SARATOGA SPRINGS – A pair of multi-million-dollar deals in the heart of the city’s downtown district will affect three long-standing fixtures in a real estate overture that may best be titled: Broadway Variations.
The Saratoga Downtowner motel, constructed on Broadway and Division Street in 1963, was sold to the Lark Hotel group for $4.55 million, according to records at the Saratoga County Clerk’s office. Meanwhile, Cantina restaurant owner Jeff Ames, located across the street and a half-block away from the motel, has purchased for $2.2 million the former Lillian’s Restaurant on Broadway, where he anticipates opening a new two-story Cantina restaurant next May.
“I thought long and hard about making this move, but it was an opportunity to own my own building,” said Ames, adding that the new location will be a lot more “bistro-ey.” Ames is selling the lease at the current Cantina restaurant, where he opened for business in 2007, for $699,000.
After nearly 18 years of operating their 42-room motel on Broadway, Mary Cae Asay and her husband, Bill, have sold the Saratoga Downtowner to Lark Hotels. The company will be making its first entry into New York and currently operates intimately sized boutique hotels in Maine and Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Mendocino, California - a coastal community north of San Francisco.
“I am really pleased about this new hotel group coming in because they have a focus on a sense of place. They want it to reflect Saratoga. They’re going to renovate it and I think they’re going to bring a refreshed vitality to the corner here,” said Mary Cae Asay. She said she will miss seeing the thousands of picture-takers capturing images of her garden outside the motel as well as many longtime guests, some of whom have stayed in the same room year-after-year, and have made the experience feel more akin to having visiting relatives come for a stay.
“Maintaining the integrity of Saratoga was really important to me. We had multiple offers, but I was very grateful that this particular one worked out because they’re interested in keeping such a strong sense of Saratoga as part of their new business,” said Asay, who recently opened an office on Maple Avenue where she uses a holistic device – called a BEMER - to aid people in their healing. Her husband, Bill, plans on continuing to coach the Saratoga Springs High School boys swim team, as he’s done since the Asays first moved to the area.
“The other thing I’m going to do is now go visit my guests, at their inns and restaurants and shops. They’ve come to my place, now I’m going to go to theirs,” Asay said. “A lot of these people have come to the Downtowner for 15, 20, 30, 40 years. That’s how loyal and traditional our guests are. They love coming back to the Downtowner. We are the fourth owners since 1963 and I feel honored to be a part of that history.”
Lark Hotels CEO Rob Blood said in an email response that the company is excited to become part of the Saratoga community and to write the next chapter for the Downtowner. “While we are not yet ready to fully reveal our plans for the motel, I can say that our repositioning will focus on the cultural and creative community that is such an important part of the Saratoga Springs area,” Blood said. “We are currently targeting a summer 2018 opening for the property and look forward to unveiling more detailed plans soon."
BALLSTON SPA – They descended on the village of Ballston Spa Tuesday – politicians and lawyers and election officials, members of the media and curious onlookers – on an unpredictable morning which gave no hint of the cold winter that will surely come, and no clue about how the prized chips of the day might fall.
All present crowded into a sub-level room at the county complex, Building Number Five. The “solar building,” as employees call it, was constructed atop land deeded to Saratoga County nearly 200 years ago by a New York City merchant named Nicholas Low for the development of a County Clerk’s office, assuring Ballston Spa would stand at the center of county government.
On this day, the 30-or-so people inside the building’s sub-level basement came to witness the opening and counting of approximately 550 absentee ballots. Some carried with them a cautious optimism to re-affirm the seat they’d won on Election Night remained secure, others with an angst-riddled hope that what they had lost might be regained. Most came to witness the counting of votes of the public referendum that could change the only form of governing the city of Saratoga Springs has known in its 102-year history.
The Election Night tally depicted a city divided and a race too close to call. Of the nearly 8,500 ballots cast, the difference was a measly 48 votes. There were 4,202 YES votes cast that urged Charter Change. There were 4,154 NO votes registered in favor of maintaining the status quo. The counting of the absentee ballots, most assumed, would settle the final score.
The current Commission form of governing relies on five elected part-time council members, each of whom are responsible for administering their own department, as well as serving as legislators. The proposed Council-Manager form of governing would see that the council hires a non-partisan, professional city manager to carry out city policies.
