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WILTON — Mt. McGregor and Grant Cottage Historic Site are preparing to launch a new vision for the future of the historic site, which would include a series of improvements and some new development.
Potential plans include improved parking access, the expansion of trails, the development of a rustic gazebo and replica train station that once stood at the site, a pavilion that could host more than 100 people, and using a five-acre parcel that was once part of the former Mount McGregor Correctional Facility recreation yard for signature events.
Former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant spent six weeks at the cottage in 1885, completing his final memoirs prior to his death.
“Grant Cottage really started out as a little place in northern Saratoga County where Ulysses S. Grant was invited up to because he had terminal throat cancer,” Grant Cottage President Tim Welch explained, during a presentation to the county Board of Supervisors last week.
“He was invited up because the temperature was so hot in New York City in 1885, his doctors didn’t think he would survive to complete his memoirs. He spent only six weeks in Saratoga County, but he completed his memoirs and Mark Twain published them. He wrote his memoirs because he was dead broke. His son got him into a Ponzi scheme and he lost $200,000 – everything he had – and he had like 89 bucks in his checking account. So, that’s why he wrote his memoirs. Within a year after his death, his wife got a check for $450,000 in royalties from Mark Twain, which today is worth $11 million,” Welch said. “This is part of the story we have to tell as we attempt to expand the footprint of Grant Cottage with the Master Plan the LA Group is helping us put together.”
The expansion would help the site meet a growing interest and entice more visitors to the cottage specifically and the area in general, officials said. Attendance restrictions brought on by the pandemic aside, there have been positive signs of late regarding the site. Last year, the History Channel announced its presentation of a three-part mini-series on U.S. Grant, with the Grant Cottage featured in the docudrama. Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company, which filmed at the cottage in October 2019, Grant Cottage also was the recipient of a $10,000 donation from DiCaprio. This past January, Grant Cottage was approved as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service.
Grant Cottage was headed to closure on the 100th anniversary of Grant’s death in 1985 until a group of concerned citizens got together to save it by having a volunteer staff and keeping it open to the public for five months of the year.
The cottage is looking to reopen for the season “in the next several weeks,” Welch said.
ALDI’s supermarket has announced that they will be opening a new store in Wilton in the coming year.
“We are beginning construction on our first Saratoga Springs/Wilton ALDI store, and our plan is to officially open the store sometime before the end of 2020,” said Bruce Persohn, Vice President of ALDI’s South Windsor division. Persohn also said that more details of the store and its grand opening would be announced soon.
The Wilton Planning Board originally approved the ALDI’s store in February of this year. It will be built on 2.10 acres off of Lowe’s Drive in the Wilton Marketplace.
The Planning Board also approved a new road to allow access to the store. The road, named Aldi’s Drive, will connect from both Lowe’s Drive and Old Gick Road.
Begin this holiday season by joining Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park for this fun, nature craft! On Dec. 7th starting at 1:00 pm, Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park will use naturally found materials to help participants make hanging ornaments that can be used for gifts, decoration, or for the holiday tree. Participants will use pinecones, tree cookies, and other natural elements to make adorable crafty critters to hang. This is a family-friendly event. Registration is required by Dec. 6th.
WILTON — A.C. Moore recently announced that it would close all stores nationwide, including their Wilton Square location. In a statement, CEO Anthony Piperno stated, “For over 30 years, our stores have been servicing the creative community with a vast selection of art and craft materials, with one common focus, the customer. Unfortunately, given the headwinds facing many retailers in today’s environment, it made it very difficult for us to operate and compete on a national level.”
The store stopped accepting online orders as of Nov. 25. The company statement also said that store closing specifics could be found on their website. However, no further information on closing dates could be found by press time, and it is unclear when the Wilton store will close. Both the Wilton Square location and corporate office were not available for any comment.
On Wednesday, the store was bustling with shoppers taking advantage of the closing sales. Many customers were unconcerned or unaware of the upcoming closing. “I prefer Michaels, if I do come here it’s mostly for convenience,” said Aimee Miller-Reinhardt while leaving the store. Another shopper, Eileen Biers, agreed: “It [the closing] doesn’t bother me.”
