Jonathon Norcross

Jonathon Norcross

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.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Forest Spirit was a race horse with some impressive showings at Saratoga, Belmont Park, and Finger Lakes before his career met an abrupt end. A vet noticed bowing in one of his ankles, and his owners decided to take him out of competition rather than risk a catastrophic injury. Now in the care of Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga, Forest Spirit needs surgery.

“Unfortunately, the day he got here he coliced,” said Megan Koloskie, Development Manager of Therapeutic Horses, “so we caught it before it got bad enough to where he needed surgery.” Forest Spirit was then okay for a while, but “the poor guy has undergone a lot of trials since then,” Koloskie said. Those trials included a wry nose, a condition that resulted in a tooth fragment that is affecting his sinuses. “He will remain here as a therapy horse, he won’t be able to be ridden,” Koloskie said. “Hopefully this surgery will give him the relief that he needs to be happy.”

To raise funds for that surgery, Therapeutic Horses of Saratoga is hosting an event as part of “Leap of Kindness Day” on February 29 at the Horseshoe Inn Bar and Grill. All proceeds from the ticket sales, raffles, and donations will go toward Spirit’s operation.

For more information visit

MOREAU — A proposed moratorium that would temporarily prohibit building commercial, industrial, and manufacturing properties in the Town of Moreau has met fierce opposition from local business leaders, one of whom said the idea has already been dropped by the town supervisor.

Sam Wahnon, a Moreau commercial property owner, said that Moreau Town Supervisor Jesse A. Fish, Jr. came to his office after a town board meeting. “He said that he met with the rest of the town board members and they decided to not do a commercial ban on building,” Wahnon said. “‘No moratorium on commercial property’ is what he told me.”

In the town board meeting, Wahnon expressed his opposition to the proposed moratorium. “I addressed the board and told them that what they were doing was a terrible thing and un-American and that if they do it, I’m going to get very angry and if I get very angry, then they’re going to get very angry and it’s going to end up in a situation,” Wahnon said.

Wahnon said Supervisor Fish “decided it wouldn’t be right to put a commercial moratorium on commercial property in the town of Moreau just because of another problem. He didn’t specify what that problem was but I think we all know.” 

The temporary moratorium is widely seen as an attempt to prevent Saratoga Biochar from building a facility in the Moreau Industrial Park.

As of press time, Supervisor Fish had not responded to multiple requests for comment.

On Wednesday, the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) released a letter to Supervisor Fish encouraging him to drop the moratorium, stating that “the enforcement action you propose would be contrary to reasonable and responsible efforts to expand Moreau’s tax base, create investment opportunities, and add and retain full-time jobs.” The letter was signed by SEDC President and CEO J. Gregory Connors.

The proposed moratorium, known as Local Law No. 2, would temporarily prohibit “the review, approval of applications, and granting of building and other municipal permits for land use approvals in the commercial, industrial, and manufacturing zoning districts within the Town of Moreau.”

SARATOGA SPRINGS — In 2016, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce launched Leap of Kindness Day, an initiative that encourages community members to spend their leap day engaging in acts of kindness and charity. Since then, the idea has taken off and been adopted by organizations around the world.

A map provided by Chamber President Todd Shimkus showed that Leap of Kindness day has spread to Canada, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Senegal. “We currently have 180 different communities around the globe signed up to participate, and the list is growing every day,” Shimkus told Saratoga TODAY. “It’s really amazing to see how Leap of Kindness Day keeps growing, and it’s exciting to learn about all the unique ways folks are spreading kindness in their communities.”

Shimkus said that the Saratoga Chamber has been providing guidance to other chambers that are participating in the event. “We have given tips on how to organize a successful Leap of Kindness Day, along with graphics to use and a press release template.”

Those interested in participating in Leap of Kindness Day 2024 can view the Chamber’s list of nonprofit requests at

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Tickets for the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival sold quickly this week. Presale began shortly before noon on Wednesday, while tickets for the general public went on sale at 10 a.m. on Thursday. As of 11:20 a.m. on Thursday, single day seating was sold out. About 30 minutes later, single day general admission tickets had also sold out. All tickets for Saturday, June 8 (Belmont Stakes day) were gone by the end of the week.

Some presale buyers were fooled by an advertisement on the Belmont Stakes tickets page, which featured a green “Continue” button that linked to another site asking for credit card information. A message above the advertisement that read “paid banners below are not related to Belmont Stakes Ticket Sales” appeared to have been added later. Other prospective presale buyers said that when they tried to buy specific tickets, the Ticketmaster website suddenly said the tickets were no longer available. Some reported they were unable to buy tickets at all, despite having access to presale.

WILTON — A Wilton resident and maritime archaeologist who studied Lake George shipwrecks was admitted as a Fellow into the Royal Geographical Society earlier this month. 

In the 1980s, Joseph W. Zarzynski was a Saratoga Springs school teacher whose life took an unexpected turn when a friend of his found a World War II bomber in Loch Ness. Zarzynski took a leave of absence from teaching, went to Scotland, and thought “wow, I want to be an underwater archaeologist.”  Zarzynski went back to school and earned a second master’s degree in Archaeology and Heritage from the University of Leicester in England.

While in upstate New York, Zarzynski took up recreational diving in Lake George, and became fascinated by the shipwrecks there. “A group of British shipwrecks were put into the lake in what is called a ‘wet storage’ in the winter of 1758,” Zarzynski said. The British decided to sink the fleet in shallow water and raise them in the spring of 1759 for a campaign against the French in the Champlain Valley. “It was pretty difficult raising vessels, so there were probably four dozen plus that were not recovered,” Zarzynski said. “So they became the focal point of some research we did in earnest from 1987 right up until I stopped diving in the lake in 2016.”

From 1987 until 2011, Zarzynski directed Bateaux Below, a nonprofit that mapped dozens of Lake George shipwrecks.  In 1990, he led the team that used a Klein side scan sonar to discover the 1758 Land Tortoise radeau, a floating gun battery from the French and Indian War. In 1998, the Land Tortoise was listed as a National Historic Landmark. A few years ago,  Zarzynski’s book, “Ghost Fleet Awakened: Lake George’s Sunken Bateaux of 1758” was published by SUNY Press. It was Zarzynski’s use of geography in studying the famed “Sunken Fleet of 1758” that helped land him in the Royal Geographical Society after a lengthy application process.

Zarzynski will be teaching several workshops at the Fort William Henry Museum in Lake George later this year. Museum visitors can also visit the underwater archaeology exhibit room to see a painting of a 31-foot long shipwreck created by a nonprofit that Zarzynski spearheads. His eight book, “Fort William Henry’s Moments in Time” was published in August of last year. 

The Royal Geographical Society was founded in London in 1830. According to the organization’s website, “the Society’s purpose remains the same today as when first founded, namely the advancement of geographical science.” In addition to Zarzynski, other Fellows include Sir Ernest Shackleton, Sir Edmund Hillary, and Clive Cussler.

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