10:16 a.m.: The first handful of ballots are taken from their envelopes and displayed to watchers. Saratoga Springs District Two, Embury Apartments: Yes. No. Yes. No. No. Yes. No. No. Attorneys scrawl stick figures atop their legal pads. The No’s have gained two votes. The overall Yes lead of 48 drops to 46.
11 a.m.: More districts come in. The count: 18 Yes, 32 No. Overall Yes lead drops to 34.
12:30 a.m.: Break for lunch. The count on the day: Yes 128, No 161. Yes lead drops another 19 votes. Math update, overall: Yes 4,330, No 4,315. Overall Yes lead drops to 15. Fortified by sandwiches and fueled by caffeine, everyone returns from lunch and is moved upstairs to a bigger room. First up, one of the Senior Citizens Center’s voting districts. Result: 7 Yes, 14 No. Overall: 4,337 to 4,329. Yes lead up by eight.
2:02 p.m.: Saratoga Springs High School Gym voting district - 10 Yes, 17 No. Overall: 4,347 to 4,346. Yes clings to the lead by one vote. Stress begins to show on the some of the faces in the room.
2:15 p.m.: City Center voting district: Yes 24, No 18. Yes back up by seven. Deep breaths on all sides. Over the next half hour, voting districts at United Methodist Church, a second Senior Citizens Center, and the Interlaken Community Center are presented, collectively giving the No count 18 additional votes, and the lead. The room loses its mind. There are some audible noises. Whether these are cries of joy, or cries of pain are difficult to determine. At this point, it’s hard to tell the difference.
3 p.m.: The mailman arrives. An election commissioner is dispatched to meet the mail carrier to learn if any last-minute absentee ballots have arrived on this, the deadline day. Inside the room, the counting continues of ballots from the city’s two final districts. And then it is over. The No votes have it, by seven.
But, wait, suddenly five more ballots are presented. These were set aside during the course of the day’s counting, one of the election officials explains.
“It ain’t over til it’s over, and it ain’t over yet,” says Richard Sellers, a spokesman for SUCCESS, a citizen organization that supports maintaining the current form of governing. “It feels a lot better to be up by seven than down by 48, or whatever it was a week ago (but) “I’ll celebrate when they tell me it’s over.”
“It’s a squeaker,” says Charter Review Commissioner Treasurer Gordon Boyd. The commission, which officially disbanded when the polls closed Election Night, conducted 16 months of study, staged dozens of public meetings and voted to pursue the possibility of Charter Change and adopt a council-manager form of governing. A decade ago, Boyd was a member of the SUCCESS group. This time he is part of the pro-change group. In the exploration of Charter alternatives, some residents have changed their minds over time and party lines crossed, making it all the more difficult to gauge which way the majority will go.
Adding to the unpredictability, the members of the City Council have also taken sides - this despite the words of state Board of Elections attorney Brian Quail, who said advocacy by a municipality on a referendum question is unlawful, and that a municipality hiring counsel to participate in a canvas conducted by the Board of Elections is, in his 16 years of experience, unprecedented.
Twenty-four hours earlier, City Council members John Franck, Michele Madigan and Anthony “Skip” Scirocco – each of whom have spoken in favor of maintaining the current form of governing, approved by a 3-0 vote the hiring of a Glens Falls attorney and an associate attorney at the combined rate of $525 per hour to observe Tuesday's event and “defend the city’s right to have all proper absentee ballots counted.” The two council members who have spoken in favor of changing the form of governing, Mayor Joanne Yepsen and Commissioner Chris Mathiesen, did not attend Monday’s “Special” City Council meeting. John Aspland, the main attorney hired to observe the absentee ballot count does just that, occasionally inking notes on a legal pad throughout the day.
Those last five ballots, the “set-asides,”are presented. Two are ruled invalid. The other three are held up, one at a time: No, no, and…no.
The unofficially tally stands at 4,458 No, 4,448 Yes. It is a calculation that would require the re-beading of an abacus: 50.06141926 percent No, 49.943858073 percent Yes. Approximately half the city’s eligible 18,000 voters took part in the vote.
“The absentee ballots came in strong just as they did in 2012 when the Commission form of government beat down a challenge,” Sellers says.