Other shoppers said that they were disappointed to see the store go. “I get a lot of supplies for school projects here, so I’m sad about it. I didn’t even realize they were closing,” said Killeen Schmitz, an assistant supervisor at a before and after school program.
A.C. Moore’s statement also revealed that 40 store locations would be taken over by The Michaels CompaniesInc., owner of Michaels craft stores. It is still unclear whether the Wilton location is one of these 40 stores. The A.C. Moore website should provide this information in the following weeks.
A.C. Moore originally announced its Wilton Square location in April 2000 and opened later that year. It was one of the final big-box tenants to move into the then newly built Wilton Square site.
Supervisor: Nancy Dwyer
I am running to be Wilton's Supervisor because:
It’s time….governing be about people not party.
It’s time…we work together to turn our challenges into opportunities and our opportunities into reality.
It’s time…we not only have real transparency but that we seek ways to share information through forums, advisory groups, and workshops.
It’s time… that we be inclusive and bring different people with varied opinions from ALL sides of an issue to the table, to our boards and our committees.
It’s time… elected leaders do their job instead of doing “favors” only a privileged few benefit from.
It’s time…we stop saying “that’s just the way it is” and allowing others to impose their will and vision and desires upon us just because they hold a position of power.
I see the possibility of what things could, should, can and will be, IF, we stop accepting what we have now and demand that those we elect be public servants and serve the public….not just SOME people but ALL people.
This town, this county, this state, this country belongs to the people…and it’s high time we the people start taking that responsibility seriously and stop abdicating it to others.
That’s why I run. Let's get to work!
You can find more about my background and qualifications on my website DwyerforSupervisor.com or follow me on Facebook: Dwyer For Wilton Town Supervisor.
Supervisor: John Lant
My platform is quite simple. I’m running for Wilton Town Supervisor to ensure continued quality of life, continued fiscal responsibility and continued leadership that listens and works with everyone. Also to keep no town and highway taxes like it has been for 30 years.
As far as pressing issues in Wilton:
1. I’ve been working with State officials to fix Mount McGregor Road. As you know, that is a state road which leds to Grant’s Cottage (historical site) and the condition of the road is hazardous for local residents. Grant’s Cottage is not only a local prize but a national treasure.
2. The board has requested to County and state officials to lower the speed limits on some town roads. We will continue to study many other roads that might need lower speed limits.
3. The court times for the Pickle Ball controversy at Gavin Park have been resolved.
Listen, there are always improvements that can enhance everyone's world; however, “Life cannot be better in the Town of Wilton right now.”
Council Member: Michele Hill-Davis
My name is Michele Hill-Davis and I’m running for Councilwoman - Wilton Town Board. After almost 18 years in education and nearly five as a volunteer public advocate for issues such as victims of violent crimes and their families, Epilepsy, mental health issues and other causes, I made the decision to step into politics at the local level. I am very passionate about the issues of our town and believe that it is my duty to represent ALL citizens regardless of party affiliation.
Some issues that I’d like to work on for Wilton include development that is both economical and environmentally viable, finding a safe space for outdoor activities such as a walking path or a place for biking, keeping businesses in the Wilton Mall by creating an activities center for seniors and families, continuing to keep our taxes low and being responsive and totally accessible to our community. I’d also like to work on getting a traffic light by Maple Avenue middle school; something that would keep that intersection safe for everyone as well as other like projects. Feel free to reach out to me at any time.
Council Member: Raymond O’Conor
Among the biggest challenges is managing growth. Wilton is blessed with beautiful natural landscapes and resources. The Orra Phelps Preserve, the Stream Resource Corridors and the Wilton Wildlife Preserve, all projects in which I played a role, will continue to be protected. I also support efforts to expand conservation areas including the Southern Palmertown corridor project. Balance between development and conservation is the key.
With growth comes financial pressure on resources. During prior board service, I helped craft sixteen balanced budgets with no general fund or highway taxes. I plan to continue the practice of prudent budgeting and spending, while allocating resources to maintain our roads and other infrastructure critical to public safety and the future of our community.
Among the reasons families find Wilton attractive is our exceptional recreation facilities. Our recreation facilities and programs will be among the best and keep pace with the changing demands and tastes of our residents.
