City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
Gunfight: The Charges Are In
In the early morning hours on November 20, 2022, members of the Saratoga Springs Police Department responded to the sound of gunfire coming from Broadway. The officers involved were assigned to the downtown area, and were on foot on Caroline St at the time. Within seconds, the Officers confronted two individuals exchanging gunfire on Broadway in the heart of the City’s busy downtown area. –Saratoga Springs Police Department statement March 28, 2023.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A deputy sheriff was charged with attempted murder and three men from Utica with attempted assault in this week’s reveal of charges in connection with a November early morning incident in Saratoga Springs that saw approximately 20 bullets raining down on Broadway.
Vito E. Caselnova, a Rutland County Vermont sheriff’s deputy and Glens Falls resident, was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Saratoga County Court. The sealed indictment, unsealed in court, documented eight charges - five felonies, two misdemeanors, and one violation.
The charges: attempted murder in the second-degree, assault in the first-degree, possession of a firearm in a sensitive location (that “sensitive location” in this instance believed to be carrying a firearm inside a place that serves alcohol), two counts of possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device, menacing, reckless endangerment, and harassment.
“There is a wide range of sentences the court could impose if you are convicted of that (attempted murder) charge or if you plead guilty of that charge, but the most severe sentence is a determinate term of up to 25 years in state prison,” Judge Jim Murphy said in the courtroom on March 28.
Approximately two dozen people filled the public area of the courtroom. Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen was seated in the first row. Ten members of the media sat in the jury box, notebooks and cameras in hand.
“Given the configuration of the indictment, it may be that some of those charges would run concurrently, or potentially consecutively if you were to be found guilty or if you were to plead guilty,” Judge Murphy told Caselnova.
Caselnova, who sat mostly quiet while in the courtroom, pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Bail was set at $50,000 cash, or $100,000 bail bond. Caselnova’s attorney, Greg Teresi, said that bail would be posted on Caselnova’s behalf at the correction facility. Caselnova, 25, was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom.
During proceedings, an order of protection – effective immediately - was issued advising Caselnova to not have any contact, directly or indirectly, with Alexander Colon.
Less than 24 hours later and across the county, Colon’s name as well as those of two others allegedly connected with the Nov. 20 incident appeared on documents at Saratoga Springs City Court.
Court records indicate that the three people, all from Utica, were each charged with one count attempted assault in the third-degree, a misdemeanor, in connection with the incident. According to the prosecutor’s filings, the charge specifies each of the defendants “attempted to cause an injury to a person by repeatedly punching him.”
Those charged are: Alexander Colon, 28, Darius A. Wright, 29, and Christopher (AKA Christian) E. Castillo, 28. The charges were assigned on March 23, according to court documents. All three were summoned to appear in person in Saratoga Springs City Court at 9 a.m. on April 25.
According to statements by Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino shortly after the Nov. 20 incident occurred, an altercation allegedly involving Caselnova - who was off-duty at the time - and “a group of individuals from the Utica area” was initiated on or around a Caroline Street bar before accelerating west and onto Broadway with approximately eight shots being fired. It is unclear how many weapons may have been involved, or who is suspected of firing first.
City police officers subsequently responding to the incident fired approximately 11 shots after the off-duty deputy allegedly ignored calls to drop his weapon.
“What they see is the Vermont sheriff’s deputy, standing on the sidewalk, his gun leveled and moving from side-to-side pointing the gun,” Montagnino said. “The officers repeatedly, loudly direct the deputy, ‘Drop the gun, get on the ground,’ again, again and again. By my count there are at least eight separate clear unequivocal demands to put the gun down and get on the ground. They are all ignored.”
The incident marked the first discharge of a weapon in the line of duty by a Saratoga Springs officer in more than a quarter-century.
City officers testified before the grand jury and waived immunity for their actions, according to a statement issued by PBA President Paul Veitch this week. “The Grand Jury decision to exonerate our officers confirms that they acted appropriately and justifiably during this stressful life-threatening situation.”
Caselnova suffered a number of wounds as a result of the incident and a woman believed to be his girlfriend was “nicked by one of the bullets in her upper arm,” Montagnino said. The woman, Glens Falls resident Cali Brown, filed the notice of claim against the city and police department signifying her intent to sue, the Daily Gazette in February.
It is anticipated Caselnova will return to county court on May 2 at 9:30 a.m. for discovery compliance - the sharing of evidence in the matter.