The 2012 vote which proposed amending the Charter and replacing the Commission form of government with a Manager-Council form resulted in 6,738 - 4,872 No victory, a 58-42 percent difference. A referendum in 2006 proposing a change to a strong-mayor form of government was voted down 5865-3615, roughly a 62-38 difference. Counting this year’s referendum, the margin of differences have grown smaller with each successive vote.
“I don’t think the issue of the form of government in Saratoga Springs is going to go away any time soon,” a disappointed Boyd says. “But I think we have a lot to be proud of, a lot to build on. This was a people’s campaign. We had the forces of both political party leaderships and the government of Saratoga (springs) mobilized against this proposal and we fought them pretty much to a draw.”
Eighteen Military Ballots were requested, as of this week, none have been returned. They must be received by the Board of Elections by Monday, Nov. 20 to be counted, and indications are any which do arrive will be counted Tuesday, Nov. 21.
Boyd was asked whether the referendum vote could be headed for the courtroom. “I don’t know. I just don’t know,” he responds. “We want to be sure that every valid vote has been counted.”
Bob Turner, who served as chairman of the Saratoga Springs City Charter Review Commission, said there are currently conversations being had regarding “overvotes,” which occurs when one votes for more than the maximum number of selections allowed in a contest. Turner said he doesn’t know the specific number of overvotes that appeared on voter’s ballots, but the incident could occur when voters hand write-in candidates on the front of the ballot and inked traces appear as multiple markings appear on the ballot’s reverse side, which is where Charter Change proposition question was printed.
“We’re exploring the processes. That could lead to a hand count of all 8,000-something ballots,” Turner said. That decision whether to pursue the matter could come early next week. The ballot numbers remain unofficial until they are certified by the Board of Elections. That process is anticipated to take at least a few weeks.
SARATOGA SPRINGS - At precisely seven minutes after 11 on the night of Nov. 7, Meg Kelly was declared winner as the 21st mayor of the city of Saratoga Springs.
“I have so much to be grateful for,” Kelly told an exuberant crowd at the Inn at Saratoga where her fellow Democrats congregated election night. “I have a crew that has worked endless hours, with a limited budget, and we killed it.”
Members of the Republican Party were stationed directly across the street at the Holiday Inn, where a near-life size cardboard figure of President Donald Trump greeted all who entered.
Kelly, currently the city’s deputy mayor, will begin her two-year-term Jan. 1, 2018. She defeated Republican candidate Mark Baker 4,630 - 3,911, or by a 54.13 percent to 45.73 percent margin. There were 8,742 ballots cast in the mayoral race.
Voters also elected Democrat Peter Martin as commissioner of public safety. Martin - currently one of two supervisors representing the city at the county level – defeated Republican Donald Braim by a narrow 4,217 to 4,021 margin, and Democrat Francine Vero bested Republican challenger Andrew Blumenberg by a wide margin for the city judgeship.
In the vote to elect two city supervisors, 8,724 ballots were cast. Republican incumbent Matt Veitch - with 28.76 percent of the vote, and Democrat Tara Gaston – with 24.3 percent of the vote, were chosen to serve the city. Democrat Pat Friesen (22.94 percent), Republican John Safford (22.39 percent), and Green Party candidate Joseph Levy (1.56 percent) finished out of the running.
Republican DPW Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco, and Democrats John Franck, accounts commissioner, and Michele Madigan, finance commissioner, were each re-elected in uncontested races for City Council seats. Between 243 and 295 votes were cast in the three uncontested races for write-in candidates, garnering approximately four to five percent of the overall tally in each race. The names of those write-in candidates will be documented and made public later this month, according to the Saratoga County Board of Elections.
Kelly vowed to preserve the greenbelt, fix the city’s parking issues, and work collaboratively with the council’s four other members.
Current city Mayor Joanne Yepsen, who chose not to run for re-election, reminisced Tuesday about the night she first secured elected office by becoming the city supervisor in the 2005 election.
"Twelve years ago, I stood in this room and accepted my first job in public service," Yepsen recalled. Since announcing her decision to not seek re-election as mayor, there has been much public speculation about her future political plans.
"There will be no formal announcement this evening," Yepsen said. Asked whether she is keeping the proverbial door open to a political run in the future, Yepsen replied, "I'll always have an eye on how to help people more, always an eye on the political landscape."
