Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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Thursday, 30 June 2022 14:05

Spa City Carousel Celebrates 20th Year

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A ceremony staged in Congress Park this week celebrated the 20th anniversary of the opening of the carousel in Congress Park and served to commemorate former DPW Commissioner Thomas McTygue’s 32 years of service on the City Council as well as his leadership role to save the carousel. 

In its 20-year existence in Congress Park, the carousel has played host to about 850,000 rides. “To me, that’s (more than) 800,000 kids’ smiles, laughs, or who like my daughter, feel like they’ve found something magical. It brought us joy and happiness. I imagine that’s how everyone else feels who rides it for the first time,” said current DPW Commissioner Jason Golub. 

“As with many things in Saratoga Springs, there had to be a long-term fight first, before getting anything done,” Golub added. It is a project that nearly didn’t happen. Following the closure of Kaydeross Park on Saratoga Lake, the historic Illions Carousel was slated to be auctioned off and dismantled. 

Saratoga Springs City Council Minutes: Aug. 4, 1986: Mayor Jones received a letter from Robert Kohn, a partner in the Vista project at Saratoga Lake, offering to donate to the city the carousel at Kaydeross Park contingent upon their taking title to the property. Mayor Jones felt it would be imprudent to accept a gift of this magnitude - $250,000 if restored – and since we are in negotiations with them over this project, he would oppose the acceptance of any gift. There are many liabilities concerned. Comm. McTygue stated he would like to discuss this if it is going to leave the area rather than stay here in Saratoga Springs. He does not want to close the door on this at this time. The offer is contingent on the approval of his project. 

In 1987, McTygue and former Finance Commissioner Ted Butler led a community fundraising campaign for the city to purchase the Carousel at the negotiated price of $150,000. An at-times heated community discussion about where to site the carousel followed for the next 15 years. McTygue remained adamant that it belonged in Congress Park. 

“One of the main reasons I fought to keep this in the downtown business district is it opened up a whole new entrance to our park here,” McTygue said during this week’s ceremony. “People come here from other communities, to bring their children and grandchildren to ride the carousel and then being here they would shop in our downtown businesses.” 

The Saratogian: Sept 1987, by Paul Cloos: The Saratoga Springs City Council Tuesday pledged to help buy the Kaydeross Park carousel at an auction later this month. If bought by the city, Public Works Commissioner Thomas McTygue said a likely spot for the carousel would be Congress Park. The 1904 carousel at Kaydeross Park changed hands as part of the $3.1 million sale of the park to the developers of Vista on Saratoga Lake. Vista developers plan 349 town houses and single-family houses in place of the park, which closes in two weeks. 

“There are so many things I wanted to say…” McTygue told the assembled crowd of more than 100 at this week’s ceremony in front of the carousel, flanked by rows of towering trees and the vibrant hue of tiger lilies. 

“I had a lot of help, and I couldn’t do this without leaning over to the other side. I know it upset some of my Democrat friends, but I really had to. When I first was elected in the ‘70s this community was predominantly Republican,” said McTygue, served on the city council for a total of 32 years from the early 1970s to 2008. 

“When I first took over, this place was loaded with drugs, people sleeping under the tress, it was all overgrown. We decided we were going to get involved and clean this place up and that’s what we did.” He more than doubled his father’s 15-year tenure as councilmember. It is an achievement he never could have imagined. “Thirty-two years! But I’ll tell you with the Internet today, I probably wouldn’t have lasted three years,” McTygue said with a laugh. 

The Gazette, May 30, 1998, by Rik Stevens: It’s an issue that comes around and goes around every couple of years, but this time, a city official thinks he’s found a home for the historic Kaydeross Carousel. Public Works Commissioner Thomas McTygue has plans to put the 93-year-old carousel in a new pavilion on the Spring Street side of the Canfield Casino in Congress Park. The city bought the carousel for $150,000 in 1987 from the new owners at Kaydeross Park, using a last-minute fund drive, corporate donations and city money. The horses were restored and have been stashed in an office in the Public Works Department, awaiting a new home.   

The donations came in from everywhere. “The support we got from everybody…it was unbelievable,” McTygue said, whose eldest daughter, Lisa, read from a lengthy list of donors who had donated $5,000 for each carousel horse, those who donated funds to restore the horses, and those who helped fund the design and construction of the carousel pavilion. 

