Displaying items by tag: dimopoulos
US Census Extended to Mid-August; Saratoga Springs Household Response Rate Currently at 22%
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The 2010 census indicated the city of Saratoga Springs had a population of 26,586. Those population numbers are estimated to be higher, now, a decade later.
The U.S. Constitution mandates that the census takes place every 10 year and responses matter in helping determine how many dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities each year, as well as how many seats in Congress each state gets.
The U.S. has counted its population every 10 years since 1790.
Door-to-door campaigns inspiring residents to fill out 2020 Census forms have been halted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the U.S. Census Bureau has extended the national deadline for the count by two weeks, until mid-August.
Through March 22, the most recent date of available figures, less than one-fourth, or 22.5% of Saratoga Springs households responded online, by mail, or by phone to the 2020 Census. That percentage is just under 20% for Saratoga County as a whole. The city and county 2010 self-response rates were each at approximately 70 percent in 2010.
For more information and to respond to the census, visit: 2020census.gov
Kentucky Derby Postponed to Sept. 5; NYRA Issues Statement Regarding 2020 Belmont Stakes
NEW YORK — Tuesday morning, Churchill Downs Incorporated announced that the 2020 Kentucky Derby, originally scheduled for May 2, has been postponed and will now be run on Saturday, Sept. 5.
In response, New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) CEO & President Dave O’Rourke issued the following statement: “NYRA is working closely with all appropriate parties, including media rights holder NBC Sports, to make a determination about the timing of the 2020 Belmont Stakes. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend American life, decisions about large-scale public events must prioritize public health and safety above all else. NYRA will deliver an announcement only when that process has concluded to the satisfaction of state and local health departments. The Belmont Stakes is a New York institution with wide-reaching economic impact. We look forward to its 152nd edition in 2020.”
Since March 12, NYRA has conducted live racing without fan attendance at Aqueduct and through March 17 restated its intention to continue racing behind closed doors.
The 40-racing days Saratoga Meet is slated to run July 16 - Sept. 7. Spring training at the Oklahoma Training track, located on Union Avenue across from the main racecourse typically begins in mid-April.
Saratoga Hospital: COVID-19
New Visitation & Hospital Access Policies; Hospital Establishes Separate Lab Specimen Collection Site for Approved COVID-19 Testing of Patients
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Hospital has instituted new visitation and hospital access policies. Until further notice, enter only through the main entrance or the Alfred Z. Solomon Emergency Center.
The main entrance hours are:
Monday - Friday: 6 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday: 7 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
• The Emergency Center entrance is open 24/7.
• Mollie Wilmot Radiation Oncology entrance: for cancer patients only.
• No visitors with fever, cough or shortness of breath
• All patients will be restricted to one visitor/support person. This applies to all patients, including inpatients, those who are coming to the hospital for outpatient tests or treatments, and maternity patients.
The hospital says “compassionate considerations” will be made on a case-by-case basis dependent on a patient's circumstances and nurse director or designee approval. All patients and visitors must sign in at the reception desk and follow the login procedure. No visitors under age 16.
These restrictions apply only to Saratoga Hospital, not to outpatient locations.
COVID-19 testing must be ordered by a healthcare provider or your county health department.
If you believe you have COVID-19 symptoms, or may have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, do not go to any healthcare location. Instead, please call your provider. When you call, a healthcare professional will assess your symptoms. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may be directed to a testing site per your provider or your county public health department.
If someone believes they may be sick, people are encouraged to call their provider before going to a provider’s office or urgent care to help assess the next best steps for care and provide appropriate guidance. For example, in most mild cases, a provider visit may not be necessary.
Saratoga Hospital has established a separate lab specimen collection site for approved COVID-19 testing of patients. The temporary biocontainment facility, located outside Alfred Z. Solomon Emergency Center on Myrtle Street, is the safest way to provide this service to the community.
Patients must be referred for COVID-19 specimen collection at this site either by a licensed healthcare provider or by the New York State or Saratoga County health departments. There is no walk-in service. For more information, go to: www.saratogahospital.org/covid19.
The NYSDOH Coronavirus Hotline is a valuable resource for the most up-to-date information: 1-888-364-3065.