Residents also voted in favor of changing the city’s Commission form of governing 4,202 to 4,154, but the miniscule margin of victory requires absentee ballots be counted. The county Board of Elections mailed 711 such absentee ballots and those returned by Nov. 14 will be counted on Tuesday, when a clear winner may be determined.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – After 16 months of study, dozens of public meetings, threats of litigation, and a volley of contentious words, 8,356 city residents headed to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether to change, or maintain the Commission form of governing that has ruled the city for the past 102 years. The Election Day verdict: Too Close To Call.
At the end of the day, residents in favor of adopting a new Charter held a 4,202 to 4,154 advantage, but the narrow margin of victory requires that absentee ballots be counted. The county Board of Elections mailed 711 such absentee ballots and more than 500 were received back, by Election Day. Those ballots have yet to be counted.
Ballots returned by Nov. 14 - the last day absentee ballots may be received at the county Board of Elections - will be counted on Tuesday, Nov. 14, after which a clear winner may be determined. Military ballots have until Nov. 20 to be received at the county board. Military ballots are anticipated to number less than 20 in total, although that count could not be officially verified by Thursday.
Less than half of the approximately 18,000 registered city voters took part in Tuesday’s election; More than 95 percent of city residents who did cast ballots voted one way or another on The Saratoga Springs Charter Proposition.
The study of ramifications in changing from a Commission form of government to a Council-Manager form has been lengthy, and the dialogue among some, contentious.
After a proposal was put forth to stage the referendum last May rather than in November, there was significant push-back from City Council members John Franck, Michele Madigan, and DPW Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco - three commissioners who coincidentally ran unopposed in their respective re-election campaigns. “This will come down to a lawsuit, I suspect, and the courts will decide what they’re going to do with this,” Franck said in February. “There may even be a lawsuit at the City Council level.”
Election Day was anticipated as the date to finally settle the matter. But given the slim 48-vote difference - with those in favor of change leading the count - it has not turned out that way.
“I woke up this morning and thought: win or lose the charter debate was going to end today,” Saratoga Springs City Charter Review Commission Chairman Bob Turner said in the early morning hours following the election tally. “I realize now, we’re just beginning. It’s like Florida 2000 all over again and I have a feeling it’s going to be drawn out to a re-count, and a hand-count of ballots.” Turner is in favor of Charter change.
“I have a feeling we are heading toward very brand-new legal territory in the next week,” Turner said. “New York Municipal Home Rule Law 36, which governs the charter review process, (says) the charter review commission ends on the day of election, so it’s not even clear whether we are going to have legal standing after today. Who is turn is representing the voters who at present are up 48 votes?”
Accounts Commissioner John Franck on Thursday called for a Special City Council meeting to take place at noon on Monday to hire an election law attorney "to defend the city’s right to have all proper absentee ballots counted and defending the city’s voters in any potential court proceedings."
“It is new territory,” said Richard Sellers, a spokesman for SUCCESS, a citizen organization that supports maintaining the current form of governing. “We’re reminded of the cliché that every vote counts, and we are waiting for all the votes to be counted. We’re confident in the Saratoga County Board of Elections and we look forward to a clear outcome.”
The county Board of Elections is anticipated to begin counting absentee ballots on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
Paul Nasrani walked through Grand Central Terminal on a cold wintry day when a moment of opportunity suddenly intervened, offering him the possibility to fulfill a childhood dream.
“Every summer, I’d spend a couple of weeks in August up in Lake George, in Silver Bay,” Nasrani recalled. “There was this well-over 100-year-old ice cream store that was everybody’s gathering place and I was allowed to have a hot fudge sundae, five nights a week, which was pretty awesome. That was etched in my mind as a child.”
Nasrani worked in Manhattan and became the CFO of a mid-size corporation, his days occupied with his professional work in finance and accounting, his nights at play feeding a love of creating ice cream.
“I started experimenting in a small studio apartment in Manhattan. Imagine this tiny place with one room and a kitchen you stand in, making ice cream at night and bringing it in to work for my co-workers every day,” he says. “They loved it. They even got me a bigger maker, which I had to put in the tub because I couldn’t fit it in the kitchen,” he laughs. “It was insanity, but it was fun. Any time I had a free moment I’d visit dairies and ice cream plants. I’d knock on doors and hope somebody would let me in. I learned a lot from people.”