“Nursing Homes On The Verge Of Collapse”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) is calling for a 20% increase to Medicaid reimbursement rates in the 2023-24 state budget to support upstate nursing homes.
“Our upstate nursing homes are on the verge of collapse,” said Woerner, during a press conference held this week. “They have hundreds of beds that can’t be filled due to staffing shortages caused by lack of funds. While I am grateful that the Assembly’s one-house budget doubled the executive’s proposed paltry increase of only 5%, the need for a full 20% increase remains. Without that increase, many homes supporting the elders in our communities will be forced to shut their doors, and we cannot allow this to happen.”
A systemic rebasing strategy, one that is based on current costs, is also critically needed if the rate is to keep up with the cost of providing care, Woerner added.
Medicaid reimbursements rates -- the amounts Medicaid provides to cover patient health care costs — for upstate nursing homes have not increased in 15 years in New York. Nursing homes’ operating costs have meanwhile increased around 40% over the last several years, leading to shortfalls in what the nursing homes charge for service and what they receive.
Medicaid pays for care for many nursing home residents across the state. At The Wesley Community, 75% of residents are paid for by Medicaid, yet it only covers part of the actual costs of care, according to J. Brian Nealon, CEO of The Wesley Community in Saratoga Springs.
“With every Medicaid resident we care for, Wesley loses $106 per day. Annually, this means underfunding of $8,500,000,” Nealon wrote in an editorial published Feb. 16 in Saratoga TODAY.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wesley was able to approach breakeven in some years through alternative revenue streams and donations from the community.
“That is no longer the case. Due to this shortfall, community-focused, nonprofit nursing homes statewide are closing or being sold to private ‘for-profit’ operators at an alarming rate. In Saratoga County alone, the number of nursing home beds has dropped by 55% in the last decade,” said Nealon, adding that 26 other states have increased their Medicaid funding during the pandemic, whereas New York reduced its reimbursement rates during that time.
The result of the underfunding by the state has forced many nursing homes, including Wesley, to limit admissions, and without available beds, hospitals cannot discharge patients who would have traditionally gone to a nursing home for rehabilitation.
“The governor’s recently released Executive Budget, with a proposed 5% increase, is a start, but still falls short of what is needed after years of underfunding,” Nealon said.
Assemblywoman Woerner said that a 20% increase will shore up the finances of upstate nursing homes and allow them to operate and provide care to the people who need it most.
Meeting April 12: Saratoga and Stillwater Committee Plans 250th Anniversary Celebrations of the American Revolution
SARATOGA — The towns of Saratoga and Stillwater 250th American Revolution Committee has started its work to plan and organize ceremonies, events, activities, and celebrations recognizing the 250th Anniversary of the American Revolution in local communities.
The 250th anniversary marks the British Army surrender in 1777 in present-day Schuylerville, following the battles at Saratoga, and has been nicknamed the Turning Point of the American Revolution. The anniversary will be commemorated through the fall of 2027 with a multi-faceted public education and marketing effort.
Last summer, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors committed $150,000 in seed money overall to the Saratoga County 250th American Revolution Commission, to help advance its mission of promoting education, historic preservation and heritage tourism of the Revolutionary War era events, people, and places throughout Saratoga County.
The towns of Saratoga & Stillwater are working together on their plans and have reached out to some of the villages within their respective towns for their feedback.
The committee recently reviewed the County’s, NYS, and Federal commemoration plan and upcoming county activities, including the Women at War Symposium on May 5 and 6, Revolution Along the Hudson talks during the summer of 2023, and the Pathways through History weekend on October 7 and 8. We encourage all residents to mark these dates on their calendars and join us in celebrating our nation’s history.
Residents are encouraged to attend the next committee meeting, which will take place 6:30 p.m. on April 12 in the Gates Room of Saratoga Town Hall.
Saratoga BLM Activist City Court Date Moved to April
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A city court appearance by Chandler Hickenbottom scheduled to take place this week has been rescheduled for April 24.
The violation charge made against Hickenbottom, a Saratoga BLM activist, has come under much scrutiny after the disturbing-a-lawful-assembly charge was requested by City Council member and Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino.
Montagnino, one of five City Council members, said he filed the charge in response to a disruption of a Feb. 7 City Council meeting. “The City Council meeting was ended. It wasn’t delayed, it wasn’t’ interrupted, it was ended,” Montagnino said. That council meeting was subsequently adjourned early and eventually resumed two days later.