Negotiation and compromise are more productive than acrimony. In a political world that is dominated by the latter, I hope to foster an atmosphere of cooperation to best serve the people and small businesses that call Wilton home.
Council Member: Erinn Kolligian
My/Our platform is "Strengthening our financial base while providing recreation programs, services for our seniors, preserving open space, ensuring public safety and maintaining critical infrastructure. Working together for the kind of community our children, families and local businesses deserve. Keeping Wilton town and highway tax free."
I hear a lot about development these days. I've been on the Wilton Planning Board for nearly 10 years and the board does great work making sure new projects sit within the proper zoning and fit within the feel of the community. My goal is to ensure that responsible growth and development continues in the Town of Wilton.
by Thomas Dimopoulos
WILTON - A 16-year-old Saratoga Springs High School student, believed to having gone missing with a handgun shortly before noon on Monday, was found and taken into custody without incident near his Wilton home on Route 9 early Monday evening. He did not have the handgun with him at the time.
“He got into an argument with his mom inside the house. He had the gun and she locked herself in a room. Prior to his leaving the house, he hid the gun in the garage,” said Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo. “She last saw him with it, so we assumed he had it.”
Police conducted a search for the teen that covered a three-mile area around Route 9/ Maple Avenue and Northern Pines Road, that involved NY State Police, Saratoga Springs Police, state Park Police, as well the county Sheriff’s Department and a New York State Police Aviation unit helicopter.
Maple Ave Middle School, Dorothy Nolan Elementary School, SUNY Adirondack Wilton Center, and Skidmore College, as well as childcare centers in the area were all placed on precautionary lockout. Afternoon and evening events at the schools were cancelled, including a mayoral debate that was slated to take place at the high school.
“He was taken to Saratoga Hospital for a mental evaluation. Because he made suicidal comments prior to leaving the house, our main concern was safety – his safety and with (potentially) a gun the safety of others,” said Zurlo, who would not comment at this time as to whether the handgun is legally registered. “We’re going to determine (Tuesday) whether any charges will be brought.”
WILTON - Men and women of all ages gathered on July 15 for an all-day rugby tournament hosted by Saratoga Rugby Club (SRC) in Gavin Park. This tournament was a qualifier event for the national series. Teams from as far as Barbados and as close as Saratoga took part in the event.
Gavin Park was an excellent venue with the large open fields perfectly accommodating for the several matches happening at once. Spectators moved from field to field to take in all of the action involving several different teams. Between 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., there were approximately 90 matches on four different fields. Wilton was chosen to host this year because it is equal distance from New York City and Boston. Eric Huss is the original creator of the event and this time he handed the reigns over to his board of directors. Even though they were crunched for time this year, the club still managed to host approximately 40 teams equaling 500 players. Stephen Aguglia, Vice President of SRC, was proud of the event and stated that for the amount of people they had present and the short amount of coordination time they were working with, the tournament was only behind by a few minutes between different matches.
“We coordinated with two different leagues and the town of Wilton along with many volunteers. We knew that there would be a lot of potential pit-falls that we were anxious about but we managed to pull it off and the feedback we’ve received has been positive,” Aguglia noted.
Rugby, being the physical sport that it is, had already caused a few injuries just an hour after the tournament began. By 11 a.m. the EMT’s reported there had already been one broken nose and several scrapes and bruises. Coaches and EMT’s alike kept reminding the players to stay hydrated. Luckily, no ambulances were called.
“Small injuries and dehydration are the norm,” an EMT clarified.
Jamie Everett, a local graduate from St. Lawrence University, has played on the White Plains Team for five years. Everett commented on how his team “had a tough start,” but that they were happy to see how open the fields were, having plenty of room to move around and warm up before each match.
“This is a tourist destination for a lot of reasons,” Aguglia continued, “Saratoga is a great place to visit in the summer time and we are looking to partner with local businesses in the community moving forward into next year. The potential is there to create something even bigger now that we have more time on our side.”
The Barbados team has their own invitational that has packages in place for participants with the team’s local businesses and airlines to create a smooth journey. The Saratoga Rugby Club would like to expand their tournament in a similar way and reach out to Montreal and Ottawa teams. On the women’s side, New York Rugby Club, from NYC, took first place and Old Blue Women, also from NYC, took second. In the men’s bracket Old Blue, NYC, took first place and The Bulldogs from Connecticut, took second. All four teams will be moving forward to nationals.
