Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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SARATOGA SPRINGS — Anthony Scirocco, Jr. says he has decided to take the “humbling, emotional and inspirational” step to follow in his late father’s footsteps and carry on the traditions and legacy that his father worked to build in the city.

His father, Anthony “Skip” Scirocco died in April, early in his two-year term as Commissioner of Public Works. 

Scirocco Jr., who has received the support of the local Republican Committee, officially announced his candidacy this week for the November election that will fill the DPW seat for the calendar year 2023 – the remainder of the term. Jason Golub, recently appointed to the vacant seat for the balance of 2022 by the City Council, has received the backing of the local Democratic Committee, and will also run in the November election. 

Scirocco, who is 53, has more than 20 years’ experience in the DPW at Saratoga County, starting as a laborer and working his way up to county maintenance supervisor. This will be his first venture into politics. 

“I don’t know that I harbored any aspirations of running for office. My father did. I thought he would do it for a little bit longer, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way,” Scirocco says. His father - who held elected posts as Saratoga County Supervisor from 1998 to 2005, and Saratoga Springs DPW Commissioner from 2008 to 2022 – was the one who convinced him to run for office. 

“My mother came over to my house one day and said, ‘Your father wants to talk with you, can you go up and see him at the hospital?’ So I went and we talked. He said to me: ‘I’d like you to take my spot at the DPW. I think you can do it. I think you’re the guy.’ 

“Well, this was all new to me. I said: Geez, I don’t really know. It’s a big step. He said, ‘Ah, you can do it. You have a DPW background.’ I was kind of taken aback at it. That he thought that about me. That I could do it. If anyone knows Skip, his passion and his love for the city is unquestioned. For him to feel that highly of me…What really got me is when he said: ‘You know the stars are aligning for you.’ 

“Here he is, in the hospital, and this is what he’s thinking. I was kind of overwhelmed by it. Every time I went back to see him, that’s all he wanted to talk about.”

The younger Scirocco spent time thinking the process through. “I’ve seen the commitment it takes, the amount of time it entails, some of the abuse you have to take when you run. I’ve seen it all with my father in the 20-something years of him running. I talked to my mother, I talked to my family. My father always had a sense of purpose, of giving back and doing, of making a difference. So, I came to the commitment that I would run.” 

In the city’s commission form of governing, each of the five councilmembers – four commissioners and a mayor – oversee their own specific departments, as well as count for one vote each in the majority rule of deciding city matters. The term pays an annual salary of $14,500. Scirocco says he plans to maintain his current job. If victorious in securing the one-year term, he said he would consider running again during the normal election cycle for the two-year term in November 2023. 

Among his goals for the city, Scirocco says he would plan to maintain his father’s plan. It is what he calls “the four core principles of Skip’s administration” - open space, historic preservation, infrastructure improvements and service. He also has ideas to implement some of his own, such as creating a five-year blacktop plan for city roads that would grade the condition of city roads and highlight which ones would be tended to, and in what order. Such a plan would aid everyone from developers to utility companies, he says, by providing knowledge about which areas would be given attention and when, going forward. 

“That’s something that’s not there and would be good to have in the future,” he says. “I’d also like to convince the City Council to re-invest some of the VLT aid money and some of the racecourse admission funds it receives to be set aside for use to blacktop.” He’s also in favor of adding an additional city attorney. 

“It will be a clean, fact-filled campaign. Jason (Golub) is a smart guy, and at the end of the day we’re both Saratogians and want what’s best for Saratoga,” he says, stressing city needs above politics. “The Republicans backed me and that’s great, but if I win, I’m not just going to just plow Republican streets. We’re going to fix everyone’s pipes, everybody is going to have clean water,” he says. “One of the things I learned from my father was his ability to get along with everyone, and to be able to work with everybody.” 

Look for a profile of Jason Golub in an upcoming edition of Saratoga TODAY. 

BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors gathered for their full monthly meeting June 21, at the county complex in Ballston Spa. 

Among the measures approved by the Board: 

• An agreement with Motorola Solutions, Inc. for upgrades to the county’s 800mhz emergency radio system infrastructure. The Board cited “the need to strengthen our system’s infrastructure from cyber intrusion.” The one-year agreement begins July 1 and authorizes a cost of up to $1.5 million. 

