Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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SARATOGA COUNTY — At its final scheduled meeting of the calendar year, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 19 approved an agreement with LeChase Construction Services, Inc. of Rochester, for the construction of the new fixed base operator terminal building at Saratoga County Airport at a cost of up to $28.51 million. Of those costs, $24.53 million is listed as increase revenue State Aid under the 2023 Capital Plan, and $3.78 million as transfer from the capital reserve fund.   

The 2024 Organizational Meeting of The Board of Supervisors will be held at 4 p.m. Jan. 3, at 40 McMaster St. in Ballston Spa. 

Also approved on Dec. 19: 

DMV to Stay at Wilton Mall: the Board approved a three-year lease extension with Wilton Mall, LLC for space in the Wilton Mall where the County Department of Motor Vehicles will continue to site a satellite office. 

The lease runs Jan. 1, 2024 through Dec. 31, 2026 and totals $3,356.25 per month, plus an annual $900 fixed cost for electricity and an annual fixed charge for water in the amount of $35 per month. Those costs are subject to annual increases of 2% - to fixed electricity charge, and 3% - to rental rate and fixed charge for water commencing on Jan. 1, 2025. 

Better Cell: The Board approved a Resolution supporting Empire State Development’s designation of a cellular-specific point person to lead the state’s efforts on enhancing cellular coverage, and further encouraging the state to implement a unified strategy to assure every major road corridor has reliable cell coverage. 

County officials reported that approximately 70 percent of 9-1-1 calls originate from cellular phones,  adding that 99 percent of respondents in a recent survey of almost 2,000 Adirondack Park residents reported owning a cellular phone, with 67 percent reporting they rely on a cellular phone exclusively. 

Copies of the resolution will be forwarded to Gov. Kathy Hochul, Sen. Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Sen. Mark Walczyk, Sen  James Tedisco, Assemblymember John McDonald, Assemblywoman Carrie Werner, Assembly-member Matt Simpson and Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh. 

Spa Park Pump Station Upgrade Project: The Board approved executing a contract with Environmental Design and Research, Landscape Architecture Engineering and Environmental Services D.P.C. of Saratoga Springs, to provide engineering services for the Saratoga County Sewer District No.1’s Spa Park Pump Station upgrade project, at a cost of up to $184,525. 

The Saratoga County Sewer District Commission, the Executive Director, and the City of Saratoga Springs each agreed that extending the county-owned sewer infrastructure south on Route 9 could improve existing environmental conditions. 

SARATOGA SPRNGS — Local residents may remember Michael Grant from his time in the community as co-operator of Saratoga Coffee Traders, as a photographer, as the co-curator of the Empire Film Festival, or in any of the other innumerable things the “accidental serial entrepreneur” entertained in and around Saratoga Springs. 

Now, add NOVELIST to the list.

“Eve stormed across The Deerwood parking lot to fetch her paycheck, the magenta stripe in her dark hair twisting with the pounding fury of every step...”

So begins Grant’s 472-page debut novel “The Limited Edition Bicentennial Cadillac Convertible Joy Ride,” newly published by Wordbinders Publishing, an imprint of Journey Institute Press.

“It’s a strong story that’s getting high praise from early readers, and I’m hoping that Saratogians and beyond will discover it,” says Grant, who these days lives in Connecticut with his husband, artist Jon Galt.

“Our 20 years in Saratoga were indelible, of course,” says Grant, “and part of my new novel takes place there.”

The story takes place over the course of a week when a 16-year-old learns a dark family secret and then absconds with an elderly resident desperate to escape her managed care facility. The unlikely pair hit the road in search of the truth in a rare and pristine 1976 convertible Cadillac.

In a unique twist, the car itself serves as the omniscient narrator for the story. 

The car as narrator?

Early versions of the story were told in first-person using two narrators, Grant explains. “My husband asked if there was a way to simplify it with a singular narrator, and I jokingly said the only one who knows everything is the car. He said, ‘so what if it’s the car telling the story?’ 

“I immediately rejected the idea, fearing correlations to My Mother the Car and Herbie, but then I set my ego aside and considered it. It couldn’t be a talking, haunted or magical car,” Grant says.  “I’ve owned 19 cars in my short life, and every time I sold or traded one, I felt like I was saying goodbye to a friend who seemed to know me. I channeled that feeling, solidified the device, and then proceeded to completely rewrite the entire novel from this new perspective.”

