City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The City Council this week unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the sale of city-owned property at the southwest corner of Caroline and Henry streets.
The property currently serves as a 19-space parking lot and is located next to the Saratoga Springs Public Library.
Listed as two lots on the county tax map, the city says the lots – which it has owned since the early 1980s - have been recently appraised and determined to have a fair market value of about $500,000 and plans to sell it through a competitive bidding process.
The city cited construction of the City Center Authority parking lot as having rendered the paved Henry Street lot as no longer useful, and notes efforts “to mitigate the serious financial impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Visually prominent on Henry Street is a large mural depicting a six-piece musical ensemble, which clings to a brick wall on Caroline Street. The mural was painted in 1998 by the Youth in Saratoga Mentoring Program of Catholic Charities, with funds administered by the Saratoga Arts Council.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A schematic design of the proposed Fire/EMS Station 3 was presented to the city this week.
The one-story building measures 15,500 square feet, features dark green siding with white trim, and will be centered on a 2.4-acre parcel the city is leasing from the state at the east end of the Oklahoma Training Track property, with a drive-in entry on Henning Road.
The city’s two other stations are located in close proximity downtown, and on the west side, respectively. Station 3 will largely serve residents on the city’s east side.
Review of the design will be referred to the city Planning Board and Design Review Commission for their advisory opinions.
Environmental assessments are anticipated to be completed in July to be followed by the completion of final detailed building plans in January 2022. If that timeline stays true, the city can start receiving bids in February 2022 with construction to begin two months later.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city this week discussed legislation signed March 31 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo legalizing adult-use cannabis.
The new law in New York legalizes use and possession of cannabis of up to three ounces for those over 21 and older.
”I realize our last City Council meeting was actually on 4/20, and if I had been more clever I would have discussed this then,” quipped city attorney Vince DeLeonardis, referencing the April 20 or 4/20 so-called national holiday for cannabis culture.
DeLeonardis told the council that multiple state agencies are being established to administer programs, issue licenses, and investigate and enforce infractions related to cannabis. The agencies include the NYS Cannabis Control Board and the Office of Cannabis Management.
“This is anticipated to be very similar as to how the state regulates alcohol through the State Liquor Authority,” DeLeonardis said.
Besides the newly legislated use and possession of cannabis in New York, the law allows for retail dispensaries and on-site consumption establishments, but those are not expected to take place until at least late 2022. Municipalities do have the ability to opt-out of allowing these, but to do so they must adopt a Local Law by Dec. 31, 2021, which will also be subject to a public referendum.
Revenue-wise, there will be a 4% tax imposed upon the cannabis, with 3% of that 4% coming to the city. In other words, if the city of Saratoga Springs does not opt-out it would receive 75% of the 4% tax, and Saratoga County would receive the other 25%.
That 4/20 designation, according to an article published by Time magazine in 2018, traces back to five students at a Marin County, California high school, who in the early 1970s would say “420” to each other as code for marijuana, in advance of their meeting at 4:20 p.m. by a campus statue “to partake.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — We can learn a lot from one another, even if we may never meet. So, what is daily life like for you?
The Saratoga Springs Public Library has launched a project to connect New Yorkers across the diverse state landscape through the act of letter-writing.
The project was inspired by Sue Johnson, who first brought the idea to the Saratoga Springs Public Library a year ago after having participated in a similar program from Oregon Humanities called, “Dear Stranger” - a project which since 2014 has seen almost 1,000 people exchange letters.
Dear New Yorker is a creative writing project that allows people living in and around New York state to create connections through writing letters to other New Yorkers. Saratoga Springs Public Library is the host of the project.
Here’s how it works: Participants pen a letter, send it to the library and then the library will match it and send it off to another letter writer. Volunteers will log and keep track of correspondences, but all participant addresses will be kept confidential and not shared with other participants. The only thing the letter recipient will get is your first name and letter - no contact information.
Participating in the project means someone in the state will receive your letter and you will receive one from someone else. The anonymous exchange provides the opportunity to share experiences about life across many miles.