• The Board targeted $3.34 million in ARPA funds for additional roadway and bridge rehabilitation projects in the town of Milton and town of Wilton. The specific bridge rehabilitation projects are located on County Route 49 over the Kayaderosseras Creek in Milton, and rehabilitation of 1.84 miles of County Route 33 in Wilton. In March 2021, the Federal Government passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”), making those funds eligible to be utilized for general government services including highway and bridge infrastructure repair and rehabilitation. 

• The Board approved the creation of an assistant county attorney position at a base salary of $94,188 to aid in County Public Health Services’ transition to a full-service health department. The salary and fringe costs associated with the position are anticipated to be partially reimbursable through funding and grants administered by the New York State Department of Health and/or Health Research, Inc.

• A Bond resolution was approved authorizing the issuance of $6.974 million bonds to finance the cost of various Capital Projects, and related SEQR act determination. 

Among the items is the purchase of a Police Department Emergeny Response Vehicle - identified as a Bearcat - for Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department use. The cost is estimated as up to $300,000, and is anticipated to have a five year period of usefulness. A variety of other county-use equipment purchases are anticipated, including a dump truck, water truck, bucket truck and other similar machinery and apparatus.  The projects related to the resolution include: The reconstruction, improvement and renovation of County administrative office buildings ($1.98 million); the County Correctional Facility building ($1.1 million); the County Social Services building ($310,000), and the County Municipal Complex Building 4 ($550,000). 

The Board of Supervisors approved two public hearings to take place next month. They are:

• A Public Hearing will held at 4:35 p.m. on July 13, regarding upgrades to the Saratoga County Sewer District No. 1’s Wastewater Treatment Plant to properly treat ammonia and meet new limits proposed by an administrative order on consent imposed by DEC. 

• A Public Hearing to be held at 4:40 p.m. on July 13 on the proposed lease of real property to Prime Group Holdings, LLC for the construction, maintenance, and use of an airplane hangar on county owned airport land.

Prime Group Holdings, LLC has proposed the construction of a 15,600 square foot hangar for the storage of aircraft, a paved automobile parking area, and relocation of approximately 650 linear feet of existing airport perimeter roadway. The company has proposed to lease the property on county airport land to be located on approximately 0.73 acres of currently undeveloped land at the south end of the existing FBO apron at the Saratoga County airport, for an initial term of 20 years, subject to mutual renewal.

Prime Group Holdings will privately fund the project - including permitting, design, and construction at an estimated cost of $2.5 million, and once constructed, will maintain ownership of the hangar, including maintenance, and pay any applicable taxes.

The public hearings will take place in the Meeting Room of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors in Ballston Spa. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Songs, speeches, proclamations and poems of freedom were read, sung and recited to a packed house inside Frederick Allen Elks Lodge on Beekman Street Monday. 

The “Juneteenth Celebrate Freedom” event, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, marking the anniversary of June 19, 1865. Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021. 

“It’s great to be here, but would have made it even greater is if we never had to have this holiday – slavery, the Civil War and the continuing fight over just plain justice for everyone,” Saratoga Springs city Mayor Ron Kim told those assembled for the event. “Being here is part of that fight.” Former city mayors Ken Klotz and Joanne Yepsen, current council member Minita Sanghvi, and current Congressman Paul Tonko were among those who attended Monday’s event. 

Among those at the mic: Ethan Crowley performed his rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” actor/director and educator Eunice Ferreira – read adapted speeches of Ida B. Wells. 

The Lodge was chartered in August 1925 and the woman’s auxiliary one month later, according to city historian Mary Ann Fitzgerald. Meetings were initially held in members’ homes, then for several decades on Congress Street, when a physical venue was sited. 

During the mid-20th century, the Urban Renewal movement demolished much of the Congress Street area where a black community of homes and businesses stood. The physical location of the Lodge changed as well - relocating to Beekman Street after the Congress Street venue was destroyed in a fire in 1966.     

Kendall Hicks, leader of the Frederick Allen Lodge, welcomed the entire group to the front and closed out the day’s ceremony with a rousing chorus of “This Little Light of Mine (I’m gonna let it shine),” which came to be known as an anthem of the civil rights movement during the 1950’s and 60’s.   

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The City Council this week awarded two bids and authorized the subsequent signing of two contracts totaling more than $5 million that will move the city closer to its long-anticipated third fire station. 