The novel is available at a variety of bookstores, including via Northshire Bookstore Saratoga, and through the author’s website at: 

BALLSTON SPA — During a special board meeting held at the county complex on Dec. 13, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors adopted the 2024 county budget. 

The $410.1 million spending plan points to an increase of more than $32 million over this year’s adopted budget and marks the first county plan to top $400 million. By comparison, the annual approved plan was approximately $297 million in both, 2016 and 2017, before climbing to more than $319 million in 2018.       

During the meeting the Board also voted to approve the execution of multiple agreements with a variety of public benefit organizations in exchange for the services they provide. To that point, the 10 highest dollar amount appropriations are: 

$1.475 million - Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Saratoga County (for county Farm Guide update and Stormwater Management Services; 

$400,000 - Discover Saratoga (economic development);

$325,000 - Saratoga Economic Development Corporation (economic development); 

$300,000 - Campaign for Saratoga 250th, Inc. (economic development & heritage tourism); 

$142,000 – Saratoga County Soil & Water Conservation District (soil and water conservation);

$105,000 – Saratoga Performing Arts Center (pilot marketing campaign and economic development); 

$100,000 – Regional Food Bank of N.E. N.Y. (addressing food insecurities);

$90,000 – Saratoga Center for the Family (child abuse services);

$60,000 - Capital District Regional Planning Commission (regional studies); 

$60,000 – Capital Region Chamber of Commerce (tourism & economic development). 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, an ad hoc committee formed in February and charged with suggesting a potentially permanent site for a homeless shelter and navigation center, approved its final report to the city at its meeting Nov. 27 at City Hall. 

The 11-member Task Force was initiated In February 2023 by city Mayor Ron Kim, and saw its board appointed by most of the currently seated City Council members and Supervisors.   

The ad hoc group began by evaluating more than two dozen potential sites across the city, eventually whittling that number down to a handful of locations, with a 3.7-acre lot on Lake Avenue/ State Route 29 ultimately being selected as the primary suggested site for a permanent homeless shelter. The vacant lot is located between the Northway overpass and a Stewart’s Shop near Weibel Avenue, and had earlier this year been listed for sale at $800,000. 

Alternative sites highly ranked included a parcel at 153 South Broadway. That property stands in close proximity to two temporary shelters in the city, but the owner is reluctant to sell the property; 1.6 acres at 3290 Route 9 / Top Hill motel; a 1-acre property at North and East Ave., and 260 Maple Ave./ Gateway Motel, which extends to 1.5 acres.

Each of the potential venues suggested offer some set of challenges that includes everything from Land Use Board review to area variances required (although the latter would seem unnecessary were the city to outright purchase the property), proximity or lack thereof to venues currently providing social services, access to public transportation, and, given the track record of previous attempts made: opposition from some area residents when a site is ultimately selected.   

Finalizing a location and identifying funding sources - including what level of support may be provided by the county – are still matters to be discussed. Those discussions are anticipated to continue in the new year with the new city government. Two of the five members of the City Council, and one of two Supervisors representing the city at the county level, will be seated in those positions for the first time. 

“Our next step will be to reach out to the mayor-elect (John Safford) in end of January beginning of February – they meet the first and third Tuesdays, so hopefully in early February we can be in front of the new City Council,” said Committee co-chair Tom Roohan. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS —City police are asking for the public’s help regarding a suspected burglary they say occurred early Tuesday morning. 

At approximately 5 a.m. on Dec. 12, officers were dispatched to Lola Saratoga at 372 Broadway where they discovered a glass door broken and merchandise missing from the store that, according to the store’s website, is known for its luxury designer consignment handbags, accessories and shoes. 

“The Investigations Division was contacted and processed the scene and have conducted interviews of witnesses to the burglary,” police said in a statement released this afternoon. “Video of the incident show that the suspects entered and left the business in under two minutes.” 

Authorities are focusing for two male suspects who arrived and left in a dark colored sedan, leaving the scene driving north on Broadway towards the Route 50/ Route 9 arterial.

