City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
BALLSTON SPA – Four minors were charged in connection with a Tuesday morning incident at the Ballston Spa Central School District which resulted in the middle school and the high school going into lock-down mode.
The most serious allegation – making a terroristic threat, a felony – was charged to a 14-year-old boy suspected of posting a threatening message on-line via Instagram. Three other boys – a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old from the town of Milton, and a 15-year-old from the village of Ballston Spa were each charged with the juvenile offense of unlawful possession of weapons by persons under the age of 16.
Tuesday morning, Ballston Spa Central School District administrators contacted Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office school outreach officers with information that there had been an on-line threat made by a student about a shooting at the school.
While investigating the allegation, authorities discovered that another student had brought a weapon into school that morning. School administrators located the weapon and turned it over to Sheriff’s Office Investigators. An investigation by Sheriff’s Office personnel revealed that the weapon was a blank pistol that looked identical to a real firing pistol.
All the juveniles were referred to the Saratoga County Probation Department.
Last Friday, a 16-year-old Saratoga Springs High School student was charged with making a terroristic threat after allegedly posting a story on Snapchat about "shooting up the school.”
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.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Super Bowl champions and World Series victors, Triple Crown winners and local kids got together at Saratoga Casino Hotel on a sun-filled Saturday afternoon to play some ball and raise some money to help keep sick children together with their families and near the care and resources they need.
“Hey Ozzie. Move around a little bit out there,” first base coach Craig Nettles – a six-time Major League Baseball All-Star – advised Ozzie Smith, a 15-time All-Star himself. Smith’s knack for impressive defensive plays earned him the nickname “The Wizard” and a reputation as one of the best shortstops to ever play the game.
Following Nettles’ instruction, Smith and Mickey “Mick the Quick” Rivers stepped up their warm-up drills, which consisted of fielding practice grounders and subsequently launching them at first baseman Lawrence Taylor.
“I wouldn’t sit there if I were you,” Nettles compassionately warned journalists who had settled down into the shadow cast by the New York Football Giant legend known as “L.T.” Taylor’s method: waving his first-baseman’s mitt at the incoming missiles with his left hand while negotiating a stogie between his right hand and his mouth.
Sensing they’d perhaps taken his call to movement a bit too seriously, Nettles finally bellowed, “You guys are going to wear each other out.” Maybe he was right.
Wade Boggs led off the lineup for the “blue” team and promptly sent a spiraling home run over the fences. It didn’t end there.
A five-run “mercy rule” was instituted in the first inning. Another was instituted in inning two. The last anyone time anyone was keeping an accurate count in the brief softball game, the score was somewhere in the 10-3 neighborhood with the victor declared Team Otis – named after the game’s play-by-play announcer and two-time Giant’s Super Bowl champion Otis Anderson. But by that point, who was counting anyway? The day’s full slate of attendees – which also included ballplayers “Goose” Gossage and Dwight Gooden, horse racing world legends Angel Cordero, Ron Turcotte, and others – all had a good time.
The on-field event concluded with Major League slugger Jose Canseco participating in a home run derby, with every home run hit by Canseco earning a $100 donation by Saratoga Casino Hotel to The Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region.
Following the well-attended celebrity softball game, athletes met with fans for autographs and photo opportunities, and local bands The Refrigerators and Skeeter Creek performed on an outdoor stage.
Overall, more than $10,000 was raised during the day and the irony was not lost on Skip Carlson, vice president of external affairs at Saratoga Casino Hotel. Carlson’s time at the venue pre-dates the installation of Video Lottery Terminals and goes back to the days when it was known as the Saratoga Equine Sports Center.
“I’ve been here for 40 years and it’s funny to think that when we had a celebrity harness race here, maybe in 1980, George Steinbrenner had won that race. So today, with all those Yankees playing, it’s kind of come full circle,” Carlson said.