It was this yearning he carried with him inside the cathedral-like building of the Grand Central Terminal, where among the bustling crowds on a landscape of marble he noticed some equipment from a former ice cream store up for auction.
“I ended up buying a machine. I quit my job. I put the machine on a trailer and moved up to Silver Bay,” he says. Nasrani set up shop in the hamlet of Silver Bay, which sits alongside Lake George, an hour’s drive north of downtown Saratoga Springs.
“I can remember being about 12 years old and sitting there thinking: someday I’m going to have an ice cream company and we’re going to sell the ice cream in the Silver Bay store. And I did do that. We did make ice cream there and we did sell it at the store.”
Nasrani founded Adirondack Creamery at Silver Bay and with a yearning for growth found a dairy in Kingston where he was able to design his own ice cream based on an old-fashioned recipe of cream, milk, sugar and egg yolks. More expansion followed. One of the company’s primary distributors is located in Saratoga on Edie Road, and a dairy production facility in Queens enabled Adirondack Creamery to release all-natural flavors in pint packaging that could be sold at retail stores.
Today, the company boasts more than a dozen different flavors and includes seasonal favorites like Pumpkin Pie, Peppermint Stick and Egg Nog, and limited-edition offerings such as Caramel Apple, made only with ingredients from upstate New York.
The latest flavor is a Syrian date and walnut creation inspired by the middle-eastern treat, ma’amoul.
“I’m not Syrian, but immigration really reflects on my own personal life, my own family history. I grew up in a part in northeastern Pennsylvania where most of the people were ancestors of coal miners who came in the late 1800s and the 1900s for the same thing. They were suffering and there was famine. They were persecuted and came here to live a different life and to have a future,” Nasrani says.
“My father was emigrated from post-partition India in the ‘60s in Pakistan, trying to get away from discrimination and find opportunity and growth, to have a family and be able to be who he wanted to be. My mother’s family dates back to the Mayflower and the pilgrims – and those people also came here looking for a better future - and so all of that has had an impact on me personally.”
Nasrani found out about a Syrian refugee family who started making ma’amoul treats and selling them online.
“I ordered a whole bunch of them and I loved it. That’s when it all clicked,” Nasrani says. “I thought: you know let me make an ice cream flavor and see if I can put this together. The idea is that what’s unique about this is that in America we adopt flavors from other countries, put them in our kitchen and make them our own. The ma’amoul ice cream follows that same line. You know when people share food it breaks down a lot of cultural barriers. It reminds us that we’re more similar than we are different.”
The label’s packaging proclaims “Peace” in Arabic, English and Hebrew and is designed to bring focus to the plight of Syrian families seeking refuge who do not have a voice. Nasrani is donating half the profits of the ma’amoul ice cream to the International Rescue Committee. The organization responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future.
You might wonder what a love of ice cream does to a person’s personal life.
“When I met (the woman who would be) my wife, she assumed I was some boring finance guy. On our third date I told her, ‘You’re not going to want to date me anymore. I’m quitting my job and moving up to Lake George.’ I thought she was going to be like, ‘Goodbye. You’re not going to make any money and you’re moving.’ Well now we’ve been married for 12 years and have two kids,” Nasrani says. “I won her over. It’s been an exciting journey.”
Adirondack Creamery’s Syrian Date and Walnut flavor ice cream is currently available at the following regional stores, with more stores to be added in the coming weeks: Four Seasons Natural Foods, 120 Henry St., Saratoga Springs; Just Meats, 1023 Route 29, Schuylerville; select ShopRite supermarkets in Albany, Colonie, Niskayuna and Slingerlands; the Honest Weight Co-Op in Albany, and Niskayuna Co-Op in Schenectady.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Starting in September, the Saratoga Springs City School District (SSCSD) began its’ 2017-2018 Parent University Programs. In Sept., the district released their School Emergency Response Video. The video discussed the district’s emergency planning and a parent’s role in an emergency. The video also provided information for parent-student reunification and the explained the ongoing efforts to keep students safe. The video is available online all year for review.
