[Front photo shows well-adorned door to WSPN studio. Gallery photos show a section of the WSPN music library; and Skidmore students (from left) Monica Hamilton, Simon Klein, Will Scott, Clara-Sophia Daly and Adam Simon. Photos by Larry Goodwin.]
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Most Saturday mornings, anyone near Skidmore College can turn on WSPN (91.1 FM) to hear the cheerful rhythms and lyrics of “Polka Magic.”
On Sundays at noon, Godfrey Smith (DJ Godfada) sends good vibes through the air with his evolving lists of new and classic Jamaican tunes on “The Reggae Show.”
For her first broadcast each month, Skidmore student Monica Hamilton (DJ Harmonica) fills her allotted airwaves with songs created by women artists—because they deserve that honor, not just because Hamilton wants to see a lady elected president.
According to recent Skidmore graduate Simon Klein (DJ Psymon Spine), the outgoing station manager, WSPN remains on-air all year long due to the dedicated efforts of students and “community members” alike.
“It’s all a labor of love,” said Klein—a guy from Yonkers who aired multiple WSPN shows of his own over several years.
A formal student board meets once a month during Skidmore’s academic year, Klein explained, to approve WSPN’s programming and oversee its operations. In fact, student funding is what makes every WSPN broadcast possible.
Klein said the new station manager will be Skidmore student Nell Mittelstead (DJ Cold Brew), who opted to study abroad last semester. As the station librarian, Mittelstead helped arrange the expanding collection of music on WSPN’s shelves.
The station’s low-power signal fades away after about 15 miles in any direction. In addition to FM radios, though, listeners anywhere can tune in by visiting the WSPN website (http://academics.skidmore.edu/blogs/wspn/).
In his time at the helm, Klein found that the “tight-knit community” of DJs makes WSPN more sustainable than other college radio stations. He also said the “non-homogenized” music and commentary itself clearly separates WSPN from local FM stations that tend to inundate listeners with overplayed songs and commercials.
During a recent interview in WSPN’s mellow Jonsson Tower studio, Hamilton smiled and said her “Ay-Oh-River” show on Mondays compared to fellow student Will Scott’s—though “in a less funny way.”
“We all have our different interests and different skills,” added Scott (DJ Wheels), who chose to broadcast “The Dog Talk Variety Hour” on Wednesday evenings.
Hamilton gets excited about her role in an ongoing class archiving project focused on WSPN. It traces the station’s history back to its origins on campus in the 1970s.
For summer break, both Hamilton and Scott returned to their home bases in Massachusetts far from the WSPN control boards.
But that only means—until next semester—more airtime for other DJs, whether they are students who have remained on campus or community members.
If no DJ is available for actual programs, 91.1 can broadcast digital loops that are carefully “curated” by Adam Simon and other student music directors. They also manage the 100-slot “Hot Box” of fresh compact discs sent regularly to the station.
At a chilly Earth Day festival on campus, Simon was among several at the station who organized WSPN’s first live outdoor broadcast, featuring various artists and bands. He said plans are in the works to renovate the main studio and create a new live recording space there as well.
Simon, who had a show called “It’s Cozy Inside” and is preparing for his own trip abroad to India, admitted that Skidmore students are prone to creating a “bubble” around their Saratoga Springs campus.
But he also knows from experience how WSPN “breaches that bubble.”
Simon pointed to the community DJs who act as a vital “bridge” for WSPN listeners. In general, he said, they should “feel respected and at home here.”
“Skidmore College students have been good to me,” confessed Smith of the Sunday Reggae show, which at 27 years old is the second-longest running show on WSPN behind “Polka Magic.”
Students “really got their act together,” Smith added.
With Jamaican relatives in the area, Smith relocated to the Capital Region in the early 1970s. “I loved Jamaican music from day one,” he said. “I’m full-time dedicated to this show. Reggae music is big all over the world.”
Klein, Simon and the others indicated that WSPN’s longevity is further assured by the efforts of Robin Adams, a 2000 Skidmore graduate who now provides key support to student clubs as a college administrator.
Adams “understands the importance of radio,” offered Clara-Sophia Daly, a California native who recently completed her first year of studies at Skidmore. She started a show called “Opposition Radio” and is eager to promote the station’s merchandise.
