SARATOGA SPRINGS – Joanne D. Yepsen, 56, (DEM, WF) is seeking a second term as Mayor of Saratoga Springs. We met for her interview in the Beekman Arts District, where it became clear that it was a favorite place because she had a history to tell of several of the buildings and businesses as we walked along the street.
“I love the arts and this mixed-use district,” she said. “Everything about this section is a microcosm of our city history.” She recalled a cleanup party at 69 Beekman; noted Beekman Street Bistro as the city’s first farm-to-table restaurant; and spoke highly of the growth of the Textile Studio. She said she was proud of her contributions to the area and throughout the city during her time in public service.
Among her accomplishments as mayor, she listed the resolution of labor contracts; ending homelessness for veterans in the city; preservation of the Pitney Farm; the first updated comprehensive plan in 14 years; opening the waterfront park and more. “What an amazing year, Centennial Year 2015,” Yepsen said. “Moving forward, we need to be really proactive regarding the economy. The Textile Studio is an example of the creative economy creating jobs, but we also have the performing arts, the high tech industry, hospitality and tourism, and encouraging the film industry here.”
If elected to another term, Yepsen also wants to – among other things – continue work on the greenbelt-downtown connector; increasing the city’s walkable and bikeable status; and start to do a full Complete Street plan. Yepsen prioritizes the “city in the country” theme, and is seeking to balance City Center parking needs with potential mixed-use proposals, such as workforce housing.
For the golf resort proposal by Saratoga National, she said she is seeking a “full conservation easement assurances, assurances that the greenbelt trail will be built on the property, nothing short of a 3,000 foot setback, and minimum of 90 percent open space preserved.”
She said the applicant keeps changing the proposal, but she wants to work with them because she doesn’t want to see the property sold and turned into 40 houses. “To me, that’s sprawl,” Yepsen said. “There’s going to have to be some very tight clustering to keep as much green space as possible. We’ll be working with the special assessment district and downtown businesses – which are our staple – because we can’t have retail and commercial sprawl there, either. We have to be careful not to set precedents and look at the overall plan.”
For Yepsen’s biographical information and endorsements, please visit LWVSaratoga.org.