In October, SSCSD presented four lectures all in the same line of thinking: “Mindfulness: Top 10 Reasons to Give it a Try,” presented by District School Psychologist Laurie Newcomer. The purpose was to learn how mindfulness can help in the everyday life. Anti-bullying and Bystander Empowerment for Parents also took place in Oct. and was presented by the Sweethearts and Heroes organization. This parent program focuses on defining bullying vs. conflict the principles of compassionate empathy (CE). Parents also learned the role that technology played into their children’s lives as well as the fundamentals of cyber-bullying. “It’s All in the Way You Say It: Communicating Effectively with Your Child’s Education,” this workshop highlights the essential elements of effective communication that is critical for positive home and school relationships. Participants learned practical steps for working with their child’s educational team to build effective communication skills.
On every other Wednesday in November (1, 15, 29) there will be another Parent University lecture.
On Nov. 1 “The Emotional and Developmental Challenges of Adolescence” present by Dr. Michael Prezioso will take place in the Maple Ave Large Group Instruction Room at 6:30 p.m. Prezioso will discuss the transition between childhood and adult life.
On Wednesday, Nov. 15, the District DASA Committee will present “What Does ‘Dignity’ for All Look Like in Saratoga. This lecture will be about the DASA law and its impact on school procedures. It will be in the MacFadden Administration Building at 6:30 p.m.
On Wednesday, Dec. 5 The Prevention Council will present an interactive presentation called Hidden Mischief at 6:30 p.m. in the Saratoga Springs High School Library. Parents of high school students are invited to attend the PTSO meeting at 5:45 p.m. Hidden Mischief shows the clever ways teens are hiding drug and alcohol use and how to spot the signs and talk to them about it.
January will have three lectures. On Tuesday, Jan. 23, Sports Related Concussions for K-12 Families will be presented by Eric Deim, held at Caroline St. Elementary School at 6:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, Jan. 30, District Psychologist Laurie Newcomer at the Maple Ave Large Group Instruction Room will present The Real Happiness Challenge at 6:30 p.m.
On Wednesday, Jan. 31, Dr. Randy Cale will present Addicted to Electronics? Learn to Manage Technology, With Real Limits and Practical Solution. This program will take place at Dorothy Nolan Elementary School at 9:30 a.m.
February will have one lecture; on Wednesday, Feb. 28, Dr. Randy Cale will present Childhood Anxiety: How Children Needlessly Suffer and What Parents Can Do to Change This at Lake Ave. Elementary School at 6:00 p.m.
In March, two lectures will occur. On Wednesday, March 7, The Prevention Council will present Vaping: What You Need to Know. This program will at the Saratoga-Wilton Elks Lodge on 1 Elks Lane in Saratoga Springs at 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday, March 28, Dr. Randy Cale will be back to present Motivating the “Unmotivated” Child: How to Think and Act Differently. This will be at the Geyser Road Elementary School at 9:30 a.m.
Monday, April 16 will be the final lecture in the Parent University Programs for the year. At 9:30 a.m. at the Caroline Street Elementary School Dr. Randy Cale will lecture on Managing Technology: Sensible Ways to Set Limits and Why You Must Do This Now.
“Parenting and educating our students is one of life’s most important and demanding pursuits. The SSCSD continues its community-focused mission of supporting our families and community members through Parent University, a series of free, informative programs,” said the official statement.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The prevailing practice of kids selling water for a buck-a-bottle to patrons outside the entry gates of the Saratoga Race Course will no longer be permitted, announced city Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen, who said he has fielded numerous complaints connected with the issue.
“This is something that was (started) with the best of intentions, but it’s turned into something that has been quite a drain and everybody in our department is fed up with what’s been happening,” Mathiesen said.
The act was never legal to begin with, with no sales tax charted, and no licensing involved. Vendors are typically required to obtain a license to sell their wares in Saratoga Springs. A 1934 ordinance exempts from the city’s licensing ordinance the sale of milk, periodicals and newspapers – the latter of which is a common practice outside the racecourse, and which will be allowed continue.
“A number of years ago, one of our code enforcement officers, Dan Cogan, was trying to be a really good guy and make it possible for kids to be able to sell bottled water at the track as a way for them to make some money,” Mathiesen explained. The suggested guidelines stipulated the seller be 14 years of age or younger and allotted a one cooler maximum, filled with water bottles. “It’s turned into something that has gotten way out of control,” Mathiesen said. “Unless the City Council acts otherwise, this illegal activity is not going to take place in 2018.”