“The Ronald McDonald House is a home away from home for families who have kids in the hospital,” explained Jeffrey Yule, executive director for Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region. We take care of those families’ needs - their housing, their food, whatever they need, free of charge.” Yule said costs are about $80 per night night to put up one family and that there are 25 families staying at a time.
“McDonald’s is a good partner for us. They account for about 25 percent of our funds and the rest comes from the public. This is an incredible gift to be donated, this much money, and it’s through events like these that we’re able to keep our doors open and our hearts open for these families.”
Jose Canseco swinging for the fences -
To maintain and promote the “City in the Country” form that includes an intensively developed urban core, an economically vibrant central business district, and residential neighborhoods with well-defined urban edges and an outlying area of rural character. - Saratoga Springs Comprehensive Plan, adopted by the City Council June 16, 2015.
Ever since Gideon Putnam began his early 19th century build-up in what would later become the downtown core, there has been an ebb and flow to the architectural terrain of Saratoga Springs.
Putnam’s original boarding house would give way to Union Hall and the Grand Union Hotel, and soon be joined in close geographic proximity by the massive structures of Congress Hall and the United States Hotel. The arrival of the steam locomotive in the 1830s made it easier for visitors to come to the then-village, and the first public street lighting with gas went up in 1853. By century’s end, Broadway boasted the Collamer and Ainsworth buildings, Town Hall, Convention Hall, and the Adelphi and Van Dam hotels; John Morrissey operated a clubhouse in Congress Park, and the racecourse dominated the summer season on the east side of town.
“In the older pictures, when you look down Broadway you can see it was built-up on both sides,” says Saratoga Springs City Historian Mary Ann Fitzgerald. “We lost some to fires and some to Urban Renewal. These buildings come and go through years.” The wrecking ball also played a deconstructive role. However, even as the effects of Urban Renewal were being realized in the mid-1960s, the new Northway afforded motorists an easier passage to Saratoga Springs, just as the Saratoga Performing Arts Center was opening its doors.
Placing recent development in historical context, Fitzgerald says things today are not much different than what they were a century ago. “To me (the current build) is reminiscent of what once was,” she says, “filling in gaps and bringing things back closer to the scale of what we once had.”
Some current projects, both proposed and those in development, are listed below. The landscape is varied and includes hotels and condominiums, rental and purchase properties, retail storefronts to business offices. Some are targeted to address the “affordable” or “workforce” housing market.
South Broadway/ Saratoga Diner site. Located on the west side of Broadway.
Proposed: Demolition of the long-standing Saratoga Diner on South Broadway and construction of approximately 110 single and two-bedroom “affordable” apartment units, two floors of commercial space, and a new business incubator collaboratively partnered by Saratoga Economic Development Corporation and Saratoga CoWorks.
The project at the southern gateway to the city would include 46 one-bedroom units and 64 two-bedroom units, 7,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, 4,000 square feet of service establishment space and a 7,500 square-foot food beverage or brew pub, which will act as a visible anchor on South Broadway. Streetscape improvements include street lamps, landscaping, and a total of 273 parking spaces for resident and commercial parking uses. The second floor will house 17,000 square feet of commercial space where two new tenants are expected to join SEDC’s 10,000 square foot “incubator,” a flexible co-working space to be inhabited by a rotating group of entrepreneurs and early-stage growth business teams.
The majority of the rental units would be offered to those earning between 60 and 100 percent of the AMI - a $50,400 to $84,000 range - while 14 units would be offered at a “fair-market rent” to military veterans. Construction is anticipated to begin next spring and the buildings fully operational by the summer of 2019.
146 South Broadway. Located on east side of Broadway.
Proposed: Demolition of a single-story traditional fast food space and construction of a two-story mixed-use building. Restaurant and professional office space on the ground floor, four apartment units on the second floor.
Adelphi Hotel, Broadway.
The Adelphi Hotel, first opened in 1877, is anticipated to reopen this month. Features 32 rooms, a ballroom, and three restaurants: Salt & Char (already open), Morrissey’s, and the Blue Hen.