Saratoga Springs: New Rules for City Operations
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The City Council announced on Friday, March 13 that the City of Saratoga Springs has declared a State of Emergency. City Hall offices were closed to the public beginning Monday, March 16 and remain so until rescinded by a further order.
The City Police Department, Fire/EMS Department, and vital Public Works staff will continue to operate as normal. For life-threatening emergencies, call 911. Call your health care provider FIRST if you have any concerns over your health and possible exposure to COVID-19.
The City Land Use Boards are cancelled for at least the next two weeks, including the March 27 meeting.
CITY DEPARTMENT CONTACTS:
Accounts Department: 518-210-3243 (Marilyn Rivers, Director of Risk and Safety).
Mayor’s Department: 518-414-2118 (Lisa Shields, Deputy Mayor).
Public Safety Department:
518-584-1800 (Police Department Non-Emergency)
518-587-3599 (Fire Department Non-Emergency)
518-265-6485 (Eileen Finneran, Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety)
Public Works Department: 518-584-3356 (Department Dispatch).
Finance Department: Finance will be communicating regarding City payments (taxes, utility bills, etc.). Please check the City website for updates.
Health Care: www.saratogacountyny.gov/departments/publichealth
The Saratoga Springs School District is closed effective immediately through Sunday April 19.
Residents are encouraged to visit the City’s website at www.Saratoga-Springs.org to receive updates on City operations.
Neighbors: Chuck Vosganian AKA Rochmon
On the third Tuesday of each month, Chuck Vosganian AKA Rochmon, leads a live multi-media presentation about a classic album from rock ‘n’ roll’s heyday. There are stories. There are songs. There are trivia contests, the exploration of lyrics, and a timeline of culture in an iconic time. After relocating the monthly sessions to Caffe Lena nearly three years ago, Rochman is slated to return to the place of his origins at the newly reopened and remodeled Universal Preservation Hall.
Where did you grow up and how did you get to Saratoga?
I grew up in East Moriches, Long Island, in the middle of nowhere. Potato-and-duck country. Later, I lived in Chicago for 15 years then in Queensbury for 27 years before moving to Saratoga. Being in Saratoga, I wanted to live in a community where I could go out my door and walk around downtown.
When was the first Rochmon show?
September 2016. The first album was actually a movie: I played the Joe Cocker “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” We had like nine people come. It was so much fun. So, I asked Teddy (Foster, of UPH) if I could do it again. I returned the next month with David Bowie’s “Young Americans.”
What other artists’ albums had you done at UPH?
We did Queen and Led Zeppelin, we did Deep Purple; the music was a little bit of harder rock over at UPH. We got folk-i-fied when we went to Caffe Lena, haha. But Lena’s did such a great job building an audience for me. I was there since April 2017 - and our audience - we had lines around the corner. Sarah Craig at Caffe Lena was great.
I have always been surrounded by smart women. Between Teddy Foster and Mary Beth McGarrahan at UPH, Sarah at Caffe Lena, my wife Karen, and my daughter Alyssa, they’ve really helped bring the show forward. I couldn’t have done it without any of them.
You’re assisted during the shows by your daughter?
My daughter Alyssa, who’s 28. She’s my youngest and grew up listening to this stuff. Now, doing this with my daughter is also a reach-back to my mom, who taught me how to deeply listen to music; to see the picture that the music was trying to paint. My parents were classically trained opera singers and performers. So when we listen to an album and I do the deep dig-in, it is part of that connection.
How many Rochmon Record Club presentations have you done to date?
Forty-seven. Forty-seven different albums. And every show evolves in an unexpected direction. Like Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” which we’re doing next week. (Ed. note: this presentation, along with all other shows at UPH have been postponed until April 12). Sound and pictures of Paul Simon - throughout his career, and people who played on the album, interesting instruments, the lyrics. We’ll talk about each song individually, the album cover, sales, and I also play some deeper audio drops; for instance, there will be a demo version of “Homeless,” and it’s nothing like the (recorded) song goes.
The entire album is played?