Anyone who may have information regarding the incident is asked to contact Investigator John Guzek at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Additionally, any video footage relevant to the case can be uploaded at:

SARATOGA SPRINGS —The Saratoga Springs Participatory Budgeting Committee will be holding online public voting for the second cycle of project proposals through Tuesday, Dec. 12. 

Saratoga Springs residents over the age of 18 are able to cast their ballot towards their favorite projects.

The Participatory Budgeting process encourages local community members to participate in the City’s budget process by voting on how to spend a portion of up to 0.25% of the City’s total budget - approximately $153,000, give or take. Final funding decisions will be made by the City Council in
late December.

The Committee received a total of 15 submissions for Cycle Two; with proposed projects ranging from smaller-scale recreation initiatives to larger community-wide accessible programming. 

There are 5 total projects on the ballot for potential funding: Bocce Ball Court, Saratoga Farmer’s Market, Opera Saratoga Family Programming, Solar Charging Bench for the Saratoga Springs Public Library, and Lake Avenue School Centennial Celebration. 

Bocce Ball: Construction of one (1) bocce ball court in Veteran’s Memorial Park. Project submitted by individual. Estimated Cost: $13,000. Location: Veteran’s Memorial Park, 10 Adams Road.

Opera Saratoga Family Programming: Produce five (5) outreach opera performances in Saratoga Springs and the State Park for children and family’s education and enjoyment. Project submitted by Opera Saratoga. Estimated Cost: $15,000. Location: Opera Saratoga, 19 Roosevelt Drive.

Lake Ave School Centennial Celebration: Celebrate Lake Ave Schools’ upcoming centennial by recording oral histories and memories, photograph mementos and produce an exhibition for display at the Saratoga Springs Public Library (location pending). Project submitted by Lake Avenue PTA. Estimated Cost: $10,000. Location: Lake Avenue School, 126 Lake Ave. 

Solar Charging Bench for Public Library: Provide a convenient and clean energy charging source for electronic devices to Saratoga Springs residents and visitors. Located outside of the Saratoga Springs Public Library. Project submitted by Saratoga Springs Public Library. Estimated Cost: $11,000. Location: Saratoga Springs Public Library, 49 Henry St.

Saratoga Farmers’ Market Program Support: Purchasing tents, wagons and tables for the Saratoga Springs Farmer’s Market and aiding in marketing expenses. Project submitted by Saratoga Farmers’ Market Association (organization). Estimated Cost: $12,000. Location: Saratoga Springs Farmer’s Market, 112 High Rock Ave.

“This past year we’ve seen a lot of our PB projects from Cycle One come online – they’ve had a tremendously positive impact on our community - from providing free arts programming and recreational curling to beautifying our city streets,” Commissioner of Finance Minita Sanghvi said in a statement. “We were excited to see a whole new set of project ideas for Cycle Two and are continuing to look for community input as to which projects they want to see funded.” 

To vote, visit go to: 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city long-called The August Place To Be was granted a late springtime addition to that moniker with this week’s official announcement naming Saratoga Race Course as the staging ground for June’s four-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. 

“Saratoga now adds to its storied history by hosting the third leg of the Triple Crown,” Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Dec. 6, inspiring thoughts of warmer climes on a day when the local community saw the gentle tumble of errant flurries.  “It’s a win for horseracing and for the Capital Region to have the excitement and the ability to host the four-day Festival in June at America’s most historic track.” 

The four-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will be staged Thursday, June 6 through Sunday, June 9. The Belmont Stakes race will run Saturday, June 8. No changes are anticipated regarding Saratoga’s 40-day summer meet. 

The relocation of the stakes race and its associated four-day festival will allow for the uninterrupted construction of a new Belmont Park on Long Island. And while construction is anticipated to go on at least through the 2025 Belmont Stakes season, only the 2024 festival at Saratoga was announced this week. 

“It is a temporary situation, and we hope to be even further ahead of schedule so we can end sooner, but it’s good to at least have an alternative to shutting down Belmont completely, and can take the races elsewhere in the state,” Gov. Hochul said at a presser shortly after the Belmont announcement.   

The four-day festival at Saratoga Race Course will include 23 stakes races in total with purses totaling $9.7 million.