The four other members of the City Council have publicly expressed disapproval of the action brought by their fellow Democrat public safety commissioner.
Hickenbottom pleaded not guilty to the disorderly conduct charge during her arraignment at Saratoga Springs City Court on March 7. She was accompanied by her attorney Mark Mishler who told the court that the allegations infringe and violate Hickenbottom’s protected First Amendment rights.
Both Saratoga Springs City Judges - Jeffrey Wait and Francine Vero – apparently withdrew from hearing the case. Mechanicville City Court Judge Constantine DiStefano instead took the position at the judge’s bench.
An additional filing by the commissioner for an order of protection was denied on March 7 by Judge DiStefano.
All parties were scheduled to return to city court on March 28. That court date has now been moved to April 24.
Tuskegee Airman: Local Veteran Posthumously Honored
BALLSTON SPA — This week, The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors and the Saratoga County Veterans Service Agency held its monthly Honor Deceased Veterans Program by honoring longtime Saratoga Springs resident and Tuskegee Airman Clarence Dart.
Dart flew 95 missions overseas during World War II. Twice, he survived being shot down by the enemy. He grew up during the Great Depression. As a child, his clothing came from the Salvation Army. Much of his food was grown in the family garden in Elmira. He built model airplanes as a child and had a yearning to fly.
The day after his 21st birthday, on Dec. 7, 1941, Dart was singing in his church choir when he heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor. The young man knew what he wanted to do. The following year, he was accepted into flight training at the Tuskegee Army Air Field, joining other young men who had enlisted to become America’s first black military airmen.
Dart served as a member of the 332nd Fighter Group and was assigned to the 99th Fighter Squadron in the 12th Air Force in North Africa. He was one of about 1,000 fighter pilots who painted the tails of their airplanes red, earning the nickname, “Red Tails.” They were trained as a segregated unit and forbidden to practice alongside their white counterparts.
Dart later flew P-51s escorting 15th Air Force bombers and was discharged from active duty at the rank of Captain in 1947. He went on to serve in the NY Air National Guard and retired at the rank of Lt. Colonel.
For his service Dart received two Purple Hearts for injuries sustained during air combat, the Air Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, the WWII Victory Medal, and the American Defense Medal, the NYS Conspicuous Service Cross, and the NYS Conspicuous Service Star.
While he fought for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four freedoms, when Dart returned home from the war there was no heroic welcome, and no job that was available to him to fulfill his dream of being a commercial airplane pilot.
The accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen are credited with influencing President Harry Truman to officially desegregate the U.S. military in 1948. It was the same year Dart relocated to Saratoga Springs. He married his wife, Mildred, in June 1950 and the couple raised their family of seven daughters and two sons in the Spa City.
After the war, Dart worked for General Electric Co. until his retirement in 1987, after which he began visiting schools and talking to students about his experiences in the war, explaining to them the importance of getting an education as a way of bettering themselves and creating opportunities. It was only after Dart began to speak about his wartime experiences at the request of neighborhood schools that his own children began to truly understand some of their father’s experiences.
It took more than 60 years for recognition to come for the humble man from Elmira. In 2007, Dart was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal, alongside other Tuskegee Airmen in the Capitol Rotunda, and in 2011 was honored locally at the Wesley Community senior housing facility where he resided at the time. Dart died in 2012. He was 91 and was buried with military honors at the family plot at Greenridge Cemetery on Lincoln Avenue.
Established in 1999 by the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, the Honor Deceased Veterans Program provides a way for county leadership and residents to show gratitude for the service of veterans past and present. The ceremony is dedicated to a different Saratoga County veteran each month. To date, more than 300 Saratoga County Veterans have been honored.
To learn more about Clarence Dart, in his own words, go online to YouTube and search: Clarence W. Dart.
St. Baldrick’s: Ballston Spa Mayor Leads by Example
BALLSTON SPA — Cropped. Trimmed. Sheared. Exposed. Ballston Spa Mayor Frank Rossi kept his head up while sticking his neck out and after all was said and done raised about $15,000 to supporting research in finding cures for childhood cancers.
It was the first time the mayor took part in the event, an annual fundraiser for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Rossi vowed to shave his head if 20 or more Ballston Spa Scotties athletes and coaches joined the drive. And so, they did.