I ask people: When was the last time you listened to an entire album? Ten years ago? Fifteen years ago? Today, the way we consume music is different, so you might listen to a couple of songs, but not the whole record. And the whole record is the complete work of art. It’s the Mona Lisa. And that’s how we connect around the album. We’re listening to the whole thing. I like to say we’re listening to the album again for the first time. And it gives us an opportunity to go back.
Now that you’re coming back to UPH, what are some future listening parties you are planning?
Later this year we’ll have “Led Zeppelin IV,” Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” “Chicago II,” Elvis Costello’s “My Aim Is True.”
How do the stories work?
A lot of it is just relating the story of the band and talking about what I loved about the music. I explain what I hear and discuss the connections. What’s really interesting is how the listening has evolved. In the beginning it was what the album meant to me, but years later, the way you hear it today changes from how you heard it as a kid. And that’s an amazing journey.
- Interview by Thomas Dimopoulos
The Rochmon Record Club presentation of Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” at UPH, on Washington Street was slated to take place March 17. All shows at the venue have been postponed, through April 12.
Curtains Up: UPH Unveils 700 Seat Theater
Universal Preservation Hall, a new 700-seat theater-in-the-round performance space, just prior to the first-night opening of the doors, on Feb. 29, 2020. Photos by SuperSource Media, LLC.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — “How do you like us now!”
Teddy Foster beamed beneath the sparkle of stage lights Saturday night, unveiling the grand room to the eyes of several hundred theater goers.
“I’ve been waiting to say that a long time,” said the newly named director of Universal Preservation Hall, which stands on Washington Street, one block west of Broadway. “A really, really long time.”
Foster joined the board at UPH in 2006, became its president three years later and has stewarded the grand old church building from the brink of obliteration to its present-day promise as a thriving performance and community center in downtown Saratoga Springs.
It was built in 1871 and served as a Methodist church for its first 100 years, as well as playing a role in the city’s civic life by providing a venue for visiting statesmen including Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, William Jennings Bryan and Frederick Douglass. But by the 1960s, it had fallen on hard times. Downtown Saratoga was in decline and the Methodist congregation relocated to a new building outside of town. The church sat empty for several years. A local Baptist congregation bought it for $18,000 in 1976 but hadn’t the means to preserve and restore the aging structure.
In 2000, the city condemned the building. Local preservationists organized a nonprofit group and reached out to the Baptist congregation to help save the structure. Donations paid for an initial wave of renovation work beginning in 2003. The building was stabilized but the restoration effort ground to a halt with the economic collapse of 2008-09.
The venue had housed a smattering of events in recent years – from fashion shows to First Night celebrations, and concerts by Colin Hay and John Sebastian. Max Weinberg – drummer of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, brought his 15-piece big band to UPH in 2010, and Brooklyn-based band Cuddle Magic performed a memorable mixed-media show at the hall with pianist Phyllis Chen and novelist and short story writer Rick Moody in 2014. Because the renovations were only partly completed, however, the maximum occupancy of the hall was severely restricted.
“I was smart enough to realize I needed either a plan to move forward or an exit plan,” Foster said, speaking about the future of UPH in 2015. “You’re remembered not for how you start something but how you leave it. I didn’t want to be remembered as the woman who let down Universal Preservation Hall. So, we got busy.”
In the summer of 2015, following three years of discussions, an operating alliance was created with Proctors, the historic theater in downtown Schenectady that has served as a performing arts destination in that city since the 1970s.
A $13.5 million renovation project followed. The original stained glass windows and the building’s pews have been restored. New seating descends from the rear balcony and, on the other end of the 7,000 square-foot room, ascend into the apse. Movable platforms allow the space to open up, depending on the requirements of any given performance. There is a new glass atrium entryway and elevator, and a state-of-the-art sound system. The architecture maintains its Gothic accents and re-opened to the public on Feb. 29, Leap Day.
“When we saw it was possible to open on this day, we leapt,” quipped Proctors CEO Philip Morris on opening night. The Proctors Collaborative includes Proctors in Schenectady, Albany’s Capital Repertory Theatre and now UPH in Saratoga Springs.