The New York Racing Association began signaling earlier this year that some Belmont races would be shifted to Saratoga. Statements punctuated with optimism from the political and tourism worlds alike were issued with a ferocity shortly after Wednesday morning’s announcement, showcasing the affair as a driver of tourism, a major boon for the economy, an inspiration to partner with new stakeholders and something to further showcase the region’s world-class attractions. 

A different track brings with it additional changes:  due to the configuration of Saratoga’s main track, the Belmont Stakes will be contested at 1 1/4 miles in 2024 rather than the traditional 1 1/2 miles, pending the approval of the North American Graded Stakes Committee.

Inaugurated in 1867 at Jerome Park Racetrack and moved in 1905 to Belmont Park, the Belmont Stakes has notably provided Secretariat’s 31-length victory in 1973 and American Pharoah successfully ending a 37-year Triple Crown drought in 2015. The race was staged at Aqueduct Racetrack from 1963-1967 when Belmont Park last underwent significant renovations. 

Following the conclusion of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga, the NYRA circuit will return to Aqueduct Racetrack for the remainder of the spring meet before racing shifts to Saratoga for the annual 40-day summer meet beginning Thursday, July 11. The fall meet customarily held at Belmont Park will again be shifted to Aqueduct Racetrack in 2024 while construction of a new Belmont Park continues.

Ticket packages and pricing for the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course will be available in early 2024.

Thursday, 07 December 2023 13:47

New Developments Under Consideration

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Applications under consideration this week by the Saratoga Springs Design Review Board include: 

•Historic Review of a two-story addition at 395 Broadway. Prime Group Holdings founder Robert Moser has been seeking city Land Use Board approval to add two stories to the company’s existing two-story brick masonry office building at 395 Broadway. The combined four-story building would serve as office space for Prime Group Holdings, with a retail store component on the first floor. 

The red-brick building located on the southwest corner of Broadway and Division Street was originally developed in 2000 to house Borders Books & Music, and in in 2018 was purchased by Ed Mitzen and the Fingerpaint Marketing firm. It was sold to Prime Group Holdings for $11 million in July. 

•Architectural Review of exterior modifications including roof replacement, porch reconstruction, and select window infill and replacement at 118 Woodlawn Ave., regarding the Woodlawn Club exterior modification project. 

•177 South Broadway Stewarts Demolition and Redevelopment: Determination of Historic/Architectural significance for an existing single-family residence. Consideration of SEQRA lead agency, and Advisory Opinion to the Zoning Board of Appeals regarding the demolition of the existing single-family residence and redevelopment of a convenience store and fueling station. 

BALLSTON SPA — During its monthly meeting, held Nov. 21 at the county complex in Ballston Spa, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors accepted $426,000 from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and approved an agreement with Shelters of Saratoga that will see those funds used for S.O.S. expenses to operate this winter’s Code Blue shelter in Saratoga Springs. 

The emergency cold-weather Code Blue shelter will this year, for the first time, be located at the former Grand Union Motel at 120 South Broadway, in Saratoga Springs. 

Motivated to action in the wake of the death of a city woman exposed to a winter’s elements on a December night in 2013, a temporary homeless emergency shelter was launched in Saratoga Springs that Christmas Eve at St. Peter’s Parish Center. The Code Blue shelter has found temporary homes across the city in the years since during wintertime. 

Of the $426,000 the State is sending to Saratoga County, the Board of Supervisors recommended up to $399,979 be spent in contract with S.O.S. for expenses associated with sheltering the homeless during this fall and winter season, and that any additional costs up to $26,021 may be used by the Department of Social Services for potential costs incurred for sheltering individuals or families not otherwise eligible for emergency housing and not able to be housed at the Code Blue Shelter.

2024 County Budget Proposal Tops $400 Million; Public Hearing Dec. 6, Plan to Adopt Dec. 13

A public hearing on the revised tentative 2024 Saratoga County Budget will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 6, at the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 40 McMaster St., Ballston Spa.

More than $1.5 million approved for work at county animal shelter

The County Board approved the acceptance of a near $1.5 million bid proposal from the John W. Danforth Company of Clifton Park for work to be conducted at the Saratoga County Animal Shelter. 