Adelphi Hotel – New Hotel, 19-23 Washington St.
Proposed: A new six-story Hotel and Spa that will physically connect to, although be operated independently of, the Adelphi Hotel. Features: spa with an indoor swimming pool on the first floor, and 50 rooms on floors two through six.
Rip Van Dam – New Hotel, 351 Broadway/ 7 Washington St.
Proposed: A new six-story Boutique Hotel. Features: swimming pool and restaurant on the top floor and 152 rooms in all, located behind the four-story Van Dam hotel and the Starbucks café on Broadway. Additional plans for a parking garage on Hamilton Street that will serve hotel guests and workers, as well as 40 spaces designated for Palio employees. Public parking may also be offered “as capacity allows,” according to documents submitted to the city.
“These are two large projects essentially adjacent to each other and I think people should be aware of that changing streetscape on Washington Street,” said Samantha Bosshart, executive director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation.
Universal Preservation Hall, Washington Street.
Historic building on Washington Street constructed in 1871 will undergo renovation and re-open in early 2019 as an acoustically perfect theater-in-the-round experience with a capacity of 700-plus people. The upgraded venue will feature new heating and air conditioning systems, a kitchen, an elevator and new light and sound fixtures with acoustic treatments. New entry doors will be set on the building’s Broadway facing-side to provide theater-goers close proximity to a multi-level public parking garage on Woodlawn Avenue. Once completed, it is anticipated UPH will stage approximately 200 events annually.
Stonequist Apartments – New building, South Federal Street/ West Circular Street.
Proposed: A mixed-income, mixed-use development project to be sited behind the Stonequist Apartments to feature as many as 80 affordable housing units - projected at 40 to 100 percent of AMI. An additional 30 units proposed at the former site of the William H. Ford Community Center, at Jefferson Terrace, on the east side of Broadway. Both are under the ownership of the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority.
Code Blue Emergency Homeless Shelter – New building, 14 Walworth St.
Proposed: 6,400 square foot emergency homeless shelter to be sited on Walworth Street, adjacent to the Shelters of Saratoga.
West Side Development – New buildings, adjacent to Saratoga Springs train station.
Proposed: Two developers have submitted plans featuring up to 10 new buildings comprised of a five-story hotel, more than 400 residential units and nearly 30,000 square feet of retail space. Projects to be developed on a stretch of vacant land from the south end of the Saratoga Springs train station to Washington Street/ Route 29, just west of West Avenue.
Station Park project: built out over five phases, calls for two buildings dedicated as a mixed-use space with each building housing 36 residential units, and a total of 22,000 square feet of retail space. The 72 residential units would be for-sale condominiums. Additional development to include two buildings - each providing 57 units for senior housing and 33 units for senior assisted care, a 110-to-120 unit five-story hotel and spa, a pool and fitness center, and a free-standing building with an additional 6,200 square feet of retail space. Nearly 600 parking spaces would span across the location to cater to residents, retail workers and shoppers.
Vecino Group project: development of one three-story building and three four-story buildings to stand just east of the Station Park proposal and near the Washington Street post office. Featuring 160 apartment units presumably in the “workforce,” or “affordable” housing categories.
According to city officials, two additional firms are also currently readying proposals for further development in the immediate vicinity of the Station Park project, although the size and scope of those two potential projects are not currently known.
Union Avenue Condominiums, 46 Union Ave., south side of the avenue.
Planned for occupancy by March 2018: A five-building residential property with on-site parking featuring one, two and three-bedroom residences priced from $689,900 to $895,500. Occupies the site of the former Skidmore College dormitory officially called Moore Hall, and commonly referred to as the “pink palace.”
East Side Fire/ EMS station.
Status: Remains on the city’s radar,but no definitive plans at this time.
Condominium Project, 120 Henry St.