“This is a momentous moment for all of us,” Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran said, while awarding the bids to Bunkoff General Contractors of Latham for up to $4.436 million, and DLC Electric of Troy for up to $638,000. In all, six companies had been vying for the contracting bid, seven for the electrical work. 

Saratoga Fire Station No. 3 will be developed at 16 Henning Road, roughly opposite the BOCES campus, and will serve the city’s eastern plateau.  The city’s two other stations are located in close proximity to downtown, and on the west side, respectively.

Plans proposed last summer depicted a one-story building measuring 15,500 square feet with dark green siding with white trim, centered on a 2.4-acre parcel. The plans may since have been slightly modified. 

Earlier this month, city Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi announced the city of Saratoga Springs sold $17,137,299 Public Improvement Serial Bonds at a Net Interest Cost of 3.90% - the proceeds of which will target several capital projects, a third fire/EMS facility among them. That fire station tops the cost list of 2022 requested, with requests of $6.7 million and $400,000. 

“The city chose to postpone financing for the construction of the third fire/EMS station during the pandemic, a fiscally prudent measure given the uncertainty of 2020 and 2021,” Sanghvi said.  “Our city has recovered to the point that we are now moving ahead with financing and construction of this vital city resource.”

SARATOGA SPRINGS — An unusually large number of burglaries have taken place at downtown businesses since the start of the month. 

Police say indications are that the robberies are the work of two men breaking into businesses during the overnight hours, stealing cash and in some cases creating general mayhem with store merchandise. 

“It was all in the area of what we refer to as the downtown business district - Broadway being the center, going out to West Avenue and between Van Dam and West Circular Street,” says Saratoga Springs Police Lt. Bob Jillson. “We had five in that vicinity, and then we had a couple of more this past weekend.” 

Investigators are reaching out to their resources, gathering prints and examining video footage in attempts to identify the people responsible for the break-ins. They are also seeking images of better quality than they have viewed thus far to potentially release to the public. 

“It looks like it’s a couple of males, going through shops and taking any money on hand,” Lt. Jillson said. 

A Church Street bike shop, West Avenue eatery, and a local wine shop are among the businesses believed to have been affected. 

“When I came in in the morning, I found the drawer of our cash register out of our register and sitting on top of the front desk with no money in it, so I immediately knew that someone was in here doing something wrong,” said Colby Smith, manager of Saratoga Signature Interiors, whose store was among those burglarized. 

He said it was the first time the shop, located on Church Street since 2003, had been robbed overnight. The desks had been rifled through and he estimated $150 to $300 was taken. Nothing appeared to be broken.

“I was talking with a detective, and we seemed to be in agreement they went through the Bilco (basement) doors – there was a footprint on it - although I’m not 100% certain. The detectives are looking into it.” The door was unlocked, he added. His was one of a handful of area shops burglarized overnight. 

“Right now, the way they’re getting in these places is an unlocked window, things like that. Let’s tighten it up. As a society we’ve gotten a sense of comfort – we don’t expect that to happen here, and lo and behold, it happens,” Lt. Jillson says. 

“We’ve been pretty fortunate to not have had any kind of sprees like this; We get a couple here and there, maybe something of opportunity, but seven or so in a matter of a week is not the norm for us,” Jillson says. “Seven of them is people going out there on a mission. Someone’s going out there with purpose to break into places, so we have to be a little defensive minded - make sure we throw that deadbolt, that the last person to go out is checking the windows are locked and make sure the police know about it so we can get out there.” 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Gaffney’s may reopen provided it meets certain criteria. The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) voted to approve the agreement during its full board meeting June 8. 

The SLA temporarily suspended the license of Saratoga Hospitality at Gaffney’s LLC, doing business as Gaffney’s, on May 3, following a series of reported incidents of violence. 

“There is a clear pattern of behavior which not only threatens public safety, but has become a drain on police resources,” SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley said at the time of the May 3 suspension. 

The June 8 proceedings noted multiple altercations and assaults that had occurred at the popular Caroline Street bar on Oct. 31, 2021, and Jan. 1, March 6 and May 1 of this year – the latter of which led to the SLA board imposing an emergency summary order of suspension two days later. Additional proceedings cited the venue as being a “focal point for police attention” last July 3 and Sept. 5, and a “sustained pattern of noise/disorder” on Sept. 5, 2021. 

One item coming to light during the recent proceeding is that Gaffney’s did not have permission to stage either live music, or to have a DJ in the six years it has operated under new ownership.   