Gordon Boyd read a list compiled of achievements accomplished while in office by McTygue, whom Boyd called “a native son and true friend of Saratoga Springs.” Boyd first met the then-newly elected McTygue in 1972. “I saw someone who had the desire and leadership capacity to make the city better. But he also showed a rootedness in the community stretching back generations, and the authenticity to rally the community behind his major initiatives,” Boyd said.  “The common element of all his ideas for Saratoga Springs was he approached them out of love for the community, and a joy in having the opportunity to serve. So that is why we are here today.”      

To mark the event, the Saratoga Springs City Council approved a motion to offer free carousel rides for the day. Boyd stressed the carousel be seen as both a joy-filled experience in a special place as well as a metaphor of civic leadership and commitment that takes on all challenges for the betterment of
the community. 

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner read a citation that recognized McTygue’s contributions to the community in general and specifically for his “valiant, prescient and ultimately successful efforts to bring this carousel to this place.” The carousel was installed in Congress Park in 2002.

The event also honored the memory of late DPW Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco whom, despite being a political competitor, reached out to McTygue last year with the idea of acknowledging McTygue’s leadership at the 20th anniversary of the carousel. 

“It was Skip’s gracious idea to celebrate Commissioner McTygue’s significant contribution to our community, and I know he would be proud to see us follow through on his wish,” current DPW Commissioner Golub said during the unveiling of a plaque detailing the history of the carousel and commemorating McTygue’s leadership. 

McTygue looked at the plaque. “That’ll be here for a while,” he said. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — “I think that Saratoga fits really well as a launching pad for national stage work.” 

“And one of the advantages to this model is to bring extremely high-quality artists and work – both from the region and not from the region – to Saratoga and to show it,” says Orchard Project Artistic Director Ari Edelson, in the days leading up to a highly anticipated weekend when the organization will bring a varied genre of arts programming to a variety of local stages.     

“The things we’ve done in the past, they all seem to be the parts of an experiment we’re trying to compress into a weekend of events and really focus on sharing with this community some of the things we are supporting through our programs,” he says. 

Events will take place Friday, July 8 through Sunday, July 10 at Caffe Lena, Saratoga Arts and Universal Preservation Hall. They will include a new rock musical, world premiere concerts, the unveiling of a musical cabaret and a series of free readings and writing workshop. 

“A weekend like this is to us a sustainable way of bringing great programming to the community at a fairly affordable price point. And it’s also a way for us to just meet more advocates for what we do,” says Edelson, who grew up in the greater tri-state area. His local ties date to childhood summer visits with his maternal grandparents who operated a pharmacy on Broadway in Saratoga Springs. 

The Orchard Project first launched atop the Greene County mountains of the Catskills, in Hunter. “There were very few physical resources for groundbreaking performing artists, and frankly for artists who wanted to take bigger risks. We did a week in 2007 and it went pretty well, moved to three weeks in 2008 and kept on growing from there,” Edelson says. “When we looked around for a new place to move, I was able to convince my team Saratoga was the perfect place for the Labs.

The first year in Saratoga, in 2015, worked out well, and a valued connection was forged with local leaders. 

“We walked into a meeting, and they asked: ‘So, what is this Orchard Project?’ I said, ‘Well it’s kind of an artists’ retreat that develops performance. We support plays and musicals and dance pieces and shows.’ They said: ‘Oh it’s like Yaddo for theater.’ People immediately got it. The Orchard Project then was about eight years old and had already sent a few shows to Broadway; shows that had emerged out of our Labs.”

The Orchard Project has brought to Saratoga Springs such artists as Alan Cumming – who tested out a cabaret of his at UPH, legendary performance artist, writer, poet and experimental theatre-maker Penny Arcade, and cabaret performer Bridget Everett – who performed in 2015. “She now has her own show on HBO. And people still remember that - back when this really raunchy singer was serenading guys who looked like they were members of Saratoga golf and polo,” Edelson says with a laugh. “That helped me to understand that for us locally there was an ability for us connect with what we did: supporting artists while they were taking risks - fun, public events that would allow people to feel like they were in on something.” 

