Thursday, 23 March 2023 12:49

Saratoga Springs City Council: March 21

Michael Phillips. Photo provided. Michael Phillips. Photo provided.

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: 

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