“WSPN is the best,” Daly said. “It’s been such an important part of my life.”
MILTON — After about a month of labor, town Highway Department workers have completed a large float that will be featured in the Village of Ballston Spa’s Memorial Day parade.
“It’s really fantastic,” said Milton Town Historian Kim McCartney, noting how the float pays homage to the town’s “long history of mills” situated near the Kayaderosseras, Gordon and Glowegee creeks.
Ballston Spa’s Memorial Day Parade on Saturday, May 27, is set to begin at 9 a.m. in the parking lot of Ocean State Job Lot on Route 50. It will proceed to Wiswall Park on Front Street in the village.
The float from Milton includes a giant saw blade in the middle and a miniature water wheel on the end. A sign on the back indicates that Weaver’s Saw Mill on Geyser Road supplied the lumber used in its construction.
“We’re proud of our history as a mill town and our float represents that pride,” McCartney said.
Milton Highway Superintendent David Forbes said the current float is smaller than a previous version constructed several years ago. In their spare time, he added, several town highway workers chipped in to build it.
“I really like helping with those types of projects,” Forbes explained.
There are 14 workers under Forbes in Milton’s highway department; in wintry weather, they were routinely thanked by town officials for so promptly clearing roads.
At the May 3 meeting of the Milton Town Board, Supervisor Dan Lewza also praised McCartney for her research into the life of a town native, Henry Cornell, who died overseas in World War I. The board then passed a proclamation in his honor.
“I think Kim should be greatly recognized for the work she does for the town," Lewza said of McCartney.
The American Legion post in Ballston Spa, a primary organizer of the May 27 parade, is named after Cornell. The village’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post is equally involved in parade planning.
[Front photo shows Downtown Business Association President Maddy Zanetti in her office at Impressions of Saratoga. Photo by Larry Goodwin.]
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The New York Racing Association (NYRA) is expanding its promotion of Saratoga Race Course season passes, aiming to provide an additional economic boost to city businesses.
“At our store, we get the racing fans,” admits Downtown Business Association (DBA) President Maddy Zanetti, a co-owner of Impressions of Saratoga on Broadway. The store offers all sorts of decorative household furnishings and clothes that feature horses.
Zanetti said some of her store’s customers would “definitely” take advantage of an opportunity to purchase NYRA’s grandstand or clubhouse season passes, which have been offered for several years through local Stewart’s Shops.
Levi Pascher, a spokesman for the Albany firm Ed Lewi Associates, which handles public relations for NYRA, said the goal of recruiting the city’s DBA members is “to bring value and drive business to downtown Saratoga.”
Pascher indicated that season pass holders qualify for 10 percent discounts at participating local businesses, including concert and sports venues. The same discounts apply at NYRA concession stands. Several restrictions do apply, however.
Aside from Impressions, Zanetti said about 40 of the roughly 240 DBA members are participating in the expanded program. She mentioned such businesses as Lifestyles of Saratoga, G.Willikers Toys, Wheatfields and Druthers Brewing Company, explaining that a large group of service providers in the DBA (doctors, real estate firms, etc.) are unable to participate.
Zanetti said customers can purchase vouchers at individual stores but must complete the transaction online through NYRA’s website (www.nyra.com/saratoga.)
At a cost of $65 for the clubhouse and $40 for grandstand seats, NYRA season passes are then mailed to recipients. The passes do not include reserved seating and are valid for one admission, according to Pascher.
Lynn LaRocca, NYRA’s vice president and chief experience officer, said the track’s “most loyal fans...realize there’s inherent value” in buying season passes. She said they pay off after about seven trips to the racecourse, which is scheduled to open on Friday, July 21.
Though obviously related in direct ways, LaRocca said the season passes are considered separate from NYRA’s Season Perks program, which runs every year from June 1 through March 31 and yields the stated discounts for customers.
Maria D’Amelia, a spokeswoman for Stewart’s Shops, said the NYRA season pass promotion has been “a great partnership” during the several years it has been offered through nearly 160 of the company’s stores.
A number of Stewart’s customers have expressed support for the “convenience factor,” D’Amelia said. Company officials evaluate the results of the promotion for each season at the track, she added.