The 700-seat theatre-in-the-round set-up is not alien to longtime regional theater goers, sharing the performer-audience intimacy of the former Starlite Music Theater - which began its life as the Colonie Musical Theater in 1958, before taking the more familiar Colonie Coliseum name in the early 1970s.
It seems fitting Rosanne Cash was selected as the debut performer in the re-christening of the grand hall. The eldest daughter of Johnny Cash was 9 years old when the Man In Black performed at the 5,000-seat Convention Hall on Broadway on a November night in 1964 in support of his then-new album “I Walk The Line.” One year later, Saratoga Springs’ largest indoor venue went up in flames. The emergence of UPH marks the return of a mid-sized, year-round venue to the downtown district. According to a statement issued in 2018, UPH will serve an estimated 65,000 visitors per year, with a $3.5 million annual economic impact as a year-round venue space.
As for parking, UPH is located within a few hundred feet from the four-level parking garage on Woodlawn Avenue. The structure, built in 2012, holds about 450 vehicles. The garage will provide easy access to a planned glassed-in entryway to the east of the hall’s current entrance.
Upcoming concerts at UPH include: An Evening with Chris Botti 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 6. $79.50 - $179.50; Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame Ceremony 6 p.m. Monday, March 9, $50; Howard Jones Acoustic Trio 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14, $29.50 - $69.50; Irish Hooley with the Screaming Orphans 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 15, $25.
Rochmon Record Club which began its monthly gathering under the guidance of music savant Chuck Vosganian, AKA “Rochmon,” will mark its return to UPH at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, when the offering will feature a presentation of Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” Tickets are $25.
Tickets for all shows are available by phone at 518-881-4500, online at universalpreservationhall.org or at the Box Office at 25 Washington St.
Golf Legend, Speed Skater, Entrepreneur: Gail Purdy Brophy was “World-Class”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A simple sign is fixed to the glass at the entryway door where Gail Purdy Brophy operated her business for a generation. “In remembrance of Gail,” reads the sign inside the Congress Street Plaza, “we honor her lifelong dedication to Purdy’s and the local community.”
Decorated golfer, accomplished speed skater, longtime Spa City business owner and community member Gail Purdy Brophy died Feb. 23. She was 77.
“I’m just honored to have known her and to have been her friend,” said Kent Tarkleson, owner of Tark’s Indoor Golf Club in Wilton. They’ve been friends the past 15 years. “Such a wonderfully generous person; she’s going to be immensely missed.”
For more than a half-century Brophy operated Purdy’s Discount Wine and Liquor store, sited at a number of locations throughout the city - including Caroline Street for seven years and Broadway for 26 years, before moving to Congress Street Plaza in 1997.
She was born in Glens Falls in 1942. Her career as a businesswoman launched in the fall of 1963, when she quit college and returned home to run her father’s liquor store after he became ill. A few years later, she married James “Bud” Brophy to whom she was wed for 28 years, until he passed away at age 79 in 1998.
Across the decades, Brophy has employed more than 200 employees, generated millions of dollars in sales tax revenue for the city and county and has supported more than 1,000 local charity events.
Brophy had been a member of Saratoga Winter Club speedskating since she was a teenager. She won more than 100 titles in the northeast, including winning several Eastern States Championships, New England Championships, Eastern Seaboard Championships, New York State Championships, and the Lake George International Silver Skates. She won seven National or North American divisional championships.
At age 16, she competed in the first U.S. Olympic Trials for speed skating women in 1959, and in 1964 competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials for the Olympic Games - in both cases narrowly missing the Olympic team by one spot. One year later, Brophy secured the top prize in 1965 North American Indoor Short Track Championships, as well as being crowned champion at the Diamond Trophy Indoor in Lake Placid.
Perhaps her greatest athletic achievements came as a golfer - participating in the U.S. Women’s Open in 1960 and 1961 and emerging as the New York State Women’s Amateur champion in 1961, the youngest at the time to ever win that championship.
When she left college to run the family business, she put her sports career on hold. In 2006, she returned to the golfing world and won the New York State Super Senior State Championship in 2007 and 2008.
For the past eight years, Brophy dealt with pulmonary fibrosis, but refused to let that hold her back.