To that point, the Method of Operations application filed by Saratoga Hospitality at Gaffney’s to the SLA checks-off “recorded” music only.  Spaces allotted for “DJ,” “Juke Box,” “Karaoke,” and “Live Music” are left blank. As to whether the premises would permit dancing, the “No” box is indicated.     

“You had an understanding with us, and it was a legal understanding. It told you what you were allowed to do, and you haven’t been doing it. Your license didn’t give you the opportunities to use DJ’s…your license didn’t allow you to have live music,” SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley told Gaffney’s representatives during the meeting. “You had live music every weekend, or about there, in the summer. You had DJ’s probably the nights you weren’t having live music – Thursday, Friday, Saturday night. Then trouble started, and you kept doing it. People got hurt. Cops got hurt.” 

The new agreed-upon conditions of the license are as follows: 

• $70,000 civil penalty to be paid within 20 days, or otherwise will cause license revocation. 

• Last Call at 1:30 a.m. and closing time at 2 a.m. Currently, and unless otherwise stipulated by county, alcohol may be sold for on-premises consumption elsewhere across New York State until 4 a.m. 

• Electronic wanding of all patrons entering the premises after 9:30 p.m.

• Use of an ID scanner for all patrons. Scanner information will be stored for 90 days.

• “Recorded background music only.” 

• Must call the police for any physical altercations. 

• “All remaining stipulations listed in the memorandum of understanding with the local police department.” The stipulations of the MOU have not yet been finalized with local police Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino, as first reported by Steve Barnes. 

On June 14, Gaffney’s issued a statement via its public relations firm. The statement, in its entirety: “We respect and intend to comply with the suspension order. We will work with the State Liquor Authority and the city of Saratoga Springs to rectify this unfortunate situation with the hope of reopening as soon as it is practicable to do so.

“We appreciate the due diligence by the State Liquor Authority for Gaffney’s to reach an agreement that will allow us to reopen our establishment at some point in the near future. The conditions set by both Gaffney’s and the SLA keep the safety of our guests of paramount importance, which has always been a top priority. As reported in the media, the challenges Caroline Street has faced have continued since we closed more than six weeks ago. We intend to help lead those efforts in collaboration with fellow establishments and the city. Further updates regarding our operations and our future will be announced in the coming weeks ahead.”

 

Correction: note an earlier version explained that unless otherwise stipulated by MUNICIPALITY, alcohol may be sold for on-premises consumption elsewhere across New York State until 4 a.m. That stipulation must be made by the COUNTY, and has been changed to reflect the correction. 


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SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga County Alliance to End Homelessness (SCAEH) hosted a roundtable discussion at the Saratoga Springs City Center June 8. 

The featured panel included elected officials, members of law enforcement, participating agencies and community partners, each of whom took their turn speaking about homeless issues and answering audience-submitted questions regarding housing, panhandling and homelessness. 

The goal of the collaborative effort between agencies and the public showcased what panelists hope is a commitment to ending homelessness in Saratoga County, and addressed everything from housing, policing, addressing mental health and overall medical needs, and support services offered. 

Addressing audience questions regarding housing possibilities for the homeless, city Mayor Ron Kim urged members of the public to come to council meetings and voice their respective opinions. 

“The City Council has over the past several years dealt with the (housing) issue. We have seen a few proposals from developers. Every time we get a proposal to do low-income or workforce housing – and those are two different levels – the (council room) is filled with people that don’t want it,” said Kim, citing specifically a failed proposal to put low-income housing behind the Price Chopper on Route 50. There have been others.

 “I want to emphasize this because people will say that the root of all this is (lack of) housing. You’ll see some proposals as we go along, and we’re very hopeful – but you need to fill the room. Because if there aren’t people who are saying ‘this ought to happen,’ there definitely will be the people who will say ‘it should not,’” the mayor said.  “If you want to see (housing for the homeless) happen, and you don’t want to see the person in the vestibule of your business, the next time you see a proposal in front of the City Council, come before us. You need to say: this is what is good for our city as a community.” 

In the days that followed the event, Shelters of Saratoga (SOS) launched a new Homeless Education Campaign which it says is aimed at educating residents and visitors about area poverty and homelessness. 

Titled “Give to Make Change,” the campaign will see informational coffee sleeves distributed at more than 50 Saratoga County Stewart’s Shops with how-to-donate instructions that SOS helps raise critical financial support for solution-based services that help end the cycle of homelessness. 