“What’s a day in the life in your town? What do you like about it? What makes your town unique?” Johnson says. “Our state is so diverse, and in so many ways.”
The project recognizes that a lot can be learned from our neighbors across the state, even if we may never meet one another.
While participants in the project may eventually have the opportunity to exchange addresses, all letters will be exchanged anonymously. “Strictly anonymous, unless the two parties decide they want to carry on and write to each other,” Johnson says. The letters participants receive will come from the library’s address, to ensure participant addresses are kept confidential.
Interested in taking part? Here are some guidelines: include your full name and address on the envelope you send to the library so the library knows who to send a letter back to. Do NOT include your address on the letter itself and please do NOT include offensive language or inappropriate topics. Once you have written your letter, mail the letter to: Saratoga Springs Public Library c/o J. Ogrodowski/Dear NYer, 49 Henry Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.
For more information: https:guides.sspl.org/dearnyer
SARATOGA SPRINGS – In a joint decision by Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) and New York City Ballet (NYCB), SPAC has announced that due to the ongoing health and safety concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic and guidelines mandated by the State of New York, NYCB will not return to its summer home in Saratoga Springs with the full company this July.
Instead, a small group of NYCB dancers and musicians will present NYCB On and Off Stage, an intimate, up-close look at selected excerpts from the company’s extraordinary repertory of ballets. This series of educational programs has never before been presented for Saratoga audiences.
NYCB On and Off Stage is slated for six shows from July 14-17 and will feature two special presentations. All shows will be hosted by a NYCB Principal Dancer who will introduce the excerpts and provide insights on each ballet.
SPAC and New York City Ballet have also confirmed that the traditional residency engagement with the full company will be presented in 2022 from July 12-16.
The NYCB On and Off Stage presentations will be offered in compliance with the current guidelines from the Governor to ensure the health and safety of artists, audience members and staff. As required by New York State, all attendees of the series will be required to show either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72-hours of the event.
NYCB On and Off Stage will showcase two distinct programs suitable for audiences of all ages including an "All Balanchine" presentation, illuminating the expansive repertory of Founding Choreographer George Balanchine with excerpts from masterworks including Apollo, The Four Temperaments, Agon, Jewels, and Who Cares?, and a program entitled "Short Stories," exploring beloved narrative ballets like Firebird, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Western Symphony, Fancy Free, and The Concert.
Both programs will feature an ensemble of 15 New York City Ballet dancers in costume performing excerpts from the Company's world-renowned repertory, with live musical accompaniment provided by pianists from NYCB.
This new format represents an innovative and safe way to bring dance to the community, while adhering to carefully mapped out, socially distanced seating and rigorous COVID protocols both in SPAC’s public spaces and backstage.
"While we will miss the big, lush productions for which City Ballet is renowned, the safety of the artists, audience members and staff is our greatest priority,” said Elizabeth Sobol, President and CEO of SPAC, in a statement.
“When thinking about SPAC and re-opening, in addition to considering the audience members in our public spaces, we also have to make certain that the backstage, dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces and stage are all safe. This would not be possible with the complete NYCB organization of nearly 100 dancers, 62 orchestra members in the pit and the many production crew members and staff members backstage, as is necessary for a full-scale NYCB engagement. Bringing this new format to SPAC for 2021 ensures that we will be able to effectively create a safe environment for all," Sobol said.
The full schedule is as follows: WEDNESDAY, JULY 14 @ 7:30 PM – Short Stories; THURSDAY, JULY 15 @ 2 PM – All Balanchine; THURSDAY, JULY 15 @ 7:30 PM – Short Stores; FRIDAY, JULY 16 @ 7:30 PM – All Balanchine; SATURDAY, JULY 17 @ 2 PM – Short Stories; SATURDAY, JULY 17 @ 7:30 PM – All Balanchine.