Current Code Enforcement officer Jack Donnelly supplied a letter that cited numerous complaints involving kids obstructing traffic, older folks – not just kids – selling and refilling multiple coolers of water, and families arguing with one another about their “spot,” to the point where the police had to intervene.
“This past season was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Code Enforcement. My department was constantly badgered and disrespected by a few of the water bottle salespersons this season,” reads Donnelly’s report, which adds that the safety of the unattended children could not be guaranteed given the large crowds of people going in and out of the racecourse. “I feel Code Enforcement should not be burdened with having to babysit an illegal endeavor.”
City Police Chief Greg Veitch released a statement which reinforced safety concerns and noted some coolers have been chained to race course fences overnight in an attempt to hold that vendor’s “spot,” and police have witnessed several unattended children selling water for hours at a time from multiple coolers re-stocked multiple times by parents throughout the day.
“While the police have no interest in closing down the lemonade stands of small children looking to make a few dollars – unfortunately, like many things in life, the actions of a few have led to a decision to ban all unlicensed water sales from the area around the racetrack beginning in the 2018 racing season,” Veitch said.
Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco suggested the city explore the possibility of a lottery-type system which would allow some kids, under regulated guidelines, to continue to sell water and subsequently learn some entrepreneurial lessons.
“If you regulate it, you have to accept responsibility for it, collect sales tax and declare income on a regular basis,” Mathiesen said. “There are a lot of hurdles there.” According to Assistant City Attorney Tony Izzo, a similar lottery practice was instituted during the 1990s, but resulted in an unfair flooding by some “entrepreneurs” of the lottery box.
“Even the people inside the track like to come out and buy the water because it’s only a dollar compared to like five dollars inside,” Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said. “I’m not going to sit here and argue about something that’s essentially illegal – but if there’s a way to do it legally, where it’s enforced and safe and kids can be supervised, I think the next Council should probably take a look at it.”
[Photos by www.PhotoandGraphic.com, Lori Mahan, and Ruth Thivierge.]
Three area teams remain undefeated this season. These teams are the Saratoga Springs Blue Streaks, the Schuylerville Horses, and the Burnt Hills – Ballston Lake Spartans.
How is it possible that three local teams can all be undefeated? The teams represent different classes and leagues, based on school size, with Saratoga being the largest of the classes, Section 2 Class AA, in the Empire Football League. We sat down with each coach this week to get their take on the current season.
BURNT HILLS – BALLSTON LAKE
Coach Matt Shell is very happy with how well the season has gone so far.
“The kids are working hard, we’re excited to be in the position that we’re in. We have a big game this week and we have to make sure we’re ready to play at such a high level.”
He’s happy with his offensive line and continues to see improvements on the defensive line, which has a few new players this year.
“Our defense has improved week to week,” he said.
In game one, they played Queensbury, which Shelly described as a “real good game.”
Averill Park was a tough team to beat but they were able to thanks to making some big plays at key times in the game.
“The team just works really hard and they’ve been doing a good job. Their work ethic has been good and fundamentally, they do a good job of working on the basics of the game to improve,” Shell said.
With practices Monday through Thursday, the Spartans stay busy and motivated.
Coach John Bowen is equally enthusiastic about his team’s season.
“I would definitely say to this point that the success we’ve been able to have has been a direct attribute to the way the kids work Monday through Thursday. Friday nights are for them. It’s their time. You allow them to showcase everything they’ve worked for. We’ve got a great group of kids who are willing to listen to and employ anything we ask of them,” Bowen said.
Bowen makes sure that the team stays focused on the week ahead and nothing beyond that.
“I’ve been very proud of the fact that the boys have really kept their focus and not allowed themselves to get ahead of the schedule in any given week. They’ve been really dialed into that week’s opponent,” Bowen explained.
Coach Terry Jones is making a comeback after last season.
“I think it’s great to be at this point, especially considering all of our games have been in our division. Winning our first five games has secured us the number one seed in the Empire Division, which guarantees us a playoff game in week eight and in week nine if we win the game in week eight. That’s one of the goals we set out with, was to win our division. We’re not looking past any of our goals as far as the rest of the season goes, we’re focusing on Albany this week,” Jones explained.
Last season was difficult for the Blue Streaks, they had a number of injuries and were unsure of how the team would perform this season.
