Jonathon Norcross

Jonathon Norcross

TAMPA — Kevin Smith, a native of East Greenbush and a graduate of Columbia High School, grew up watching New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter on TV. Now, Smith may have a chance to play at Jeter’s position in the Bronx. 

“Every kid growing up in New York grows up watching the Yankees,” Smith told YES Network’s Jack Curry on Monday. “I was one of those kids watching Jeter every night.”

Smith has been with the Yankees throughout spring training in Tampa, but a recent injury suffered by Oswald Peraza has increased Smith’s odds of making the team as a backup shortstop. Smith is among a handful of infielders with major-league experience vying for the job. So far this spring, he’s gotten 20 at-bats, the seventh most of any Yankee. Last week, he hit an RBI single against the New York Mets.

Smith is primarily known for his defensive abilities, and has said he can play short, third, or second base. A 2022 Baseball America scouting report said that Smith’s “power and defensive skill set could allow him to stick around as a utility player.”

“I’m just trying to have the best spring that I can, have the best day and do the best work that I can, day in and day out, and let the chips fall where they may,” Smith told Curry.

BALLSTON SPA — As legendary (and fictional) dodgeball coach Patches O’Houlihan once said, “if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” Luckily, no wrenches were thrown at the Ballston Spa Middle School’s 8th Grade Dodgeball Tournament. 

More than 115 students across 19 teams participated in the event. This year’s winner had the creative team name, “I Paused My Game To Be Here!”

SARATOGA SPRINGS —In the wake of Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran’s proposed short-term rental regulations, an opposition group called the Saratoga Springs Rental Rights Alliance (SSRRA) has been formed. In a press conference on the steps of City Hall on Monday morning, the SSRRA said the city should “slow down, stop, and think before proceeding with proposed short-term rental regulations.” 

In a statement, the group called for a reconsideration of both the proposed $1,000 biannual registration fee and the requirement that rental units be “owner occupied.” The SSRRA also supported the creation of a “cross-sectional working group to examine the proposed regulations and propose agreeable changes.”

Spokesperson Anna Smith, a local mortgage broker, told Saratoga TODAY that her group was created by a dozen or so “passionate” speakers from a city council public hearing two weeks ago. Since then, the SSRRA Facebook group has accumulated more than 400 members, and its petition opposing “rushed” short-term rental legislation collected more than 1,100 signatures.

Smith disputed Commissioner Moran’s assertion that city law renders short-term rentals illegal. “The way that [the law] reads, it does not appear to apply to actual short-term rentals,” Smith said. “It would be more of a boarding house kind of situation.”

City law defines a “rooming house” as “a single-family or two-family private residential structure, owner-occupied or under the supervision of a resident manager, in which rooms are made available to lodgers for compensation. Rooming houses shall provide lodging to people for a rental period of no less than 28 consecutive days.”

Moran has said that this law means that any rental under 28 days is not allowed. The SSRRA said in its statement that “short-term rentals are not, and have never been, illegal in the City of Saratoga Springs.”

Smith also disputed Moran’s belief that the city would be better off regulating itself rather than waiting for state-mandated regulations. “If you read the state legislation, it’s actually more lax than what Dillon Moran is proposing,” Smith said. “Right now, I would rather go with the state rules.”

Governor Kathy Hochul’s executive budget plan called for sales taxes to be collected on vacation rentals. The proposal was supported by Airbnb, but it remains to be seen if or when it will become law. According to Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi, Saratoga Springs does not currently collect any sales or occupancy taxes on short-term rentals.

Other local organizations, such as the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, took a more moderate stance on Moran’s proposals. In a statement, Chamber President Todd Shimkus said he agreed that short-term rentals should be subjected to some regulations, but also said that the $1,000 registration fee was too high. “[Short-term rentals] are a business and city zoning must balance the legitimate concerns of people living in residential neighborhoods where some [short-term rentals] – mostly those operated by absentee landlords – cause nuisance issues related to traffic, parking, noise, and trash,” Shimkus said.