The presentations will all be approximately 75 minutes long with no intermission. Each program will be hosted by a beloved NYCB Principal Dancer who will be retiring from the company during the 2021-22 New York Season – Maria Kowroski will host the Short Stories presentation; and Gonzalo Garcia will host the All Balanchine presentation
SPAC Members will have early ticket access depending on membership level, beginning on May 3. Tickets for the public will be available to purchase on May 10. Designated pods of two will be allocated and reserved for ticket buyers in the amphitheater, while designed pods of two and four will be available on the SPAC lawn. Amphitheater tickets start at $80 per pod, which seats up to two people. Lawn tickets are available to purchase for $60 for a two-person pod, or $120 for a four-person pod. Single tickets will be extremely limited and available starting at $40 for the amphitheater and $30 for the lawn. Advance ticket purchases are strongly advised as ticket availability will be limited. If available, tickets will be on sale on the day of, but are subject to an additional fee.
COVID-19 Safety & Protocols:
SPAC will be adhering to all mandated NYS guidelines and therefore all attendees are required to show proof of a completed vaccination no sooner than 14 days prior to the event or a negative 72-hour COVID-19 test. In addition, attendees are required to complete a health screening questionnaire and pass a mandatory temperature check prior to entry. Guests are required to wear a face mask at all times, regardless of proof of vaccination or negative test. Guests are permitted to bring factory sealed water bottles and essential personal items only. Restrooms will be available with social distancing and enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols in place in accordance with recommended guidelines.
For proof of vaccination, either a vaccination card or NYS Excelsior Pass is acceptable, according to a SPAC spokesperson. Visit spac.org for more details.
Filming for two upcoming HBO series - “The Gilded Age,” and “The White House Plumbers” - will set their sights in the Capital Region over the next few months, and a New York City based casting company is looking for locals to portray various roles as extras.
“The Gilded Age” will site filming locations in Troy in May and June. For this production, Grant Wilfley Casting is seeking men, women, and children from Troy, Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga Springs to portray various roles as extras in the series.
The story of “The Gilded Age” begins in 1882 against a backdrop of change, during a period of immense economic change, of huge fortunes made and lost, and the rise of disparity between old money and new.
“The Gilded Age,” comes from the creator of Downton Abbey.
Actors Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City), Carrie Coon (The Leftovers), Morgan Spector (Boardwalk Empire), Denée Benton, Louisa Jacobson, Taissa Farmiga, Blake Ritson, Simon Jones, Harry Richardson, Thomas Cocquerel, Jack Gilpin and Jeanne Tripplehorn (Big Love) have all signed on to the series.
Requirements for locals interested in working as extras in the series: must be OK working around smoke and have natural-colored hair.
In order to be considered or booked, you must be registered with Grant Wilfey Casting. To register, go to: https://gwci.app/talent/
A second upcoming HBO series, “The White House Plumbers,” will be filming in Hudson Valley starting in May and in Albany in late Summer / early Fall.
Based in part on public records and the book “Integrity,” by Egil “Bud” Krogh and Matthew Krogh, the five-part limited series “The White House Plumbers” will tell the true story of how Nixon’s own political saboteurs and Watergate masterminds, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, accidentally toppled the presidency they were trying to protect.
Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux will star as Hunt and Liddy, respectively.
For this production, Grant Wilfley Casting is seeking Albany locals to portray various roles as extras in the HBO limited series, which takes place in the early 1970s.
Requirements: Anyone interested in working on either project should note the following extra (aka Background) work is PAID; adults must be OK working around atmospheric smoke; men must be ok growing hair out and/or getting a period appropriate hair cut; everyone must attend a costume fitting prior to filming, and mandatory COVID testing will be provided by production.
To be considered, anyone can register for free at https://www.gwci.app/talent/. When registering, be sure to: Select Hudson Valley and/ or Albany as your employment area (you may select multiple employment areas); Upload at least two recent photos (a close up and a full body shot); Fill out ALL required fields and press save; Fill out as many non-required fields as possible.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Rochmon Record Club will meet Tuesday, April 20 at Caffe Lena to listen and learn about Hall and Oates – Greatest Hits Part 1 “All Killer, No Filler.”
There are a limited number of tickets for the in-person event, which will also be livestreamed.
