests of the downtown,” Shimkus said. ‘When we announce our final plans, I think everyone will go: ‘Wow, that’s a really good idea.’”
INSIDE THE RIGGI THEATER, the stage lights flare bright, illuminating a scatter of white paper scripts, clipboards and heavy binders strewn about the cherry-red seats. Actors mill about, waiting their turn to audition atop the stage.
“Can you do a cold scene?” an actor sporting a man bun is asked.
“Yes,” replies manbun. “Is it OK if I put you in a headlock?”
Inside the theater, it is the middle of the summer on a weekday afternoon. Onstage it is June 1967, the time of the Monterey International Pop Festival, where the Who famously blew up their instruments and Jimi Hendrix set his guitar ablaze.
“Let’s do The John Scene,” suggests Mary Jane Hansen, who scripted the play, titled “American Soup.” The actor quickly falls into character.
“I don’t want to go swimming!” he exclaims. “I want to go see the Jefferson Airplane!”
Four months later, multiple auditions have been held, rehearsals staged and the cast in place and ready to present the production, which will take place at the National Museum of Dance Dec. 14-23.
“American Soup” - presented by iTheatre Saratoga, a division of The Creative Place International - is a celebration of pop culture and the landmarks of history on the evolution of the American spirit, Hansen says. It features the adventures of two American families in Queens, N.Y. living through events at the time – the moon landing, Vietnam, the Kennedy assassination - juxtaposed with Andy Warhol’s philosophy. CPI founding member John McGuire portrays the role of Andy Warhol.
“You have three things going on at the same time. You’ve got Andy. You’ve got the family in the restaurant. And there’s a band - music plays a big role in the play - and they all weave together,” explains Hansen, who grew up in Whitestone, in the north section of Queens.
Live music from the 1960s to the turn of the millennium provokes a visit to where and who we were, say show organizers, and “American Soup” reminds that there is hope, even during our darkest times.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A limited engagement run of “A Star Has Burnt My Eye,” written and performed by Howard Fishman, will be presented by Skidmore College Dec. 7 – 9.
The production, which had its world premiere at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) in November 2016, and was a New York Times Critics’ Pick, is directed by award winning director Paul Lazar of Big Dance Theater.
Synopsis: A Star Has Burnt My Eye is a multimedia theatrical meditation on the life and music of polymath Elizabeth “Connie” Converse, who some have taken to calling “the first singer-songwriter.” A prototype of the DIY artist, Converse wrote and self-recorded an extraordinary collection of songs in the early 1950’s before deliberately vanishing years later in despair of ever finding her audience. The show features a group of New York musicians, led by playwright and composer Howard Fishman, who perform her songs, read from her letters, and make the case for Converse’s particular genius, and her belated status as a great lost American artist.
Howard Fishman has toured the world as a headlining performer, fronting ensembles versed in pop, New Orleans jazz, country, bluegrass, classical, punk, gospel and experimental music.The New York Times has written that his work “transcends time and idiom.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS – An Election Day vote that split city voters nearly down the middle may be revisited in the next few weeks, following the filing of a petition seeking a recanvas in the referendum on charter reform.
On Nov. 24, an action was commenced in New York State Supreme Court in the hope of seeking a full review and recount – called a recanvass - of all ballots cast in the Election Day referendum for a new city charter. The action was initiated by Gordon Boyd - who filed the request as an independent voter, and on behalf of “other private individuals” who supported the campaign for charter change.
The Election Night tally depicted a 48-vote lead in favor of charter change of the nearly 8,500 ballots cast; Following the opening of absentee ballots a week later the lead shifted, with votes in favor of maintaining the status quo ahead by a 10-vote difference: 4,458 to 4,448. Approximately half the city’s eligible 18,000 voters took part in the vote.
“The current margin of 10 votes out of nearly 9,000 cast means that a review of all ballots and scanner machine records is imperative to assure that the voters can have confidence in the final count,” said Boyd. Boyd is a former member of the Saratoga Springs Charter Review Commission, which disbanded on Election Day, as well as a contributor It's Time Saratoga! – a group that advocated for charter change.
“A complete hand recount would take only a few days, would eliminate any doubt that the machines may have miscounted, and would serve the voters above all else,” said Bob Turner, former chairman of the commission.
According to Turner, an assistant professor of Skidmore College’s Environmental Studies and Sciences Program, 20 states and the District of Columbia provide for automatic recounts if the margin between the top two candidates is within certain parameters - typically 0.5 percent or less of votes cast for office or issue. The margin in the charter referendum is 10 votes or one-tenth of 1 percent of the near-9,000 votes cast.