“I was a little scared about it at first because it was the first time I ever shaved my head,” the mayor said, following the event held at the Saratoga City Tavern Saturday. The next day, the chill carrying wind made its presence felt upon his exposed scalp. “I was feeling it on Sunday, but thankfully someone gave me a Scotties Lacrosse hat, so I was able to stay somewhat warm,” Rossi said with a laugh.
The St. Baldrick’s Foundation is a volunteer and donor-powered charity supporting research to find cures for childhood cancers and to help provide survivors long and healthy lives. Last year, the organization raised more than $20 million. Thus far, in the early months of 2023, nearly $11.5 million has been raised.
Rossi said he set an initial fundraising goal of $1,000 for his Mayor’s Team. About $15,000 was raised, Rossi said.
Would he return to the scene of the shears next year?
“I absolutely would do this again, and I’d like to see if we can get a little rivalry going with other schools to see who can raise the most,” Rossi said.
March 2023 Notebook: Saratoga County Board of Supervisors
BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, during its monthly meeting on March 21, proclaimed April as “Donate Life Month” in Saratoga County.
According to documents cited by the Board, 100,000 men, women and children are awaiting organ transplants and 17 people die each day because the organ they need is not donated in time.
County employees are encouraged to wear blue and green, the official colors of Donate Life New York State, on the organization’s “Blue and Green Day”- April 14, 2023.
In New York State, 3,396 transplants were performed in 2022. Approximately 8,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant in N.Y., with more than 1,100 waiting longer than five years. An estimated 500 New Yorkers die every year while waiting for an organ transplant, according to the county Board.
Anyone 16 years of age or older can enroll as an organ and tissue donor. That information may be found at: https://donatelife.ny.gov/.
Upgrades To Saratoga County Sewer District No. 1’s Saratoga Springs Pump Station
-The Board authorized the execution of an agreement with W.M. Schultz Construction, Inc. of Ballston Spa, for work relating to the upgrade of the Saratoga Springs pump station. That includes new piping, roof, pump rebuilds, and wet well and influent manhole rehabilitation at a cost of up to $4.148 million. The Board further resolved a services agreement with Dynamic Electrical Systems LLC of Glenville, for electrical work relating to the upgrade of the pump station at a cost of up to $619,000. Funding for the agreements will require an appropriation of $3.067 million from the Sewer Fund Balance.
Establishing An Updated Official Saratoga County Seal
-In 1968, the County established an Official Saratoga County Seal to depict the creation of the County in 1791. Last year, the County began developing a brand strategy to include the standardization of its visual identity across all departments and authorized an agreement with Trampoline Design to do so.
This week, the Board adopted a resolution regarding the new seal. It will be filed with the County Clerk and with the Secretary of State of the State of New York.
The official seal of Saratoga County portrays the surrender of the Battle of Saratoga, depicting a three-quarter view of a field piece (trail end); Gen. Burgoyne surrendering his sword to General Gates in the presence of color-guard flying the American flag (13 bars and 13 stars-in-a circle) taking place under a tree. Background is composed of a squad of unarmed solders marching, and backdrop shows the mountain ranges to the east. A complete circle of tiny cannon balls rings the picture, and the words “Saratoga County 1791” appear outside the cannon balls and inside an endless rope circle completing the seal.
Saratoga Springs City Council: March 21
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city on March 21 awarded a $150,000 Mayor’s Non-Profit grant to Pitney Meadows Community Farm for their investment in a solar infrastructure project.
The mayor’s non-profit grant committee received four proposals in all vying the grant, Pitney Meadows Farm, Cady Hill Cemetery, RISE, and the YMCA Senior Center, among them.
“They were all great proposals, very community minded,” city Mayor Ron Kim said.
Pitney Meadows Community Farm was founded in 2016 with a mission is to celebrate and explore agricultural education, healthy food production, and recreation. It is located on 166 acres on the west side of Saratoga Springs and is preserved in perpetuity as a working farm. Since 2016, it has successfully transitioned from a volunteer-led endeavor to professional non-profit operation, led by expert full-time staff collaborating with the Saratoga community, according to documents presented to the city by the organization.
In 2022 PMCF welcomed over 6,000 visitors and community members; donated 8,743 pounds of produce; supported more than 100 community gardeners; hosted 162 educational programs; added a full-time staff member to lead a food sovereignty program; and collaborated with more than 20 organizations. However, the parcel is divided into three separate sections, leaving agricultural fields without access to power.