NYRA’s Season Perks program was already quite popular, according to D’Amelia. So the season pass promotion, she said, “certainly adds to that value.”
MILTON — Plans to build 91 apartment units off Hutchins Road went under a microscope Wednesday night in a crowded second floor room at the town complex.
Saratoga Springs Attorney Michael Toohey, representing Tom Samascott and Malta Development, was welcomed by the five-member Milton Town Board to give a presentation describing those construction plans.
Malta Development is proposing to raze an existing home at the intersection of Hutchins Road and Greybirch Trail, in order to clear 14 acres of woods behind the home for new roads and several apartment buildings with multiple units.
Milton Supervisor Dan Lewza and the board members—before dodging a minor disruption from the audience—then voted to set a formal public hearing for the project on July 5.
Toohey explained that a trend exists in real estate to build “alternative housing” for people over 55 who favor the idea of “aging in place.” Malta Development aims to serve that market need with its Hutchins Road project, he said.
“We need to size down the houses we live in,” Toohey said at one point. “This concept is not strange to the town.”
Toohey showed design slides depicting modern units with one level, saying that “everything can be maintained on the first floor to make life easier” for aging residents.
He predicted that it would have the “same impact” in terms of a traffic increase as the construction of 20 to 25 single-family homes.
Lewza asked Toohey why Malta Development is proposing 91 apartments instead of single-family houses, dozens of which were built decades ago around much of the land in question.
“We see the demand for it,” Samascott answered from his front row seat.
Samascott’s firm developed and manages the 586-unit Winner’s Circle apartment complex on Geyser Road. There are also plans to add 120 more units at Winner’s Circle in the future, he said.
Samascott admits that his own mother has been a longtime resident of Coachman Drive. Her house sits within a few hundred yards of the Hutchins Road project site.
Lewza, noting how he was not required to do so, politely invited Hutchins Road resident Dorothy Christiansen to respond after Toohey’s presentation was done. The supervisor said she could “represent everybody” in attendance with concerns about the project.
This past winter, many local homeowners—led by Christiansen—submitted petitions to the town board opposing Malta Development’s plans, which are months away from receiving a final approval.
Christiansen, through social media, had encouraged her neighbors to attend the May 17 meeting, and many obliged. Practically every chair in the room was being used.
One resident was moved enough by Toohey’s presentation to exclaim “55 is not senior,” before Christiansen herself pointed to the potential traffic impacts of the project.
She said Hutchins Road already “has been turned into a track run” by drivers who use the street as a cut through between Rowland Street and Route 50, often “peeling out” at local intersections with stop signs.
The Hutchins Road project would only increase the dangers on local streets where lots of kids are on bikes and individuals regularly walk with their pets, she said last winter.
Christiansen disputed the market need for senior housing. She also implored the town board to enforce current zoning rules for the land, which she said do not allow a project of that size. Only single-family homes should be approved to keep the character of the neighborhood, she said.
Lewza advised Samascott and Toohey to leave the room as a means to continue the board meeting without additional comments from the public directed at them.
Still, one Hutchins Road homeowner kept interrupting Lewza as the board chairman tried to complete the remaining agenda items. He had demanded to know why the public hearing date was changed from June 7 to July 5, and Lewza threatened to call the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office to have the man forcibly removed.
The homeowner later apologized to the full board for his remarks.
Lewza said scheduling conflicts had necessitated the change, and offered to keep the public hearing “open” after July 5.
One local mother concluded the brief public comment period by saying she has a disabled child at home, and that she’s as concerned about increased traffic on Hutchins Road as Christiansen and other residents.
“I’m just looking for the safety of my children,” she said.
MALTA — Officials said this week they are preparing a local law that would prohibit town residents from renting or setting up bounce houses and similar inflatable devices for events held on town property.
David Meager, representing the Adirondack Trust Insurance Agency, gave a presentation at the May 15 town board meeting that focused on a bulletin released in March by the group New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR).
Meager told the board that, at present, the town has “absolutely no control” when private citizens are allowed to rent or set up inflatable devices for functions held on town property. He spoke in favor of a new law that would prohibit such actions.
Malta Councilman John Hartzell acted on behalf of Supervisor Vincent DeLucia, who was absent at the meeting.
Hartzell instructed Town Attorney Thomas Peterson to draft the new law.