Proposal: Development of a five-story condominium building to house 30 units with 70 total bedrooms to be located at 120 Henry St., on subdivided land adjacent to the Four Seasons market.
24 Caroline Street/ 68 Putnam Street.
Proposal: New mixed-use addition and alteration to consist of six apartment units and two commercial spaces, located at site where damage and demolition occurred in the aftermath of a November 2016 fire.
City Center Parking Garage, High Rock.
Proposal: City Center Authority leasing of city-owned land to build a 480-space parking garage adjacent to High Rock Park, behind the City Center.
Status: Project remains in litigation.
Developments, both proposed and amended, are regularly addressed at City Hall meetings by the city’s Land Use Boards – the Planning Board, the Zoning Boards of Appeal, and the Design Review Commission – as well as at City Council meetings. Those meetings, and agendas regarding what each will be discussing, are available on the city’s web site at: http://www.saratoga-springs.org/. You can also subscribe to the individual boards and have the information show up in your mailbox in advance of the meetings.
Don Armstrong & Tom Mitchell, 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 at Caffe Lena, on Phila Street.
With 50 years of song-making behind him, and 6 & 12-string guitars and 5-string banjo in hand, Don sings songs of the Southwest and Old Mexico, tunes from the '20's & '30's and his beautiful original songs that have been hailed worldwide. His song "White Mountains Good Bye" was recorded by Bill Staines, while "Santuario" has been recorded by Woods Tea Company, and "Day After The Day Of The Dead" was covered by cowboy singer Jim Jones. Joining Don will be longtime friend and one-time musical partner Tom Mitchell. Don & Tom delighted audiences across the country, playing all the major folk clubs and being touted for their exciting vocal blend, top notch songwriting and marvelous sense of humor.
General admission $18, café members $16, students & kids $9.
Super Dark Collective Presents: Mike Gent of The Figgs with John Powhida, 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 22-23 at One Caroline. One Caroline Street.
Mike Gent is a founding member of the legendary Figgs who have been making music since 1987. Gent has also played with other legends such as Graham Parker, Tommy Stinson (The Replacements), and has shared the stage with bands such as Weezer, U2, The Cranberries and many more. Also: John Powhida, who longtime Albany club goers will recall as the leader of the Staziacks. He relocated to Boston in 2000, and most recently has received positive ink for his performances with John Powhida International Airport.
Admission: Free. Seating limited.
Blind Boy Paxton, 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 24 at Caffe Lena, Phila Street.
Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton is a visually impaired, Jewish, African American multi-instrumentalist (banjo, fiddle, piano and guitar) who brings out the playful side of old-school music. From the mainstage at Newport Folk Festival to street corners and clubs across the U.S., Blind Boy Paxton carries the torch for traditional acoustic music. Although only in his 20s, Paxton has earned a reputation for transporting audiences back to the 1920s and making them wish they could stay there for good. He plays everything from ragtime, to hokum, old-time, French reels, Appalachian mountain music, blues and more.
General admission $22, café members $20, students & kids $12.
The Design Review Commission will host a meeting 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20 at City Hall. Among the items on the Commission’s agenda:
- A review of a new six-story Hotel and Spa at 19 Washington St. that will connect to the Adelphi Hotel. Note, this is different than the existing Adelphi hotel, which is slated to open any day now and which you can read more about here: https://saratogatodaynewspaper.com/home/item/7174-adelphi-hotel-set-to-open-in-september-additional-structure-also-proposed
- The DRC is also expected to issue an Advisory Opinion for the proposed 120 Henry Street Condominium Project. Plans for that project call for the development of a five-story condominium building to house 30 units with 70 total bedrooms to be located at 120 Henry St., on subdivided land adjacent to the Four Seasons market.