“No matter what she was going through, she kept practicing, kept working on her game. She just loved it so much she didn’t want to give it up,” Tarkleson says. “She was more passionate than anyone I’ve ever known. Dedicated and determined to succeed. As she started to struggle, she would still practice and she would tell me: I may not be getting any better, but I’m not getting any worse. That says it all.
“She was tough, she was gritty and absolutely a wonderful person. She was world-class.”
Saratoga Senior Population Booms: Plans Underway for New & Improved Senior Center
SARATOGA SPRINGS — More than three million residents aged 65 and older currently live in New York, reflecting a boom of older adults during the past decade in nearly every corner of the state.
Saratoga County – which has experienced a 55 percent spike over the past decade - depicts the largest county growth in the elder population statewide, dwarfing neighboring communities in Albany County (a 23 percent increase), Rensselaer County (a 32 percent increase), and Schenectady County, which experienced a 13 percent increase in its older adult population over the past decade, according to the Center for an Urban Future analysis of the U.S. Census from 2007-2017.
In specific numbers, the 65-plus age group in Saratoga County has increased by 14,300 from 2007 to 2017, from just over 26,000 to more than 40,000. The county’s under-65 population meanwhile has remained relatively flat during that same period.
To meet current trends, the Saratoga Senior Center, located in Saratoga Springs, is making plans to build a new senior center to accommodate the explosive growth in senior population.
“When I took over in 2010, we served 300 seniors a year, now we have more than 2,000 a year, and every day we have 125-150 seniors walk through our doors,” says Lois Celeste, the agency’s executive director.
Founded as the Golden Age Club in 1955, the Center started with just 35 members. The group purchased their own building at 162 Circular St. in 1960. A larger and more modern facility named The Robert Gass Senior Center was erected in May 1979 at 5 Williams St.
“We’re out of space and we need to build a larger facility to serve our existing population and for the influx of ‘boomers’ to come in the very near future,” Celeste says. “We looked at the current building to see if we could expand, but we can’t really go out, or up,” she says of the agency’s Williams Street location, which stands in a city-owned building.
The agency is currently involved in siting a new venue in Saratoga Springs. Celeste isn’t prepared to specifically identify the site at this point as project details have yet to be finalized, but explains that the agency has plans for a new, larger building that could be announced “in the next couple of months,” with a targeted completion of the new center expected in 2021.
The announcement of a new building comes as the non-profit, non-residential community center celebrates its 65th anniversary.
At the Center, adults age 50-and-over can join for $25 per year and participate in programs, trips and social activities tailored to adults and seniors.
Earlier this month, the Center started opening its doors on Saturdays to accommodate the growing demand and changing needs of its seniors. The expanded activities – grant funding was provided by the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust – feature varied activities such as yoga, dance, billiards, computer skills training and arts workshops, and take place 9 a.m. – noon on Saturdays.
The Saratoga Senior Center will also host a “Leap Of Kindness Day” from 10 a.m. – Noon on Saturday, Feb. 29. The event is free and open to the public.
The Saratoga Senior Center is located at 5 Williams St., Saratoga Springs. For more information, call 518-584-1621, or go to: saratogaseniorcenter.org.
The Last Picture Show
GREENWICH – Bob Gustafson was 38 years old when Macaulay Culkin stared back at him from the video store shelves, a look of shock on the child’s face after being accidentally left “Home Alone” by his family on their Christmas vacation.
Gustafson, who today is 67, is old enough to remember when the Video Home System videocassette format – that is, VHS - was first introduced in North America and the subsequent VHS vs. Betamax format wars that followed. During his time in the industry, he’s seen the bricks-and-mortar retail delivery of movies accompanied by the advent of things like Netflix and YouTube, Hulu and Amazon Prime, Thumb Drives, DVDs, Blu-ray, Digital Download, Cable TV’s Video-on-Demand, and a myriad of other movie streaming services.
“In June it will be 30 years since I started this,” says Gustafson flanked by the 10,000 or so titles inside his shop, Video Korner II. He estimates those titles are pretty evenly split between DVD’s and VHS tapes, which he still rents as two movies for two days at a rental cost of two dollars. But, the clock is ticking; those days coming to an end.