The organization says to sustain itself as a regenerative agriculture, public health, and ecological asset for future decades it is addressing the significant irrigation and power needs with climate-smart approaches, identifying solar infrastructure as a natural solution to provide the electricity required for the irrigation, propagation, and gathering facilities for the farm’s extensive community-driven operations.
The total project budget is $336,500. Thus far, $49,000 in grant funding has been received for the solar initiative, and the organization sought the one-time investment by the city of Saratoga of $150,000 in PMCF’s transition to solar energy.
Phillips Appointed New Assistant City Attorney
Michael Phillips was appointed Assistant City Attorney of Saratoga Springs, during Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.
Phillips, who was admitted to the NYS Bar in June of 1991, recently ran as Democrat challenger in the county District Attorney race, an election in which incumbent Republican District Attorney Karen Heggen ultimately emerged victorious.
Compensation stipulated is $2,019 per week for a standard 40-hour work week.
Human Rights Protection Amendment Tabled for Two Weeks
The council seemingly was set to approve the addition of a “Human Rights Protection” chapter to City Code, but a conflict over the clarity of specific language inspired council debate and resulted in the matter being tabled until the city’s next meeting, on April 4.
The first designation under the Human Rights Protection chapter is scheduled to be the protection of reproductive rights. In doing so, the city says it is recognizing the importance of reproductive healthcare as a matter of health, privacy, and equality and to ensure that those rights are upheld for all city residents.
While N.Y. State has protections for reproductive rights in place, city Mayor Ron Kim noted that other cities in the state of N.Y. have adopted similar city protective ordinances in light of more restrictive policies being implemented recently in other states.
New Project Proposal Cycle is Open for Participatory Budgeting
The Saratoga Springs Finance Department launched a Participatory Budgeting pilot project in Spring of 2022. Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public budget.
A New project proposal cycle is currently open, and the Committee will be accepting project proposals through May 1.
Several projects were funded during cycle one, Sustainable Saratoga’s Urban Forestry Project, Jefferson & Vanderbilt Terrace Community Garden, Saratoga Arts & HMT Broadway Live Musical Theater, and a Curling pilot program, among them.
A cycle 2 informational workshop session will be held 6-8 p.m. Friday March 31 at the Recreation Center, and 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 25 at the Saratoga Springs Public Library. For more information, go to: www.saratoga-springs.org/2682/Participatory-Budgeting.
Public Safety Numbers Tell A Story
SARATOGA SPRINGS — This week, the Department of Public Safety released its annual report for the 2022 calendar year.
The city’s Public Safety Department is comprised of a full-time Administrative Office Staff, a Police Department, Fire Department, Code Enforcement Division, Central Dispatch, Traffic Maintenance, Animal Control Officers and a Health Officer. There are approximately 167 full-time employees, and 11 part-time employees – the latter of whom work as school crossing guards, vehicle traffic controllers, part-time cleaners and clerks, and summer laborers at the traffic garage.
The Police Department specifically is currently staffed with a chief, 4 lieutenants, 10 sergeants, 10 investigators, and 47 patrol officers.
The Department ended the 2022 calendar year with eight vacant patrol positions and the loss of the assistant chief’s position. In 2022, 14 new police officers were hired and trained, 10 were lost through retirements or resignations and 2 new hires left to pursue a career with the New York State Police. Six patrol officers are currently in the police academy and will be available for patrol in May, according to the report.
Some Findings in the 2022 Report:
• During the year, members of the Saratoga Springs Police Department responded to 26,186 calls for service. Officers generated 3,933 cases that resulted in 821 arrests. Of the individuals arrested, 57% were not residents of the city of Saratoga Springs.
• The most frequent type of calls were property checks (2,596), followed by traffic stops (2,277).
• Reported crimes, in number: Larceny (414); Burglary (74); Aggravated Assault (61); Rape (18); Robbery (11), Motor Vehicle Theft (9). The three months with the most reported crimes were, in order: July, May, and June.
• A separate, “Reported Crimes Part II” detail: Simple Assault (369); Criminal Mischief (189); Driving Under the Influence (119), and Controlled Substance Sale and/or Possession (101) as the most frequent in this category.
• Driving Under the Influence returned the most arrests (120), followed by Simple Assault (100), Criminal Mischief (67), Larceny (62), and Controlled Substance Possession (62).