One study from the American Economic Association, which was established in Saratoga Springs in 1885, said “there is some evidence that short-term renters can create a nuisance and disrupt year-round residents.” But Smith said that laws are already in place that “can be leaned on in that situation.”

Commissioner Moran has previously promised to address some of the public’s concerns. For now, Moran said that public hearings on short-term rentals “will remain on the agenda until we vote and conclude this matter.”

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs City School District is expected to spend $1.7 million on buses for the upcoming school year, and the state government’s looming electric bus mandate will likely yield “eye-popping” costs down the road.

At the February 29 Board of Education meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Business Robert “Bobby” Yusko laid out the district’s proposed 2024-2025 bus bond. The purchase is set to include five 66-passenger buses, three 66-passenger buses with luggage compartments, two 35-passenger buses, and one more 25-passenger bus with six wheelchair spots.The total cost will be $1.723 million. 

But those figures will likely be dwarfed by the sums needed to transition the district’s entire fleet to electric vehicles, which the district will need to begin doing in 2027. None of the planned 2024-2025 bus purchases will be electric. 

“A regular electric bus as we know it today is about $400,000, so it’s eye-popping,” Yusko said. “We also know on top of purchasing the vehicles themselves to the tune of $400,000 a piece, there will be significant capital improvement upgrades that will be required as a result of this mandate.”

Yusko said he was hesitant to provide an estimate of the total costs of converting a fleet of more than 100 buses to zero-emission vehicles because “there’s so much more information we still need to uncover.”

“If nothing happens in Albany in terms of any legislative action,” Yuko said, “this is the letter of the law, and we will have to start doing whatever we can to make that transition.”

Thursday, 07 March 2024 13:44

Report on Kranicks Still in Progress

SARATOGA SPRINGS — At a February 29 Board of Education Meeting, Dr. Michael Patton, Saratoga Springs’ Superintendent of Schools, said that the district had received an “incomplete,” preliminary report from the Harris Beach law firm regarding allegations made against Saratoga’s athletic program. 

Dr. Patton said that attorneys from Harris Beach needed additional information from the district in order to complete the report. The final report is expected to be submitted “sometime within the next two weeks.” Once received by the district, the report will be released to the public. 

The review stems from claims of “a toxic culture of alleged abusive coaching” in a legal complaint filed in October of last year. Girls’ varsity cross-country and indoor track coaches Art and Linda Kranick were at the center of the allegations. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs High School softball team is in for a challenging season. The squad will be competing against the largest schools in the area, thanks to its new AAA classification. “It’s going to be very competitive across that AAA class,” said Coach Geoffrey Loiacono. “Our league,” Loiacono said, “is a grind, day in and day out. There are no guaranteed games across the board.”

Like any high school team, the Blue Streaks have their sights set on capturing a title. In 2022, they were Section 2 champions. But getting back to the top will not be easy. “You’ve got to play your best every day or you’re definitely going to get beat,” Loiacono said.

Luckily, some players from that championship team are back and ready to deliver. “Our senior class is very strong,” Loiacono said. Sarah Decker, Natalie Conroy, and Olivia Tetreault make up a group of seniors that have been playing at the varsity level for several years. “They’ve known that caliber of play,” Loiacono said.

The Blue Streaks finished 14-8 last season. They won 11 of their first 12 games, displaying serious firepower in a whopping 20-2 victory against the Schenectady Patriots in early April. But the team lost its steam in the second half of the year, losing competitive contests to Shenendehowa, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, and Liverpool.

“It’ll be an all-out team effort to get back to the championship game,” Loiacono said. Fans can get a glimpse of this year’s team during its first scrimmage game on March 18 against Schuylerville. The first regular season game will be on March 28, when the Blue Streaks face off against Columbia in a non-league game. 

For a full schedule, visit

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Proposed short-term rental regulations have sparked debate among Saratoga homeowners, and resulted in a feisty public hearing at the February 20 Saratoga Springs City Council meeting.