After 30 years, he says, “I’m going to retire.” He was asked if he’s got any set plans following his retirement. “Not a ding-dang thing,” he says with a laugh. “I’m going to take it easy for a while.”
Gustafson anticipates soon putting the store and the land he owns which it sits upon up for sale. He says he’s already got a person who is interested in the property, and that the proposal does not include the continuation of a video store.
Gustafson first got in to the business in 1990 when he and a partner opened a 500-square-foot store at the far end of the village in Greenwich. The partners started their business with 500 movies and built our own shelves. A few years later, Gustafson bought his co-owner him out of the partnership and has been operating the business on his own ever since. In 2000, he relocated the business to Main Street, bought the land and constructed a free-standing building more than six times the size of the original store. He re-named it Video Korner II. Business was booming, and he says he paid off his 20-year mortgage in 4-1/2 years.
“How many video stores are even left in this country today?” Gustafson asks.
In July 2000, Billboard Magazine reported there were nearly 28,000 video rental storefronts in the U.S. By 2004, video rental lender Blockbuster was at its peak, boasting about 9,000 stores globally. Today, a Blockbuster store in the city of Bend, Oregon is the only one which remains. In December 2017, financial news and opinion company 24/7 Wall St. published an article on rapidly changing industries, and reported that about 86% of the 15,300 video rental stores that were operating in 2007 had, by a decade later, been shuttered.
“I have people tell me they watch them on their telephone. How do you compete against that?” asks Gustafson, who despite the changing video retail industry says the state of the industry has nothing to do with his moving on. Simply, the time has come for him to retire.
“It’s time. It’s been the best job I ever had; there’s nothing like being your own boss.”
As far as the movie titles and all those VHS tapes, Gustafson says he’s not sure what will happen with the inventory. For now, he’s letting his customers know of his future plans are and putting together a list of titles they’re interested in purchasing when a sale of the location is finalized.
Video Korner II is located at 40 Main St., Greenwich, and is open 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Saratoga Springs 2020 Updates
City Mayor Meg Kelly Delivers State of The City Address
Parking Garage • City Hall Opens • Firehouse • Green Belt
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Accompanied by the members of the City Council and city supervisors, Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly on Jan. 28 led the annual State of The City address.
Kelly referenced challenges faced during last year’s SOTC address, the status of those challenges, and city goals in the new year.
“At that time, we were facing the results of the lightning strike of 2018 - an extraordinary event that tested us - took us out of the safety and comfort of our workplace and moved us into a gym,” Mayor Kelly said, recalling the results of a mid-August storm which caused extensive fire and water damage to City Hall. The building housed they city’s government and its court system. Workers were relocated to the Vanderbilt Avenue recreation center, and the city court to Lincoln Baths – quarters where each have remained since.
“This year, we are facing a more positive challenge: a smooth return to a repaired City Hall that has been renovated to meet the needs of city government in the year 2020.” City departments have notified the Department of Public Works that they would be prepared to move back into the building at the end of February.
“We plan to begin our transition back into City Hall at the end of next month,” reported Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco, whose department spearheaded the renovation and restoration of the near 150-year-old building. A final price tag is not yet known, but previous estimates placed the renovation/restoration costs at just over $11 million, and an anticipation that the city would recover $4 to $5 million of those costs via insurance.
The “new” City Hall will feature upgraded plumbing and electrical, an HVAC system providing temperature controls throughout the building, the installation of lightning protection to ensure such a strike never happens again, and realized energy efficiencies with LED lighting and the removal of window air conditioning units, Scirocco said.
Additionally, the Music Hall will be preserved and enhanced and once again host events, and in its renovation project the city satisfied the state mandate for a second hearing room and adequate court space for a second full-time City Court judge.
With the recreation center used to house city business throughout 2019, the Recreation Department responded to the loss of its space by fostering relationships with the YMCA, Saratoga Springs Schools, St. Clements School, Spa Catholic High School and Gavin Park in Wilton to regroup and reestablish programs for children and adults, Mayor Kelly said. “Hats off and endless thanks to the employees of the City of Saratoga Springs.”