“Community-based services are effective at reducing area homelessness. SOS programs address the immediate need for temporary shelter, and work towards health and economic stabilization that forms the foundation for sustained housing,” said Duane J. Vaughn, executive director of Shelters of Saratoga. 

“Give to Make Change” will provide an educational component to a donation drop boxes effort initiated in 2016, overseen by the Special Assessment District. The drop boxes encourage people to support Shelters of Saratoga services, rather than providing money directly to people on the streets, and $30,000 has been donated in the drop boxes in their six years of usage. 

The two-hour SCAEH meeting may be viewed at: https://fb.watch/dFGrJH9cVN/. 

SARATOGA COUNTY — Producers of the History Channel’s American Pickers are seeking area collectors to potentially visit and feature on the popular TV show in connection with their planned return to New York in August. 

“We’re looking for leads throughout the state, specifically interesting characters with fascinating items and lots of them,” said Lynneisha Charles, associate producer of American Pickers. “The way we find people and collections for our show is through spreading the word far and wide so that people know we’re coming to town. Let the people in your backyard know how eager we are to hear their stories.” 

Collectors interested in being considered for the show should reach out to the show and leave a voicemail by phone at 646-493-2184, or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Include full name, city/state, contact information, and a brief description of the collection. 

Note that the Pickers only pick private collections, so no stores, malls, flea markets, museums, auctions, businesses, or anything open to the public. 

Thursday, 09 June 2022 16:08

A Green Playground for Greenfield

PORTER CORNERS — The Town of Greenfield this week staged a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of a new “green” playground which officials say is the first installation of a playground in the nation made from recycled ocean waste. 

“It is part of our vision to expand our recreation spaces while preserving the natural integrity of our beautiful, wide-open spaces here in Greenfield,” said Town Supervisor Kevin Veitch.

The playground, which will primarily appeal to children 2 to 12 years old, measures 5,184 square feet and is approximately 108-by-48 feet. 

Located at Brookhaven Park & Golf Course at 333 Alpine Meadows Road, the playground includes a large climbing piece with two slides and a fire pole; a swing set with infant, single and multiple user options; a spica spinning pole; an arc tunnel climbing net; and five free-standing GreenLine pieces including a toddler train and carriage; an albatross seesaw; a dune buggy rocking toy; and a tipi carousel spinning toy. Cost to the town is $130,000. 

The playground highlights leading playground manufacturer Kompan’s new GreenLine products, developed from repurposed materials such as ocean waste and fishing nets. 

Kompan’s first circular playground, built on global sustainability goals, was set in May in Denmark. Greenfield officials said the local playground was the first in the country to purchase and install Kompan’s new GreenLine products.

Kompan uses recycled materials, including textiles, food packaging, plastic bags, and discarded fishing equipment to create its raw materials and reports that its emissions have reduced 50% from before the introduction of the new method. Kompan launched its GreenLine products in 2021.

The Town of Greenfield is home to 8,200 residents in Greenfield, Porter Corners and Middle Grove. Future park improvement plans include the renovation of its pavilion, building new restrooms, adding a 1.5 mile walking path and pickle-ball courts and expanding parking.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Forty-eight students at Maple Avenue Middle School have been recognized for their individual displays of kindness and their helpfulness towards other students since 2016.   

Those middle school students attending Saratoga Springs School – eight students each year from 2016 to 2021 - received a certificate and a $50 gift card to help purchase school supplies. That recognition was a way of honoring the memory of Billy Wardell, a sixth-grade student who was killed while riding an all-terrain vehicle in Greenfield in 2016. 

“People wanted to give and to have some way of memorializing Billy,” said the boy’s grandmother, Sherry Wardell, who helped coordinate the Billy Wardell Memorial Fund. 

The students were chosen by teachers. The criteria: kids the teachers have watched all year who have strived to help others, says Sherry Wardell. Caregivers, mentors with anti-bullying attributes. Students, she says, “with a caring heart.”   

The Class of 2022, whose commencement takes place June 24, marks what would have been Billy’s graduating class. 

As such, Wardell said this year’s recognition of students by the Billy Wardell Memorial Fund will be the final one. With $12,000 remaining in the fund, students Lucas Mergandahl and Isabelle Kelly were selected to each receive an award of $6,000 with the recommendation it be applied towards a skill school or college of their choice.

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