“Our goal is to determine with utmost certainty that the final vote tally is valid. Voting machines are not 100 percent accurate, which is why we are asking for a full recount of all ballots. It was so close that machine errors, if any, could have affected the vote,” Boyd said.
Election law attorney Joshua Ehrlich has been hired by Boyd and it is expected a hearing could potentially be held on or around Dec. 20 in front of a judge who will subsequently decide whether an election recount will be conducted. Boyd would not comment about how much money was raised to hire the attorney, and a phone message to Ehrlich seeking comment for this story was not returned.
Electronic data used during the election – paper ballots and flash memory cards – have been secured by the Board of Elections in a vault, as is common practice.
At issue is the current Commission form of governing in Saratoga Springs, which relies on five elected part-time council members, each of whom are responsible for administering their own department, as well as serving as legislators. The proposed charter change to a Council-Manager form of governing would take effect in 2020 and would see that the council hires a non-partisan, professional city manager to carry out city policies.
Memo from Turner
Heading into the final 11 days prior to the Nov. 7 referendum, It's Time Saratoga! had nearly $19,500 in its campaign spending balance. SUCCESS – a group in favor of maintaining the current charter - had just over $25,000 on hand. The total funds raised and spent by both camps won’t be known until Dec. 4, when 27-day post-election filings are due at the state Board of Elections. The official certification of the election by the board is anticipated to occur at about the same time.
“We trust the Board of Elections as being extremely professional and competent and see no reason for the recount,” said SUCCESS group member Richard Sellers.
“I'll feel really good when it's over. I have an image of myself... I'm living on an island. The sky is blue, the sun is shining. And I'm smiling..." -- David Cassidy, Rolling Stone, May 11, 1972.
There were 20,000 of them, more or less, each seemingly armed with cheap, pocket-sized cameras crowned by four-sided cubes whose white flash burned your retinas with every image attempted to capture the teen idol on stage.
They had watched him, this crowd of mostly young girls, the past 18 months on TV - singing songs, driving the Partridge Family’s Mondrian-inspired bus - and bought millions of his albums, collected his trading cards, and carried to school lunchboxes bedizened with his image. And now here he was: live, in person, and on stage at the world’s most famous arena. It was a Madison Square Garden that had belonged to Ali and Frazier, Giacomin and Gilbert, Willis and Clyde. On this night, however, it was all about David Cassidy.
In 1972, a gallon of gas cost fifty-five cents, the average monthly rent was $165, and the annual household income about $12,000. It was a year that saw Crazy Joe Gallo gunned down at Umberto’s Clam House, five men arrested for breaking in to the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate Hotel and the gold medal achievements of Mark Spitz and Olga Korbut overshadowed when 11 Israelis, five guerillas and one police officer were killed in a 20-hour siege at the Munich Games.
Cassidy sang 15 or so songs, his 21-year-old torso coiling and squirming inside a white crepe jumpsuit and sending its fringe adornments reeling. “I’ll meet you halfway/ that’s better than no way,” he crooned. There were others: “I Can Feel Your Heartbeat,” and “Cherish.” “I Woke Up In Love This Morning,” and “Doesn’t Somebody Want To Be Wanted.” At Madison Square Garden, his TV/ real-life mom Shirley Partridge Jones sat in the first row.
My dad - then a youthful man in his thirties whose land of origins had given birth to 300 Spartans who did battle at Thermopylae and who as a child had escaped the Nazi plunder of his village – shook his head in disbelief at the commotion and plugged fingers into his ears to attempt to mute the shrill shrieks of teen-girl idolatry caterwauling down from the blue seats that called David’s name. It was a cacophonous chorus that my sister, six or seven years of age at the time, willingly joined. The sound of the screams rang around in your head for several days after.
Cassidy was a frequent summer visitor to Saratoga Springs. You’d run into him at the racecourse, or coming out of the Wilton Mall cinema, or at Fasig-Tipton - where he bought his first yearling in 1974. In 2001, he purchased a house in Saratoga Springs. It was a Monday night in August seven years later when he stood up in front of 250 people at a fundraising gala for The Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council at the Hall of Springs and publicly announced, for the first time, that he was an alcoholic. The revelation, which was unexpected, left some in the audience stunned.