Highlighted achievements during 2019 and plans for 2020:
• The East Side Fire Station, currently slated to be sited on Henning Rd., is closer to realization than any time in recent history.
• The Geyser Road Trail project, idling since 2008, is ready for groundbreaking. The resolution of Lawsuits that had stalled have been resolved, allowing the project to move forward. The planning department led the work to secure the funding, complete the bidding process, and prepare the contract for its construction.
• The Code Blue emergency homeless shelter has found a new temporary home on Adelphi Street, where it will be sited for two years. Through strong working relationships among city, county and Shelters of Saratoga (S.O.S.) leaders, Mayor Kelly said: “We expect long-term solutions to homelessness to be built upon these relationships.”
• The development of the City Center Parking Structure and Flat Rock Centre is underway.
• As part of the Uniform Development Ordinance (UDO), the city is updating the zoning ordinance to be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2015. The draft UDO was recently presented to the City Council and was the focus of three public workshops. “This is another very important project that will continue into 2020,” Kelly said.
• Workforce Housing: The city facilitated the purchase of two workforce housing units through the city’s Workforce Housing Program. Regarding affordable housing, the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority broke ground on The Promenade affordable housing project at Stonequist. The project includes 63 affordable housing units – 18 townhouses, and 45 apartments; Pre-construction efforts on two new buildings with 24 units of affordable housing at the Jefferson Street Terraces are underway; A project on the west side - called Intrada - includes 158 affordable housing units, as well as over 10 acres for public recreation. Two of the four Intrada buildings were completed.
• Saratoga Collaborative to End Homelessness: Staff and public officials will participate in both the design and leadership teams during the first 100-day “sprint cycle” of the Saratoga Collaborative to End Homelessness. The project is spearheaded by Shelters of Saratoga and Presbyterian New England Congregational Church. During this sprint cycle, specific solutions will be designed, tested, and implemented.
• In 2019, the Building Department reports there was a 12% increase in permit applications compared to the previous year, with 16% more permits issued. Inspectors performed 2,410 inspections in 2019, an annual increase of 9% over 2018.
• On Jan. 21, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled his 2020-2021 Executive Budget. Among the items listed, Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) aid for the city of Saratoga Springs has been eliminated. In 2020, the city anticipated receiving $2.3 in VLT aid revenue, which equates to 5% of the city’s general operating budget. As a goal, the city aims to have that aid restored.
• This year, the Canfield Casino in Congress Park will celebrate its 150th anniversary. DPW is planning a celebration of the milestone. The City Historian announced it will present a program on April 29 titled: Convention Hall 1893 – 1965. The program, part of a new series called “Rec Talks,” is designed to encourage members of the community to share their Convention Hall stories
• Newly elected Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton reported the police department is currently staffed with 74 sworn police officers, including three recent academy graduates and four recruits in the current academy, and five sergeants currently deployed on military duty. The police department employs 17 civilian employees, including 11 dispatchers, three Parking Enforcement Officers - two of whom are also Animal Control Officers, and 2 employees for records management. The police department responded to 29,394 calls for service in 2019; The Saratoga Springs Fire Department is staffed with 64 firefighters who provide both fire and EMS response services for the city. Last year the fire department received 3,670 emergency medical calls and responded to 67 fires.
• 2020 marks the start of a four-year, $4.2 million water infrastructure improvement plan to upgrade undersized water mains; the replacement of four and six-inch mains with eight-inch water mains will improve water delivery to the public. DPW will also undertake significant upgrades to the Water Treatment Plant this year. A planned water treatment intake valve replacement project will replace 3, circa 1800’s intake valves, bringing water from Loughberry Lake into the plant. A section of the intake lines and an overflow structure from approximately the 1870s will also be replaced. This replacement project represents a $2.3 million investment.
• At the county level, construction will continue on a new public safety facility in the town of Milton near the jail, to expand administrative space for the Sheriff’s Office, as well as to move the probation and Public Health departments to that space. Regarding VLT aid, the county stands to lose about $775,000 in revenue, and plans to bring a full board resolution to its February meeting to advocate for the funds.