Friday, 10 February 2017 20:53

Notes from City Hall: Council Clears Hurdle for Eminent Domain

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The council unanimously approved to accept the determination and findings of the New York Eminent Domain Procedure Law as it relates to the Geyser Trail project. By voting to accept the findings, the council reserved its right to the eminent domain procedure and to subsequently seize private land, should it need to do so. The two-mile long Geyser Trail would create a continuous, non-motorized connection linking the town of Milton/Saratoga Springs city line with the Saratoga Spa State Park. The trail, which would be for seasonal and not year-round use, passes by large residential developments, the Geyser Road Elementary School, Veteran’s Memorial Park, the Grande Industrial Park, and a handful of parcels privately owned that the city would take over. The development of the trail would include portions of nine properties, seven property owners. Two of those property owners are, thus far, opposed to the development, and an opposing petition citing safety and cost concerns has garnered nearly 100 signatures. “We certainly don’t want to proceed with eminent domain proceedings if we don’t have to,” Mayor Joanne Yepsen said, adding she was hopeful an agreement may be made with the two opposing land owners. “I don’t think an eminent domain has happened in the city…ever.” By law, the city is required to provide just compensation to the owners of the properties to be taken, and up to $80,000 has been appropriated for that purpose. The findings stated, among other things, that the project serves a specific public benefit available to a broad number of city residents, and that it would not have a sufficiently negative impact on the aesthetics or the environment. The four steps in the right-of-way acquisition process include: holding an initial meeting with each property owner, a real property appraisal, establishing just compensation and negotiating a settlement and transferring title to the city. The Geyser Trail project has been in the works for more than a decade. To Uber or Not to Uber? The City Council voted 4-1 in a resolution to support bringing ride-sharing services such as Uber to upstate New York. “It provides more options for tourists as well as residents,” Mayor Joanne Yepsen said. DPC Commissioner Chris Mathiesen voted against the resolution. Any measure to bring such services upstate requires approval from the state legislature. Finance Department Appoints Acting Deputy Commissioner Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan announced the appointment of Susan Dugan-Armstrong as Acting Deputy Commissioner of Finance. Dugan-Armstrong has served as the city’s Website Content Coordinator and was responsible for the design and implementation of the City’s Smartphone Application “Saratoga Mobile.” She will fill in for Deputy Commissioner of Finance Lynn Bachner, who is on leave. DPW Names New Deputy Department of Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco last week appointed 20-year DPW veteran Frank Coppola, Jr. as Deputy Public Works Commissioner. A 1977 graduate of Saratoga Springs High School and native Saratogian, Coppola began working for DPW in 1994 as a laborer in the Water Utilities Department. In 2005 he was promoted to Working Supervisor and managed important water infrastructure projects in Saratoga Springs. “Frank has been involved in a multitude of major infrastructure projects and will be extremely valuable in our continued work to improve our city’s infrastructure and manage the DPW workforce,” Scirocco. said, in a statement. Coppola has also led a hall of fame career as a driver and trainer at the Saratoga Raceway. He was raised in the harness business, started his own stable at the age of 23 and was inducted into the Saratoga Harness Hall of Fame in 2011. Throughout his career, Coppola has won over 5,000 races and has a career purse winnings of $17,038,430. Upcoming Meetings: The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a meeting 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13 at City Hall. Design Review Commission will hold a meeting 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15 at City Hall.
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Thomas Dimopoulos

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