Over the past 15 years, the Orchard Project has supported more than 300 new productions in various forms of development, including the creation pieces that have moved to Broadway such as All The Way, Amelie: The Musical, and 33 Variations, award-winning work such as An Octoroon and The Aliens, and works by Taylor Mac, Young Jean Lee, Rachel Chavkin, Annie Baker, Jeremy O Harris, Savion Glover, and  Esperanza Spalding, among others. 

“When we were running at capacity in Saratoga before the (pandemic) shutdown in 2019, we were bringing up about 80 artists to Saratoga over the course of six weeks - from Memorial Day until July 10 - and we would take over Saratoga Arts Center and Caffe Lena and the Visitors Center, turn them into a campus where people were developing stuff – maybe a first act of a play, maybe adding the last bit of polish before sending it out to the Geffen (Playhouse) in Los Angeles. Our rule was basically that anything at any stage should be part of this mix of brilliant work,” Edelson says.     

Orchard Project’s earliest days were a bit like Burning Man, Edelson says: “storage units we’d unpack on Memorial Day and after we would pack them back up.” It has grown to be capable of supporting a year-round part-time staff as well as running support programs for artists off-season. “Even off-season in Saratoga, the goal is for us to be doing more and more,” he says. 

“Coming out of COVID, we realized the most important thing for us is not to just be bringing work to Saratoga to operate like a summer retreat, but to actually generate more work from Saratoga as well as the upstate region. We’re working with Proctors and the Saratoga Senior Center on the launch of what we’re calling the 518 Monologues (July 9). It’s going to be a year-round effort for us to be supporting writing workshops for organizations, community groups and corporations across the entire area code.”

Other weekend events include staging the rock musical “Penelope” (July 8 & 10), world premiere concerts by Martha Graham Cracker (July 8) and Lance Horne (July 9), and a variety of free readings throughout the three-day festival. See listings below or go to: orchardproject.com

The Orchard Project 2022 Arts Festival takes place Friday, July 8 through Sunday, July 10 in Saratoga Springs. 

Penelope - A world premiere musical by Alex Bechtel, starring Grace McLean. 7 p.m. Friday, July 8 and 3 p.m. Sunday, July 10 at Caffe Lena. Single ticket: $25/free for OP members. Groundbreaking new work of concert theatre for one actor and a five-piece band. Alex Bechtel began to write music from the point of view of Penelope, Odysseus’ wife in Homer’s “Odyssey.” 

Martha Graham Cracker Solves All Your Problems - A world premiere concert, 9 p.m. Friday, July 8 at UPH. Table seating: $45; General admission $35/free for OP members. VIP/Golden tickets also available.  Martha Graham Cracker, “The Drag Queen King” and her cabaret have been giving legendary performances since 2005. Martha (the alter ego of Dito van Reigersberg) has become a staple of the NYC and Philadelphia theater scenes. In the premiere of “Martha Graham Cracker Solves All of Your Problems,” Martha assumes a “Dear Abby” persona, accepting audience questions and delivering on-the-spot musical advice.

Famous In New York - a world premiere concert led By Emmy Award Winner Lance Horne. 8 p.m. Saturday, July 9 at UPH. Table seating: $45; general admission $35/free for OP members, VIP available. A concert celebrating New York “originals.” Emmy award-winning composer, pianist, singer, and music director Lance Horne joins together some of New York finest performers, hailing from both upstate and downstate, in celebration of the state that we call home. 

Once Upon A Tra' In Puerto Rico - new play reading by Nelson Diaz-Marcano, directed by Rebecca Aparicio at Saratoga Arts, 2 p.m. July 9, noon on July 10.  Free/reserved seating for OP members.

The Double[S] - new audio podcast reading by Winnie Kemp at Saratoga Arts, 1 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. Sunday. Free/reserved seating for OP members.

The 518 Monologues - Monologue Writing Workshop led by D. Colin at Saratoga Arts, 11 a.m. Saturday. Free. 

How to attend: become a supporting “Member” of the Orchard Project a tax-deductible donation of anything above $100 and for full access to the entire lineup. Or buy individual tickets for any of the events, also on sale at Universal Preservation Hall and Caffe Lena. For more information, go to: www.orchardproject.com

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. 

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