“The trend has been upward in terms of deaths and injuries,” Meager said of bounce houses and other inflatable devices, which in recent years have continued gaining in popularity among local families.
In 2014, media reports indicated that two young boys sustained serious injuries in South Glens Falls after strong wind gusts caused a bounce house to go airborne.
According to the March 17 NYMIR bulletin, in the year before the South Glens Falls incident, there were more than 47,000 injuries reported nationwide related to inflatable devices (more recent figures were not provided).
Audrey Ball, Malta’s director of Parks, Recreation and Human Services, said any law passed by the board would not affect the town’s rental of a bounce house at the annual Malta Community Day event, which is scheduled for September 9.
Yet Ball echoed Meager’s comments to the board. The David Meager Malta Community Center is named after the former town supervisor.
“I also feel it’s an awful high risk for the town,” Ball said.
Ball told the town board that her office rarely receives requests for permission to set up inflatable devices.
Still, in a May 4 letter to the board, using common legal terms, she made it clear that “public use of inflatables during private parties held at town parks” remains a serious concern.
“Although a business provides a certificate of insurance naming the town ‘additional insured’ and signs a ‘hold harmless,’ there is concern that the town could be found negligent if there was an injury to a child because town staff was not available to verify that proper policies and procedures are followed,” Ball wrote.
“The town’s insurance advisor recommended that the town not permit bounce houses as they are not covered by the town’s insurance policy,” she added.
Ball also noted how the declining costs of inflatable devices have made them more affordable for many families. Inflatables can be purchased outright for $200, or rented for four hours at a cost of about $150, she said.
“At the end of the day, it’s children who are really at risk,” offered Kevin Crawford, executive director of NYMIR.
Crawford said NYMIR—which represents nearly 900 political entities across New York, including water and sewer districts—is encouraging municipal governments to pass laws similar to the one being considered in Malta.
When hiring any inflatable companies, according to Crawford, members of the public should prioritize at least three key factors: both predicted and actual wind speeds; how the devices are secured to the ground; and adult supervision the whole time kids are playing in them.
Inflatables are “very safe if they’re installed properly,” explained Thomas Barber, owner of the Clifton Park-based company Bounce Around. He said the company offers more than 100 different types of inflatables, and that he has repeatedly supplied those used at the Malta Community Day event.
Barber said industry standards call for ground stakes that are 18 inches long, but that Bounce Around secures larger inflatable devices with stakes measuring up to 48 inches.
The inflatable involved in the 2014 South Glens Falls accident weighed only 25 pounds, Barber said, while a comparable Bounce Around jump house weighs 150 pounds.
“If you hire a reputable company,” Barber added, “you’ll never have a problem.”
[Gallery photo shows Julia Sanzen on the first floor of 35 Maple Avenue. Photo by Larry Goodwin. Front page photo shows the Broadway location of the original Farmers Hardware as shown in the book “George S. Bolster's Saratoga Springs.” Photo provided. ]
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Julia Sanzen says she enjoys cooking for people as much she loves to find a hip place for brunch.
This June, she will combine both of those experiences with a deep appreciation for Saratoga’s past by opening her new Farmers Hardware brunch hall at 35 Maple Avenue in the city’s historic district.
As the main chef, Sanzen will serve customers between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the same building once utilized as a warehouse by the city’s Farmer family, who opened a popular hardware store on Broadway nearly a century ago.
“We respect the history of this town,” Sanzen said during a recent tour of the 2,400-square-foot space. She is a local native who attended college in the nation’s capital and lived for about a decade in the Big Apple.
Sanzen says she is eager to finish interior renovations and open her “fast-casual” dining spot, at which brunch customers will proceed to the second floor to place their orders. Most will then sit on heavy, rectangular blocks of oak at large “communal tables” on the first floor, she explained.
The wooden blocks were obtained from a U.S. Navy shipyard in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Sanzen said the brick patio outside the building also will have dining tables. The third floor will be available mainly for small private events such as bridal or baby showers.
Previously, Sanzen had settled on starting her own catering business called Paddock to Porch, but all that changed when she found the right partner in Tyler Russell.
Russell is one of three proprietors—along with his father and brother—at a Lake George wood-reclaiming company called Storied Boards, which is supplying most of the renovation materials inside 35 Maple Avenue.