A Rochmon Record Club Listening Party is meant to inform and deepen our understanding of the history of the individual performers, songs and the stories that went into the making of this classic album. By listening together, we get to hear the music again for the first time.
Daryl Hall and John Oates are one of the most successful writing duos in music history. Rochmon will play, show pictures, and tell stories about 11 Hall & Oates Top 40 Hits staring from 1973’s “She’s Gone.”
The duo arrived in New York City in the early 1970s and hung around the infamous Max’s Kansas City. “Always interesting people, always good music, decent food; it was a very cool place to hang out. We actually played there a bunch of times as well. We even opened for Bruce Springsteen there in 1973,” Oates told journalist Chris Epting, co-writer of Oates’ memoir, in a piece published last week by the website Please Kill Me.
“Andy (Warhol) would still be there once in a while and we would get to know him really well later on. But it also became another home away from home for the New York Dolls.” Oates recalled “one frigid December late night,” waiting for his date to show up. “She said she would come over and meet me, so I settled in on the sofa and began strumming my acoustic guitar to pass the time. 9 o’clock became 10 o’clock became 11 o’clock. No girl. I had been stood up.”
He kept strumming. And adding words. “I started singing this folky little refrain: ‘She’s Gone…Oh I better learn how to face it…She’s Gone Oh I…” The disappointment of getting stood up didn’t last long but that simple melody and chord progression was about go on forever.” The very next day, Oates got together with John Hall and his Wurlitzer electric piano. “The song almost wrote itself through our hands. In less than an hour, ‘She’s Gone’ was born and in a way, so were we.”
For information about how to attend the event or to watch live online, go to: caffelena.org.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — All five seats on the City Council, as well as both supervisor positions, will be up for vote in November. Of those five council positions, at least four will look different, effectively creating a major overhaul of governing powers in City Hall.
To date, 11 potential candidates have filed “designated petitions” to run for the five council seats. Six candidates have similarly filed regarding the city’s two supervisor positions up for election.
This week, Democrat Ron Kim announced his candidacy for city mayor.
“We have gone through difficult times. We’ve lost good friends. We have seen suffering. We have witnessed injustice. As a community we will only recover if we come together,” Kim said, during his announcement staged in front of Saratoga Springs’ 9/11 Memorial in High Rock Park. Former elected city Democrats Peter Martin and Tom McTygue were in attendance.
“I want to help this community come together. I will do it as your next mayor, as the People’s Mayor working for all of us,” Kim said. “In this new post-pandemic era, we need to have a kinder and more effective city government.”
Kim, a local lawyer who served as Saratoga Springs’ Commissioner of Public Safety from 2006 to 2010, said If elected mayor, his top priorities would include building a long-discussed eastside public safety station, assisting city businesses in reopening safely while also developing long-term strategies to protect their viability, “reimagining” the city police force so there is accountability and transparency, and working with federal and state funding to develop green policies that create a carbon neutral Saratoga Springs by 2030.
The position of city mayor is one of several seats on the city council that will be inhabited by new candidates. Eight-term Accounts Commissioner John Franck, five-term Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan and two-term Mayor Meg Kelly have each announced they will not seek reelection. Additionally, current Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton recently announced she will seek re-election, but that she will do so as a “no party” member, after changing her party registration to no longer being an active member of the GOP.
WHO IS RUNNING:
The 17 designated petitions filed by candidates are aligned with the four currently existing political parties. Recent changes in election law have altered the landscape regarding the number of political parties. Voters previously registered with the Green, Libertarian, Independence, or SAM party, are now considered No Party (NOP). The four political parties that now remain in New York State are Democratic, Republican, Conservative, and Working Families.
The deadline for candidates to file designated petitions was March 25. Independent petitions - that is, potential candidates interested in running for a city position under a newly created party – may still actively pursue their candidacy. In Saratoga Springs specifically, these independent candidates would need to secure 305 signatures. The timing-window to secure those signatures begins April 13, and they must be filed the week of May 18-25.