Prior to the public hearing, Commissioner of Accounts Dillon Moran explained his proposed regulations of short-term rentals to a vocal audience. According to Moran, more than 1,200 of the city’s 9,800 residential properties are currently functioning as short-term rentals. “We are creating the ability to license your home to rent it,” Moran said. “We are enabling this activity legally for the first time in our community’s history.”

Moran said that currently, any rental under 28 days is not allowed, and commercial activity inside a residence is a violation of zoning laws. “It’s not allowed right now,” Moran said. “This is simply the facts. This is not my opinion. This is the position of the city.”

Moran said that short-term rental laws have not been enforced due to technological limitations. He also said that if the city did not regulate its own short-term rentals, the state government would do it instead. “We’re creating a city-wide registry of rental units because the state is going to pass a law requiring it,” Moran said.

Moran called houses that are used solely as rental properties “a blight on the neighborhood.” Shortly after, members of the audience shouted back at Moran, causing Mayor John Safford to admonish them. “Listen, we’re going to be here all night if you keep this up,” Mayor Safford told the crowd.

Moran’s plan would require property owners to pay $1,000 per dwelling unit for a two-year permit. Owners would also need to have a local emergency contact, fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide smoke detector, emergency egress plan, and insurance. The tentative start date of these regulations would be July 1, with a 60-day phase-in period. The proposal will not affect this year’s Belmont and track season rentals. 

After Moran laid out his plan, the floor was open to public comments. Skeptics of the plan who voiced their thoughts ranged from Airbnb hosts to homeowners who rent out their houses for only a few days each year. Moran’s proposal was criticized for its $1,000 licensing fee, relatively quick implementation, loss of money from renters who would stay outside city limits, and fireplace maintenance requirements.

Lori Leman from Saratoga Realty Associates said she received a lot of feedback from her clients when she sent Moran’s proposal to them. “To most of us, it seems this is a tremendous overreach in both depth and breadth,” Leman said.

“We have a mosquito problem and it looks like we ordered a bunch of B-29s with napalm to extinguish them,” said Joe Conlon. 

Anna Smith, a mortgage broker and homeowner, said that “Saratoga was not affordable before Airbnb existed, was it? It won’t be affordable once they legislate a lot of short term rentals out.”

Public commenters more supportive of the plan said that homes used solely as short-term rentals were driving up housing costs, hurting the quality of neighborhoods, and depriving families of houses. One woman called Airbnb rentals “unhosted money machines that don’t belong in our neighborhoods.”

After public comments concluded, Moran said he would “address some of the comments that you’ve made. Frankly, I don’t think we’re very far apart.” This provoked laughter from some attendees. “Again, the answer is not going to be no regulation, and the reality is the state is going to regulate this,” Moran said. “So the question is, do we want the state telling us what to do or do we want to determine it ourselves?”

As the proceedings drew to a close, a man from the audience yelled at Moran, saying “We don’t have to justify our lives to you, it’s the opposite. We don’t work for you, you work for us!”

Friday, 01 March 2024 11:35

Franklin Square Market Entering New Era

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Franklin Square Market, formerly known as PDT Market, has in its own words “made every mistake a young business can make.” But now a new leadership team is taking the helm. 

Mark Delos and Jullie Delos will be the “collective driving force” behind “culinary innovation” at Franklin Square, according to a statement released by the company last week.

 For the past seven years, Chef Mark Delos has overseen all culinary operations for Mazzone Hospitality’s catering division. Jullie Delos, Franklin Square’s new Director of Hospitality and Operations, was formerly Director of Sales and Events for Friends Lake Inn in Chestertown. She also managed the pop-up restaurant division of Mazzone. At Franklin Square, Jullie’s first order of business will be revamping the Market Bar and Cafe.

“Mark and I have wanted something of our own to be part of; something we could invest ourselves in,” Jullie said in a statement. “Nothing was the right fit until now.” 