When reached for comment, Russell said the business plan at Farmers Hardware is all about “providing great food for a reasonable price.”
“Whether a big bite while looking over the Daily Racing Form before a day at the track, or a quick workday lunch meeting with your fellow coworkers, Farmers Hardware aims to provide awesome food and extraordinary drinks in a super cool environment,” Sanzen elaborates in a statement on her website (www.farmershardwaresaratoga.com).
“Our brunch hall concept is modeled after the great open and airy American food halls like Boston’s Quincy Market or Union Market in Washington, D.C.,” she says. Sanzen adds that she will serve “classics with a twist, like her signature Eggs Shorty (Bordeaux braised short ribs Benedict, with poached egg and browned butter hollandaise).”
Together, Sanzen and Russell honed the new Farmers Hardware plan over the last year.
Russell said they first had met as students at Albany Academy in the early 2000s and re-connected late in 2015, since Sanzen spent the intervening years in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
According to Russell, it seemed doubtful that they would be able to compete against the area’s dominant catering companies like Mazzone Hospitality, which he said “is out of this world and just about everything they touch turns to gold.”
“We did a thorough analysis of the restaurant scene” in Saratoga Springs, Sanzen says, noting how she and Russell identified a “huge gap” in local eateries offering brunch.
Brunch “is the thing to do in New York City” and is “so greatly needed in this town,” she added.
In March, Sanzen and Thomas Gardner of Saratoga Historic Properties—owner of the Maple Avenue property who will lease it to Sanzen and Russell—signed the necessary documents prepared by the city’s Design Review Commission.
The commission reports that the building was originally put up in 1925, and that it will remain “virtually untouched” during the Farmers Hardware renovation.
Due to the excessive costs of installing a normal kitchen inside, Sanzen said, she decided instead to purchase a Canadian-made shipping container for $70,000 that will be situated outside the building.
Existing landscape plants and an 8-foot painted screen will obscure any view of the outdoor unit, according to the commission.
The Design Review Commission called the 20-by-8-foot container a “professional, high-volume kitchen manufactured by Venture Foods built to all applicable building and health codes.” *
Gardner called the Farmers Hardware business plan “innovative for Saratoga,” and he appreciates the “very rustic” appeal of the interior materials supplied by Storied Boards.
Sanzen’s fast-casual brunch spot is “a new concept,” Gardner said, that “brings Saratoga into the avant-garde of dining.”
* [Author's note: According to company spokeswoman Niki Hodgskiss, the correct name is Venture Food Trucks. Its website is www.venturefoodtrucks.com.]
WILTON — Town officials are closely monitoring increases in online sales for potential impacts on Wilton retailers.
Wilton Supervisor Arthur Johnson and Comptroller Jeffrey Reale said this week that they have noticed a drop in town revenues generated by sales taxes in local businesses.
“Internet sales are going to go up and local retailers are going to strug- gle,” predicted Supervisor Johnson.
According to Reale, Saratoga County collects and distributes all revenue from the 7 percent sales tax in local stores. The county then uses a formula that allocates 1.5 percent to both the town and county and 4 percent to New York state, he said.
In a recent audit of the town’s 2016 finances conducted by the Latham firm Cusack and Company, Wilton reportedly earned more than $5.8 million from retail sales taxes.
It was the largest source of revenue last year for the town, which does not levy a property tax on residents. The next largest source is $900,000 from the state.
Annual sales tax revenue in Wilton has increased steadily from $4 million in 2007, Reale indicated.
Johnson said roughly 30 percent of that sales tax revenue is derived from Wilton Mall businesses alone.
In addition, Johnson explained that he makes it a priority for the Town of Wilton to never spend more than it earns. The town’s total yearly budget exceeds $8.2 million.
The sales tax figures are monitored every month, Reale said, and the first several months of 2017 showed signs of a noticeable decrease.
“If that’s the trend, we’re seeing it,” Reale offered. “That could prove to be very detrimental to many municipalities.”
Both town leaders pointed to related developments during passage of the state budget.
Early last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had proposed imposing a new tax on Internet sales, but Senate Republicans apparently rejected that idea.