The work relates to the mechanical construction of the HVAC Phase 1 project at the county animal shelter. The $1,495,890 was the lowest bid the county had received. 

The Board additionally approved an agreement with B & B Premier Contracting, LLC of Hudson Falls, for work relating to the electrical construction of the HVAC Phase 1 project at the animal shelter at a cost of up to $84,000, and an agreement with DiGesare Mechanical Incorporated of Schenectady, for plumbing construction related to the same project at a cost not to exceed $57,000. 

County Sheriff’s Office agreement to provide additional police services in Malta, Clifton Park, Halfmoon, Wilton

A contract extension was approved with the Town of Malta through 2024 for additional police services to be provided by the Sheriff’s Office. The agreement calls for one patrol from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., and one patrol 4 p.m. – midnight, seven days a week. 

The contract, at $326,580.66, includes reimbursement by the Town of Malta for all County expenses including salaries, benefits, training, all transportation expenses and patrol cars. 

Additional agreements were also separately approved with the towns of Clifton Park (2 patrols, 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. & 4 p.m. – midnight, 7 days a week at a town cost just over $653,000); Halfmoon (1 patrol, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tues.-Sun., and 4 p.m.-midnight Tues.-Sat. at just over $259,000), and Wilton (1 patrol, 8 a.m. -4 p.m. Mon.-Fri., just over $125,000).    

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The message is simple: Do something fun, get healthy and get rewarded in exchange for your efforts. 

“It’s a No Excuses – Just Start” clinic, says program coordinator Billy Yaiser. “And this is something everyone can do.”

How it works: participants sign up in advance and attend one clinic a week for about an hour at a time, where low-impact physical activity games will be on the agenda. Attendees earn points for their attendance, and those reward points earn certificates redeemable at area eateries or stores.

The program is anticipated to begin in mid-January and Yaiser is eyeing the Saratoga Springs recreation facility on Vanderbilt Avenue as the program staging ground where a flexible schedule of events are expected to be held weekday nights and Sundays. 

The pre-holiday season is an appropriate time to be thinking about some physical activity in the immediate post-holiday, Yaiser says. 

“You go at your own pace, and it will give you a little cardio without killing you,” he says with a laugh.  “Also, a portion of the proceeds will go to fund programs for disabled community members,” says Yaiser, who as founder of Second Chance Sports has helped coordinate events and fitness therapy clinics across the state for several decades, as well as teaching sports to the mentally and physically disabled. 

Each clinic session can host about a dozen people. Activities will help with hand-eye coordination and balance, and the physical activity involved is something anyone can do, regardless of age or physical condition, Yaiser says. 

For more information about sign-ups and clinic times call or text Yaiser 518-226-5888. Everyone who signs up will receive a special Saratoga present that can’t be purchased anywhere else, Yaiser said. 

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  • Saratoga County Court Rick C. Sweet, 36, of Ballston Spa, pleaded to attempted assault in the second-degree, and menacing in the third-degree, charged in January. Sentencing July 3.  Seth A. Labarbera, 24, of Ballston Lake, was sentenced to 1 year in local jail, after pleading to criminal possession of a weapon in the second-degree, charged July 2023 in Saratoga Springs.  David A. Fink, 27, of Ballston, was sentenced to 4 years’ incarceration and 5 years’ post-release supervision, after pleading to attempted arson in the second-degree, charged August 2023.  Michael J. Scensny, 34, of Waterford, was sentenced to 3 years in state…

Property Transactions

  • BALLSTON  William Bergstrom sold property at 793 Rt 50 to KMD 793 LLC for $245,000 Eastline Holdings LLC sold property at 2 Linden Ct to Donna Jordan for $449,980 John Moynihan sold property at 28 Fruitwood Dr to Joshua Matthews for $380,000 Ronald Taylor sold property at 1422 Saratoga Rd to Invequity Holdings LLC for $600,000 CHARLTON Tara Hicks sold property at 8 McNamara Dr to Andrew Sayles for $270,000 Jon Andersen sold property at 454 Finley Rd to Ryan Donselar for $475,000 CORINTH Steven Cole sold property at 28 West Mechanic St to Maurice Jeanson for $275,000 GREENFIELD Robert…
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