“For example, Wes Eglintine, is in his third year on varsity but as a sophomore, he saw very limited action as a quarterback because we have a two-year starter and then last year he was lost in the week one game and here he is in his third year. We weren’t sure how things would go for him as a quarterback. He’s been doing great!” Jones said.
Sequoia Cumming was one for two in the game last week and will be kicking in the homecoming game on Friday, Oct. 6.
“We’ve had a number of kids who have performed outstanding all year long. We’ve had some kids go down with injuries and other kids step in to fill their roles and we’ve had a number of kids who have performed outstanding and even above our expectations,” Jones explained.
“We knew the talent was there,” he said, “and we knew that if things came together we could get to this point, but you never know how 16 and 17 year-olds are going to perform when the lights go on.”
Saratoga Springs will have their homecoming game on Friday, Oct. 6 at 7:00 p.m.
Check back on the Saratoga TODAY Newspaper Facebook page after the games this week for updates.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A 16-year-old student who allegedly “posted a story on snapchat about shooting up the school,” according to court documents, was charged Friday with making a terroristic threat.
Julius Cucinella, age 16, was charged with the felony after city police were made aware Friday morning of a threat posted on the social media network, Snap Chat.
The social media post caused the school district to be alarmed and fear for the safety of its students and staff, according to court records.
According to a statement issued by police, a school resource officer assigned to the high school initiated an investigation and was able to identify Cucinella as the source of the post. The investigation into the post did not indicate anyone else being involved in the threat.
The student was arraigned and released on $500 cash bail and is scheduled to return to court Oct. 3.
The terroristic threat charge went on the books shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, with a sentence range of 2 to 7 years in prison. The first known person to have been charged with making such a threat locally was a 42-year-old Skidmore College graduate who in May 2007 telephoned the college's Alumni Welcome Center and left a threatening message on the answering machine stating that he was coming to the campus with his M-16 rifle to cause harm.
Who: Wade Boggs, Major League Hall-of-Famer. Boggs appeared in 12 All Star games and won five American League batting titles during an 18-year baseball career, 11 of those with the Boston Red Sox. In 1996, he won a World Series as a member of the New York Yankees.
Where: Saratoga Casino Hotel.
What did you think of your home run performance during the All-Star Celebrity Softball game?
I look at it like this: Jose Canseco was 1-for-3 in his first three swings, and we have similar body types, so I had to make a 50-and-older softball league run here.
You retired from baseball more than 15 years ago. How do you stay in baseball shape?
I coach high school baseball in Tampa, Florida, so I take BP (batting practice) with the kids and get to hit periodically. But it’s a whole different animal with the softball and the lobbing it in.
How do you feel about the day overall?
It was great to come out here. We had a huge crowd and it was a wonderful day. We even had the jockeys out here – and I’m considered a jockey since I rode a horse in ’96.
Interacting with the fans is the main thing. Everyone’s so gracious to come out and enjoy an afternoon playing a little softball, seeing some famous people and hopefully we don’t embarrass ourselves in front of people. You look around and everyone’s having a great day. We couldn’t ask for a better day in New York
Is there a camaraderie that bonds together athletes from different sports?
Absolutely. It gives us a different opportunity to get into their world. You sit around and talk with the guys. We hang around with hall-of-famers and do our little locker room talks, but you also get into the football guys, and we got some jockeys out here. I mean, Ron Turcotte: the guy who rode Secretariat. Does it get any better than that?
What kind of conversations do you have with the other athletes?
I asked L.T. what is it when you look through that mask, and a guy’s coming at you, that you just want to knock his brains out? Does that stick with you forever? He said: at the end of your career it sort of leaves you. That’s when you know it’s time to get out of the game, when you don’t want to get hit. And it’s sort of that way in baseball. At the end of your career, you know it’s time and the only one who can answer that is you when you look in the mirror. Because you never lie to yourself when you look in the mirror.
Did Anyone’s performance especially surprise you?
Angel Cordero. He said he couldn’t hit and then he walks out there and hits a rope to left field. I said, ‘Dude, we could have had you leading off the whole time!’
The purpose today is that you’re out here raising money for charity.Well, that’s what we do. We’re facilitators of raising money when we can come out and lend our name and draw these crowds. And when you go home at night and put your head on the pillow, there’s a big smile on my face knowing we raised money for the Ronald McDonald House.