Originally named PDT Market, Franklin Square underwent a name change when its original founder, Chef Adam Foti, left the business in September 2023. “The effort required to build and sustain PDT Market, and simultaneously keep PDT Catering functioning at the very high standards we set for ourselves, was not always compatible,” Foti wrote in a social media post at the time. Shortly after Foti’s departure, PDT announced its name change, writing that the business had “made every mistake a young business can make. But we’ve listened, we’ve learned, and we’ve adapted.”

Earlier this month, the Albany Business Review reported that Chef Foti leased a building in Malta near the Roosevelt Inn and Suites that will become the new homebase for PDT Catering.

Meanwhile, Franklin Square will enter a new era. “With Mark and Jullie joining the team,” the company wrote in a statement, “Franklin Square Market is poised for great things.”

SARATOGA SPRINGS — While Josh Allen and Tommy Devito are licking their wounds during the NFL offseason, a new football league will debut in New York State.

Saratoga Springs High School is participating in a girls’ flag football program that will begin this spring and include 12 other teams from the Suburban Council. “Last year, Troy High School was the only team in the area that had a formal girls’ flag football team,” said Saratoga Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Patton. “What started just a few years ago with a conversation, now has led to a full-fledged opportunity for girls to participate in flag football.”

The league’s ten-game season will feature five home and five away games. The season will end with a league championship similar to a sectional championship. The winner of the league title will then have an opportunity to capture a state championship. The state title game, hosted by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA), will be on June 2 at SUNY Cortland.

As of press time, regular season schedules and coaching positions for the Saratoga team were still being determined. At the end of last year, 65 Saratoga girls had already signed up to participate.

“There’s not a lot of cost to getting this started,” Dr. Patton said, “but the nice thing is that it has all been provided by the [New York] Giants or through USA Football.” The Giants donated $30,000 to help launch the league. The funds will be split between participating schools. USA Football is also donating equipment such as flags and balls. 

“I think there’s a lot of interest and momentum moving forward with the girls’ flag football program,” Dr. Patton said, “not only at the local level, but state and national level and Olympic level.”

In October 2023, USA Football announced that flag football will make its debut in the 2028 Olympic games in Los Angeles. Scott Hallenbeck, CEO of USA Football, said in a statement that flag football’s inclusion in the Olympics was “an acknowledgment of the sport's tremendous international growth and appeal as a fast, exciting and competitive sport.” 

Friday, 01 March 2024 10:35

East Greenbush Native Starts for Yankees

TAMPA, FL — Infielder Kevin Smith, a native of East Greenbush, was in the New York Yankees’ starting lineup last Sunday in a spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Smith played shortstop and batted seventh, going 0 for 2. The game was also Juan Soto’s debut in pinstripes. 

Smith is currently signed to a minor league deal with the Bronx Bombers.

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  • Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office  A 20-year-old Watervliet man was charged with first degree manslaughter after allegedly “striking another person with a large wrench and causing that person’s death,” according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office said they received a call of a fight in progress on Sparrow Drive in the town of Malta and the Investigation into the complaint led to the arrest of Cyrus J. Tetreault, 20, of Watervliet.  The victim was identified as 53-year-old Malta resident Brian M. Miller.  “It is truly tragic that this situation resulted in a loss of life,” county Sheriff Michael Zurlo…

Property Transactions

  • BALLSTON  Richard Burt sold property at 921 Route 50 to 921 Route 50 LLC for $173,000 GALWAY Rita Werner and Erin Forlenza sold property at 1064 West Galway Road to Karen Crandall for $145,000 GREENFIELD John Mishoe sold property at 463 Allen Road to Michael Forlini for $390,000 John Duffney sold property at 288 North Greenfield to Kelly Rozembersky for $270,000 MALTA  Timothy Albright sold property at 54 Shore Ave to Joseph DiDonna for $800,000 Jennifer Hogan sold property at 5 Plum Poppy South to Dustin Mullen for $475,000 Nicolas Aragosa sold property at 10 Scotch Mist Way to Steven…
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