• Of the 26,186 calls for service handled by members of the SSPD, 72 resulted in a use of force by SSPD standards, or 0.27% of the total calls for service. Of the 72 Use of Force reports documented by the SSPD, 26 meet the requirements for reporting by New York State, or 0.1% of the total calls for service. In 2022, 56% of all use of force incidents occurred between midnight and 4 a.m. Officers were injured during suspect encounters in 6 separate incidents in 2022.
• Saratoga Springs Police responded to 1,683 traffic collisions resulting in 998 accident reports being completed in 2022. One of the collisions involved a fatality. Officers conducted 2,280 traffic stops in 2022 and issued 1,686 Uniform Traffic Tickets. Of the tickets issued, 132 were for Driving While Intoxicated. Most crashes, Day of the Week: Friday. The highest number of crashes took place during the month of August.
Parking Spaces, Sacred Places: Collamer Lot to Install Paid Parking
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Parking spaces make for sacred places during the Spa City’s heaviest trafficked times, inspiring motorists to navigate a busy Broadway seeking a free spot of convenience to temporarily stash their vehicle.
The Collamer lot, as it is often referred to, stands just north of City Hall and for several decades has hidden amid the camouflage of plain sight, a welcome respite for wheeled roadsters yearning for rapid runs to any one of the many fine sidewalk coffeehouses lining main street or aid in the undertaking of some quick storefront shopping, alike.
With quiet suddenness one recent morning, the lot, long unbothered save for a two-hour parking limitation, was discovered in an altered state festooned with a proliferation of tall metal poles upon which were posted signs warning all who enter: Private Parking. All Others Will Be Towed. Of course, the new, mammoth city parking structure welcoming motorists stands a mere few dozen yards away. But, still.
So, what gives?
As it turns out, the city of Saratoga Springs, which owned the lot, sold it about 16 months ago to Algonquin LLC for approximately $1.2 million.
“They finally, I am told, exercised their control over it,” said Saratoga Springs City Attorney Tony Izzo, when asked about it. “It was a situation where they needed to do that, because the public was essentially still viewing it as a public parking lot. Now that they’ve put the signs up, it should be very clear to the public that it’s a private parking lot.”
Izzo said there were some discussions with the owner’s attorneys regarding whether or not the city might subsequently lease a part of the lot, but that did not happen. “The city wanted to sell it and be done with it.”
The space had once sited the Pavilion Hotel – built in 1819 and felled by a fire in the 1840s. In 1857, the First Presbyterian Church was built atop the lot at a cost of $3,000 and supplemented with an organ to provide the public “the pleasure of hearing its tone and power,” according to published reports of the time.
The church stood for 119 years, itself destroyed by a fire of suspicious origin in the pre-dawn hours of the last Thursday of January 1976. Flames from the blaze shot up as high as 200 feet according to eyewitnesses and was first discovered by then-23-year-old Saratoga Springs patrolman Frank Max. Max, now 70 years of age and still living locally, said when contacted for this article last week, that he vaguely remembers seeing smoke coming from the building while he was walking his beat. As a result of the fire, three policemen and a firefighter were injured and 60 residents of the adjacent Algonquin apartment house and the Collamer building were evacuated from the safety of their abodes.
Nearly a decade ago, the parcel was to be coupled with a land sale in an acquisition that sought to develop an east side fire station. And in 2008, the city contemplated various proposals from three different development groups that included the sale of the so-called Collamer and High Rock lots in exchange for a new public safety facility, a parking garage, retail/residential buildings and potentially a city-wide paid parking system. None of the proposals ultimately came to fruition.
A plaque fixed to a stone outside the building told the history of the church, although that plaque has gone missing and today only a naked stone remains.
More changes are planned for the lot in the future. A site plan filed with the city of Saratoga Springs last September calls for a proposed mixed-use project to include approximately 4,000 sq. ft. commercial space and 112 residential units on the upper floors. The proposed project is titled Algonquin Properties Re-Development. The applicant is The Algonquin, LLC, of Monsey, N.Y.
There are also plans for a portion of the parking area of the lot itself.
“We’ve rented a number of the spaces to a number of people in the Collamer (building) and at City Hall,” says Will Borchers, manager at the Algonquin. “In a couple of weeks, we’re also going to implement a paid parking system - by the hour, or by the day.” That system will be using an app and a QR code and will feature somewhere around three dozen spaces.