What this means is that in addition to the 17 candidates aligned with existing parties vying for seven city seats, additional candidates, independent of the four existing parties, are expected to soon come forward. Of the 17, only three currently hold office and are seeking re-election.
According to the Saratoga County Board of Elections, the 17 candidates who have filed designated petitions, their party affiliation, and the seat they seek is as follows:
Mayor: Ronald Kim (D), Heidi Owen (R, C).
Accounts: Dillon Moran (D), Samantha Guerra (R,C).
DPW: Domenique Yermolayev (D), Anthony “Skip” Scirocco INCUMBENT (R, C).
Finance: Minita Sanghvi (D), Joanne Kiernan (R,C), Sierra Hunt (WF).
Public Safety: James Montagnino (D), Tracey Labelle (R,C).
Supervisor (two seats): Tara Gaston INCUMBENT (D, WF), Shaun Wiggins (D), Matthew Veitch INCUMBENT (R,C), John Safford (R,C), Bruce Altimar (WF), Gabriel O’Brien (WF).
Supervisor seats will be up for vote in nearly all county municipalities in November, as well as an array of council and justice positions. County Sheriff and County Clerk will also be up for vote at Saratoga County.
In Saratoga Springs, among approximately 20,000 registered voters, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by about 2,000, according to the most recent (Feb. 21) party affiliation enrollment report from the New York State Board of Elections. That percent breakdown is roughly registered Democrats: 42%, registered Republicans: 32%, registered but unaffiliated with any party: 25%. City voters registered with the Conservative, and the Working Families parties account for the remaining less than 1%.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – An eight-week course of classes in mindfulness meditation and stress reduction will take place - in person - at Caffe Lena, starting April 10.
The Saturday Morning Sessions are held 8:30 to 10 a.m. and run April 10 through May 29 and provide instruction in formal mindfulness meditation methods including a body scan, gentle yoga, sitting meditation and walking meditation.
“We know from research that the eight weeks works well for major changes in people’s mental health and well-being. And we do know it creates lasting traits like tolerance, patience, loving kindness, compassion,” says Pierre Zimmerman, of One Roof holistic health center in Saratoga Springs.
The practices offer students a means of self-regulation and encourage the cultivation of greater awareness. Students learn to reduce their particular symptoms of psychological and somatic distress as well as to respond to challenges with less reactivity and greater clarity. The course also provides instruction in informal mindfulness meditation practices such as being in nature and eating with awareness.
Midway through the course, students learn about the physiology of stress and how it relates to their individual stress reactivity patterns. Using the latest scientific research, we explore how the act of mindful noticing activates innate internal resources that can change our perception of daily events, including stressful ones. This altered appraisal allows students to use a broader range of both internal and external responses so that they need not remain locked in stress patterns.
The Stress Relief & Management program takes place at Caffe Lena, 47 Phila St. Pre-registration is required. Masks must be worn at all times, and coronavirus safety measures, including distancing, will be practiced.
The complete schedule and fee information is available at: https://www.oneroofsaratoga.com/saratoga-stress-reduction/. To register or for more information, call 581-3180 and contact the administrative director at ext. 300 or Dr. Selma Nemer at ext. 307.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The work continues at the Oklahoma Training Track where an approximate-$1 million project is underway.
The New York Racing Association received approval from the New York State Franchise Oversight Board in January to proceed with improvements of the training track in advance of the anticipated 2021 racing season.
The upgrades will include a new base, improved drainage, a width expansion of the track where possible, and a plan for new safety railings – which specifically accounts for about $350,000 of that estimated $1 million cost.
Members of the Franchise Oversight Board said in January they were working with Saratoga preservationists related to the width expansion of the track, as the project will likely impact existing pine trees that were planted alongside the track in the mid-1980s. The training track has not had any significant renovation in 40 years.
The Oklahoma Training Track signals the start of “spring training,” in advance of the summer racing meet at the main track located across the street at Union Avenue. It typically opens in April, although in the pandemic-affected year of 2020, a delayed opening pushed the opening to the first week of June. Last year’s summer meet was held without fans in attendance.