“I was in denial about it, and the problem was getting worse,” said Cassidy, his wife Sue and his son Beau at his side. Cassidy talked about his genetical link to his own father, the actor Jack Cassidy. “Bipolar, manic-depressive, alcoholic and a genius,” he told the audience.
Wife Sue said she was proud of her husband for having the courage to publicly share such a personal experience. “Seeing him up here and telling you all this is one of the greatest things that I could ever hope to be able to be a part of,” said 17-year-old Beau.
Cassidy acknowledged that the location of the Hall of Springs, sitting as it does adjacent to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, created an interesting juxtaposition that merged the past and the present; a time for new beginnings to lead into the future.
“This is my favorite place in the world. ... I played here in '72, '73, '74,” Cassidy remembered. “What was ironic when I drove up, was that I realized this journey has been going on for so many years. And the journey is now. Every day, 24 hours, to stay sober.”
You got the feeling on that August night in 2008 that what stood before you was a person at a the flashpoint of their own existence, burning white-hot as the flash residue of 20,000 cameras all those years ago. You got the feeling, that night in 2008, that things could go either way. It did not go well. What followed was a series of drunken driving charges, a divorce from wife Sue Shifrin after more than 20 years of marriage, and Cassidy’s revelation earlier this year that he’d been diagnosed with dementia and was struggling with memory loss.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, he was admitted to a Florida hospital, reportedly with multiple organ failure. Time was running out. For millions of people who were born, say, between 1960 and 1965, the sadness of confronting their own mortality comingled with the childhood innocence of youthful dreams. “Prayers please,” Sue Shifrin Cassidy wrote Nov. 18 on Twitter. Nov. 19: David is still with us. Keep praying. Nov. 20: Critical but stable. Nov. 22: God was in that room tonight. Point him in the direction of... heaven. RIP.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A pair of multi-million-dollar deals in the heart of the city’s downtown district will affect three long-standing fixtures in a real estate overture that may best be titled: Broadway Variations.
The Saratoga Downtowner motel, constructed on Broadway and Division Street in 1963, was sold to the Lark Hotel group for $4.55 million, according to records at the Saratoga County Clerk’s office. Meanwhile, Cantina restaurant owner Jeff Ames, located across the street and a half-block away from the motel, has purchased for $2.2 million the former Lillian’s Restaurant on Broadway, where he anticipates opening a new two-story Cantina restaurant next May.
“I thought long and hard about making this move, but it was an opportunity to own my own building,” said Ames, adding that the new location will be a lot more “bistro-ey.” Ames is selling the lease at the current Cantina restaurant, where he opened for business in 2007, for $699,000.
After nearly 18 years of operating their 42-room motel on Broadway, Mary Cae Asay and her husband, Bill, have sold the Saratoga Downtowner to Lark Hotels. The company will be making its first entry into New York and currently operates intimately sized boutique hotels in Maine and Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Mendocino, California - a coastal community north of San Francisco.
“I am really pleased about this new hotel group coming in because they have a focus on a sense of place. They want it to reflect Saratoga. They’re going to renovate it and I think they’re going to bring a refreshed vitality to the corner here,” said Mary Cae Asay. She said she will miss seeing the thousands of picture-takers capturing images of her garden outside the motel as well as many longtime guests, some of whom have stayed in the same room year-after-year, and have made the experience feel more akin to having visiting relatives come for a stay.
“Maintaining the integrity of Saratoga was really important to me. We had multiple offers, but I was very grateful that this particular one worked out because they’re interested in keeping such a strong sense of Saratoga as part of their new business,” said Asay, who recently opened an office on Maple Avenue where she uses a holistic device – called a BEMER - to aid people in their healing. Her husband, Bill, plans on continuing to coach the Saratoga Springs High School boys swim team, as he’s done since the Asays first moved to the area.
“The other thing I’m going to do is now go visit my guests, at their inns and restaurants and shops. They’ve come to my place, now I’m going to go to theirs,” Asay said. “A lot of these people have come to the Downtowner for 15, 20, 30, 40 years. That’s how loyal and traditional our guests are. They love coming back to the Downtowner. We are the fourth owners since 1963 and I feel honored to be a part of that history.”
Lark Hotels CEO Rob Blood said in an email response that the company is excited to become part of the Saratoga community and to write the next chapter for the Downtowner. “While we are not yet ready to fully reveal our plans for the motel, I can say that our repositioning will focus on the cultural and creative community that is such an important part of the Saratoga Springs area,” Blood said. “We are currently targeting a summer 2018 opening for the property and look forward to unveiling more detailed plans soon."