- Finally, a Historic Review will be conducted of a proposal for an addition to the Rip Van Dam Hotel, which is located at 353 Broadway. Plans call for a six-story addition - with a swimming pool and restaurant on the top floor and 152 rooms in all - to rise to a height of 70 feet on Washington Street behind the four-story brick hotel and the Starbucks café on Broadway. (See picture above). To learn more about the proposal, visit the city's web site here: http://saratoga-springs.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Item/2135?fileID=8995.
Other Meetings This Week:
The Mayor’s Seniors Advisory Committee will host a forum 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. Monday at Empire State College, 2 Union Ave. Public officials will address top concerns of seniors, including healthcare, housing and transportation. Anticipated speakers include: Congressman Paul Tonko, Sen. Kathy Marchione, City Supervisors Peter Martin and Matt Veitch, Mayor Joanne Yepsen, Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen and representatives from the offices of Sen. James Tedisco, and Assembly member Carrie Woerner.
The City Council will host a pre-agenda meeting 9:30 a.m. Monday, and a full meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
The Charter Review Committee will host a meeting 7 p.m. Monday, location TBD.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A number of fake Confederate States of America bills were discovered at the Saratoga Springs Public Library recently. An unknown quantity were found wedged inside of books shelved in the library’s section of literature related to the Holocaust, according to a library employee.
The “bills” share a general similarity with the original 500-dollar notes in style and imaging - including a profile of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson. The new “bills” were amended to include passages from the Bible and multiple images of the Star of David.
“It’s disheartening to see this going on in our community,” said city Police Lt. Bob Jillson.
The materials were reported to police on Aug. 16 and the incident logged as “unknown subject placed anti-Semitic literature into books at library.”
The local incident immediately followed a weekend during which some white nationalists converged on Charlottesville, Virginia and chanted Nazi slogans to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. That weekend concluded with one alleged Nazi sympathizer being accused of driving his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one person and injuring several others who opposed the rally.
Local authorities said there aren’t any leads regarding the placement of the phony bills into the books, and that the event seems to be an isolated incident.
“This is one more message of hate that is very unfortunate,” said Mayor Joanne Yepsen. “Our city is an inclusive and welcoming city and there is no place for any anti-Semitic action or words in Saratoga Springs.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A lineup of legendary athletes will take part in a day of music, food and sport at Saratoga Casino Saturday, Sept. 23.
A celebrity softball game will take place at noon on the field just off the casino’s Crescent Avenue entrance. Tickets are $10, kids 12 and under admitted free and a portion of the softball ticket sales benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region.
A VIP Brunch will take place at Vapor from 9 – 11 a.m. Tickets are $60 and on sale by calling 518-581-5775.
Live music - provided by Skeeter Creek, and the Refrigerators, and an autograph and memorabilia show will take place 1:30 – 5 p.m. Pricing varies by athlete.
Among those scheduled to appear: Wade Boggs, Jose Canseco, Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson, Graig Nettles, Mickey Rivers, Ozzie Smith; Otis Anderson, Lawrence Taylor; Angel Cordero, Jean Cruguet, Ron Turcotte.
To purchase tickets and for more information about the events, go to: https://saratogacasino.com/event/star-sports-festival/.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A crowd of more than 200 people, comprised of area residents, members of the city’s fire and police departments, local government representatives and the Saratoga Springs High School Choraliers gathered at High Rock Park on Sept. 11, 2017 for the city’s annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony.
City Mayor Joanne Yepsen offered the following comments: “It was 16 years ago today our country was devastated by shock and fear, even though we woke up to a perfectly normal morning,” said the mayor, recalling the blue-sky Tuesday that would take a violent turn.
“The attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives left scars on millions of others. We kept watching our televisions, watching the horror of that day, detail after detail. But then, we watched something else begin to happen. We saw ourselves, a diverse and wide-ranging nation of individuals with different ideas, values and backgrounds, and we became strong together. Unified and supportive of one another,” Yepsen said.
For many of us, the most powerful memory of that day in September is the way we worked together, in any way that we could.”