“State Senate Republicans caved to the clichéd histrionics and whining of out-of-state dot-coms worth billions of dollars and ignored the real concerns of brick-and-mortar stores struggling in their own districts,” argued Ted Potrikus, president of the Retail Council of New York state, in a statement dated April 9.
“So the next time they call us to ask why this-or-that store closed in their district or why they can’t attract stores to their dwindling downtowns,” Potrikus added, “we’ll remind them of their vote today.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS — As the date of May 18 gets closer, halfway through Stroke Awareness Month, Tammy D’ercole is trying to figure out where she’ll first make an appearance in her college graduation robe.
It will most likely be the office of Dr. Seth Wharton, the neurologist on Wells Street who had encouraged D’ercole to obtain a degree after they met several years ago.
The doctor tried, with minimal success, to help D’ercole regain the use of her left arm that was lost in 2006 after she endured a stroke in Pennsylvania. It happened during surgery to remove a benign tumor near her heart.
Still, D’ercole admits, she added Dr. Wharton’s idea to her “bucket list.” Next week, D’ercole will happily cross that degree off her list during a graduation ceremony at Schenectady County Community College, where she has kept herself busy since last year studying the field of human services.
D’ercole had transferred credits from previous college work, and mostly commuted to and from Schenectady by bus. And she plans to pursue further academic studies as well.
D’ercole’s other celebratory destination next Thursday will be the grand opening on High Rock Avenue of the Healing Springs Recovery and Community Outreach Center, which will cater to individuals struggling to conquer alcohol and drug addiction.
She praised the work of Janine Stuchin, executive director of The Prevention Council in the same building, who D’ercole said has been instrumental in supporting the creation of the Healing Springs center.
In March 2015, D’ercole was the subject of an article published by Saratoga TODAY titled, “A Survivor’s Tale,” which expounded at length about how her recovery from the stroke was complicated by her battle with alcoholism. She quit drinking in 2008.
“My stroke was my launch-board into my destiny to live a purposeful life inspiring, teaching others,” the 50-year-old city resident said this week. “It’s a big, big, big thing for me to get awareness out.”
Through her academic research, D’ercole said she found a strong correlation between addiction problems and stroke. She is also concerned that “the average age of stroke victims is plummeting.”
Kara Granato, a spokeswoman for the Brain Injury Association of New York State, could not confirm if medical professionals have made that same conclusion.
Yet Granato left open the possibility that such topics could be discussed at the association’s professional symposium and annual conference, which are scheduled to take place between June 14 and 16 at the Saratoga Springs Holiday Inn.
The symposium is geared more toward medical professionals, Granato said. The scheduled presentations are titled: Brain Injury, Substance Abuse and PTSD; Physiology of Brain Injury; Equine Assisted Therapy and Brain Injury; Headaches after Brain Injury; Treatment Options; Exercise and Brain Injury; Sleep Disorders After TBI (traumatic brain injury); and Physical Therapy Treatment Interventions Using New Technologies.
The annual conference, Granato added, is more open to stroke survivors like D’ercole and family members, who are required to register with the Brain Injury Association ahead of the event.
For more information or to register, visit the website www.bianys.org.
BALLSTON SPA — Homeowners near the abandoned Rickett’s dry-cleaning business on Route 50 can rest a little easier knowing that federal test results showed no serious contamination of their properties.
Closer to Village Hall, according to officials, a second industrial site on Bath Street that has been vacant for years is now wrapped up in a bankruptcy court proceeding.
At the May 8 Village Board meeting, Ballston Spa Mayor John Romano reported that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released results of “vapor intrusion” tests that were initiated in February at 50 homes near the Rickett’s building on Doubleday Avenue.
Officials at the EPA were studying whether various chemicals that reportedly leached into local ground water from the Rickett’s property were also venting through cracks in the foundations of homes.
“Based on EPA’s assessment... no corrective actions for vapor intrusion are required at any of the properties sampled,” reads a statement provided this week by EPA spokeswoman Larisa Romanowski.
“The concentrations of chemicals detected at the sample properties,” the statement continues, “were significantly below EPA’s established target levels which were developed to be protective of human health.”
The EPA further stated that the agency “does not see a need for any restrictions to be placed on the normal use of any of the properties sampled; does not plan on expanding the vapor intrusion investigation area at the present time; but does not rule out the possibility that additional vapor intrusion sampling may be conducted in the future.”