Regardless of the overall division outcomes, the diversity on the field made for an entertaining tournament to watch. From the different coaching styles to the different playing techniques, the Saratoga Sevens Rugby Tournament was not an event to be missed.
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
WILTON – Soccer teams from across the Northeast came together at Gavin Park in Wilton and at the Saratoga Youth Lacrosse Association fields on the PBA Range property this past weekend to put on a show for around 160 college coaches at the 15th Annual Mad Dog Mania Showcase Tournament. The aim of the tournament was to provide high school soccer teams a venue at which to demonstrate their talents in the hopes of being recruited for a college team. At this year’s tournament, 131 teams from eight states competed, and while the number of individual players was not counted, tournament director Nancy Stangle estimated that there must have been over 1,800 players.
The event drew in teams from all around the Northeast, including 15 local teams and some from as far as Maine. According to Stangle, most of the teams at the event were from schools in the 3-4-hours-away range. Coaches in attendance came from all across New York State and beyond. Stangle said that most every local college was represented, including Skidmore, Union College, Siena, the College of Saint Rose, and SUNY Albany, and according the Mad Dog organization’s official website, coaches from Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania made it to the event.
While the organization has never tracked the rate at which players from its tournaments successfully get recruited, Stangle cited anecdotal evidence from friends and families of players over the years to say that a good number of them are successful thanks to the tournament. A press release from Mad Dog Mania also cited an unnamed college coach in attendance at this year’s event as saying that they had targeted around 30 players as worthy of further consideration.
In that same press release, Mad Dog Mania also touted the economic benefits of their annual tournament. According to them, approximately 4,500 individuals journey to the tournament each year, resulting in around 1,000 hotel rooms being booked, with many participants partaking in local shops and restaurants.
“Numerous participants and spectators have said that they plan to return to this area for personal visits,” the release from Mad Dog Mania stated. “After attending the soccer tournament and seeing all that the region offers.”
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
WILTON – The Springettes – one of the Saratoga Springs area’s premier girls gymnastics teams – continued to do their namesake hometown proud with an impressive showing at a recent state competition.
The Saratoga Regional YMCA Gymnastics Team, also known as “The Springettes,” attended the New York State YMCA Gymnastics Championships at SUNY Oneonta from April 22-23. At the meet, there were nine YMCA gymnastics teams from across NY competing, which amounted to just over 200 athletes. In all, 30 gymnasts from Saratoga Springs competed, taking part in the vault, bars, beam, and floor events.
The Springettes left SUNY Oneonta with an impressive eight all-around state champions, including Marissa Verro from Level 9, Abby Moller from Level 8, Jordan Toma and Katy Hawthorne from Level 7, Brynne Wright from Level 6, Rya Torres and Megan Wishart from Level 5, and Marianna Nasta from Level 4. In individual events, the team put up 29 first-place finishes.
“They did really well,” Kim Hewitt, director of gymnastics for the Saratoga Regional YMCA, said. “They held up against some tough competition.
In team competition, the Springettes entered four teams. The Level 7 and Level 5 teams placed first, the Level 4 team placed second, and the Level 3 team placed fourth.
“My Level 7 team has done a really good job this year,” Hewitt said. “They’ve been consistently placing very, very high, and they had a great day.”
The highest all-around score for the whole team was Abby Moller, Level 8, with a combined score of 35.8, followed by Katy Hawthorne, Level 7, with a score of 35.45. Another notable performance at the meet came from Marianna Nasta, Level 4, who claimed first place in all four individual events.
Going into the event, Hewitt had her athletes focused on repetition of their routines, making sure that they would be able to consistently get things right. Moving forward, the team will be competing at the Northeast Regionals from May 13-15. The focus on repetition remains the staple of their practices leading up to it. This year, regionals will take place in Waterville, ME. Around 40 teams from the northeast states will be competing, amounting to around 1,200 gymnasts.
“We’re really excited,” Hewitt said about going to regionals. “Our Level 5 and Level 7 teams are really strong, so we’re hoping to place in the all-around. It’s a little harder with 40 teams, but we’re hoping for those teams to do really well.”
All photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.