Mayor Romano explained that a $2,500 expenditure approved on May 8 by the village board would cover engineering costs for additional “PFOA” testing that took place at the Rickett’s site, as well as the cost of a water-quality report that will be mailed to village residents soon.
In other business, Trustee Noah Shaw indicated that he is following the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case involving a large property down the hill from Village Hall. The six-acre site, used for a number of years by the hospital linen company Angelica, spans several village blocks.
Romano said his own efforts to achieve progress on both the Rickett’s and Angelica properties, including letters to New York’s federal lawmakers, are “moving forward.”
Linda Shaw, an environmental attorney in Rochester who represented Angelica until last year, suggested that officials in Ballston Spa should pursue full ownership.
She said Angelica, as the property owner, had successfully remediated previous chemical and petroleum contamination at the site. The pollution was mostly the result of tannery operations that had occurred decades ago.
When reached this week for comment, Shaw said, “the property is really not that terrible.”
Shaw added that village officials “should think about taking title to it through the bankruptcy.”
MALTA — On Monday night, homeowners from a busy stretch of Route 67 in Malta persuaded town officials to postpone a vote that would promote more commercial development in the area.
“My mind was made up until you folks came out,” stated Councilwoman Maggi Ruisi. “I listened, and I heard you.”
The Malta Town Board scheduled the May 1 public hearing for its Route 67 South Side Rezoning Amendment. Its passage by the board would affect the future of undeveloped property between the Exit 12 traffic circles and Brownell Road.
New construction is already underway a short distance farther west near the intersection of Route 67 and Eastline Road.
For an hour there was a lively discussion among Malta homeowners, who filled the town complex parking lot to capacity, and board members led by Supervisor Vincent DeLucia.
DeLucia ended up accepting a motion to table the related resolution. It would rezone several parcels of Route 67 land on either side of Ruhle Road into a new commercial (or “C2”) district.
“I’ve seen dramatic changes in the town of Malta in my 70 years of living here. I recall almost every bit of growth,” DeLucia reported after the public hearing and unanimous vote to table the measure.
There were rezoning supporters in the room, but a majority of homeowners vented their frustrations about more traffic along that heavily traveled stretch of Route 67.
“I think you’re going to have a real fight on your hands with people in this neighborhood,” predicted Route 67 resident Mark Sickler.
“The value of our property is going to go down if it becomes C2” commercial zoning, added Andrew James, a homeowner from Settlers Ridge North.
“Malta as a whole is being overdeveloped. It’s lost what Malta was in terms of being a community,” James said. “That has us upset.”
Betsy Marré, a resident of Settlers Ridge South, said more drivers should be ticketed by law enforcement for “doing 90” in the 45 mph zone on that part of Route 67; and that the state Department of Transportation (DOT) should upgrade the entire section of roadway before any new construction plans are approved.
That should include turn lanes specifically designed by the DOT to accommodate Ruhle Road traffic, Marré told the board.
When approached after making her statements at the podium, Marré asserted that “town board members are making decisions without proper due diligence” and are “not understanding commercial property vacancy” rates.
Her husband Ernie Marré questioned how the rezoning amendment came to be voted on in the first place. He also argued that local property values, and Malta’s quiet rural appeal, could be “adversely impacted” by more commercial development on Route 67.
The Marrés and several other speakers referred to the difficulties faced every day by local drivers who turn left to enter Ruhle Road, or try to exit in either direction.
“Are we going to get some consideration?” Ernie Marré asked board members. “It sounds like it’s almost a done deal.”
“We’ve considered all of these things. We’re not operating in a vacuum,” DeLucia responded.
Ultimately, Councilman John Hartzell made the motion to table the rezoning resolution, explaining that the current town board is simply making “mid-course corrections” to a master plan passed 17 years ago by a previous board.
“When we all came to town government this course had been charted,” Hartzell said.
Both Ruisi and Hartzell stated that they hailed from rural communities, and that land preservation in general is an important topic to them.
Councilman Craig Warner went even further, saying his own family members had opposed excessive development much like the Malta homeowners do now.
“We take what you say very seriously,” Warner told those in attendance. “I understand what you said and it will be considered.”