Gallery photo shows an oversized shipping container used by the U.S. Navy.
"...the number of Navy personnel will be reduced."--Naval Nuclear Laboratory spokesman.
WEST MILTON — A spokesman for the United States Navy’s nuclear submarine training site in West Milton confirmed this week that significant personnel changes would occur after an ambitious upgrade project starts there in September.
Public Affairs Officer Gene Terwilliger, on behalf of the Naval Nuclear Laboratory, reported in an email that one submarine “prototype” at the Kesselring facility would be shut down completely “because it has reached its end of life.”
A second prototype, which he called the “S8G,” is scheduled for a major “Refueling and Overhaul” that is expected to last until 2021.
The result, according to Terwilliger, is that the current number of 1,200 Navy officers and enlisted personnel who are active in West Milton will be reduced to 525 when the three-year project commences.
He added that there would be only one nuclear submarine prototype used for training when the Kesselring project is complete, requiring a steady presence thereafter of 800 officers and enlisted men and women.
“Between September 2018 and 2021,” Terwilliger continued, “the reduced number of Navy personnel will be partially offset by increases to the on-site industrial subcontractors’ staff, highly skilled shipyard workers who will temporarily relocate to the area, and local trades that will be hired to support the Refueling and Overhaul project.”
He further explained how the 200 subcontractors who are “normally” at Kesselring to perform prototype maintenance have already doubled in number to 400. Their ranks will be increased to 600 until the upgrade work is completed.
Previous statements by Navy officials have indicated that the prototype projects would ultimately cost $180 million.
Last summer, county and local officials were informed that the Navy’s plans would include numerous oversized shipments of materials on train tracks in the Village of Ballston Spa and roadways between there and West Milton.
Front and last photos by www.photoandgraphic.com. In gallery (at left): The site on Route 50 in Wilton where Prime Group Holdings plans to build a two-level storage facility. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
BALLSTON SPA – The Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) board members reviewed an application for more than $500,000 of tax relief this week in relation to a large storage facility north of the Wilton Mall.
The Saratoga Springs firm Prime Group Holdings has been planning the project for many months and submitted the application.
At more than 90,000 square feet on three acres next to Route 50, and a total project cost of about $4 million, Prime Group’s two-level structure will be among the biggest high-tech storage facilities in the region.
Prime Group officials say they intend to build a “showcase” among many properties.
In late December, the Wilton Planning Board approved a related final site plan. In recent months the Prime Group land itself was cleared and prepared for construction.
The IDA board voted to set a formal public hearing focused on the firm’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) application for 8 a.m. on Monday, April 9 in Wilton Town Hall.
A PILOT valued at more than $527,000 is sought by Prime Group, which in turn estimates its various project expenses to result in a net gain of about $400,000.
Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership President Marty Vanags gave a brief overview of the Route 50 storage facility.
“The building is highly secured, using state-of-the-art locking systems and climate controls,” he explained. “This type of business warehousing is very important to small businesses that cannot maintain inventory in their own facilities.”
Vanags reported that the project will generate 90 construction jobs and $56,900 in local property tax revenue after the five-year PILOT expires.
He then introduced Gerard Moser, who appeared as the official representative of Prime Group Holdings in the PILOT application process.
Business owners in Saratoga Springs typically have to pay $40 to $50 per square foot for operating space, according to Moser.
“You don’t want to be wasting $40 to $50 a square foot to store inventory,” he said. “You want to have a less expensive place to offset your costs, and that’s where we come into play. “
Moser said Prime Group’s Route 50 site, as planned, would accommodate at least one tractor-trailer for loading and unloading. There will be two elevators (costing $80,000 each, he noted) and access doors on both sides of the building.
“Everything is going to be designed so that the business owner will have a facility that works for them,” Moser informed the IDA board members. He sees the location as ideal due to the growing number of businesses in the area, not just south on Route 50.
“When we bring clients in, we want to be able to showcase for clients what we do,” he said.
Moser also described the wider scope of Prime Group Holding’s operations. The firm manages nearly $1.5 billion worth of properties in 23 states, he indicated.
“We are the largest independent owner and operator of storage facilities throughout the U.S.,” Moser said.
He added: “We’re not limited to just storage facilities. We do own apartments and other types of projects,” including Malta properties “partially owned by Prime Holdings.”
Moser had a long discussion with the IDA board members regarding an apparent need to expand Prime Group’s corporate headquarters as well.
Moser described the $400,000 worth of PILOT savings for the storage facility in Wilton as a vital component of Prime Group’s local expansion plans.
He said the Prime Group offices on Railroad Place are “bulging at the seams” with 40 employees. The firm considers Saratoga County as an ideal location, Moser added, noting how 20 more employees may be hired to occupy any new space.
But IDA board members criticized the timing of such discussions. They pointed to a strong possibility that the number of long-term jobs created by the Route 50 storage facility in Wilton would be minimal.
“It’s an exciting project, no question about it—don’t get us wrong,” Board Chairman Rodney Sutton said. “But we are dealing with taxpayers’ dollars, and on first blush this is a tough project to sell with one or two or multiple jobs” at the Route 50 site.
Sutton added that he is personally amenable to considering a role for the IDA in Prime Group’s office expansion plans, but only at the right time.
Before disclosing that he has worked in the past with Prime Group Holdings through his own insurance firm, Sutton said the IDA board would determine “how to structure this so that it’s equitable to you, the applicant, and then we can go forward.”
(Left to right) The late Robert J. Creifelds. Photo provided by Armer Funeral Home; Ballston Spa Fire Department Chief Bill Lewis, Volunteer Apprentice Tess Davidson-Brown, Second Assistant Kevin Krogh and Volunteer Apprentice Zachary Greenspan; and National Bottle Museum Board Director Ellie Dillon, Director Gary Moeller and Ballston Spa Mayor John Romano. Photos by Larry Goodwin.
BALLSTON SPA — Village leaders mostly avoided the heavy topic of budget problems Monday night, as the name of a respected volunteer firefighter flashed in red letters on a digital sign outside.
After dark the Eagle Matt Lee firehouse sign brightens up a part of Bath Street, and it is visible through the windows of the Ballston Spa Village Board’s meeting room.
In light of recent events, Mayor John Romano decided to reverse the board’s agenda items and start with “new business.”
He offered praise to Tess Davidson-Brown and Zachary Greenspan, both area teenagers, who were approved by the board as volunteer apprentices in the Ballston Spa Fire Department. They had appeared for the occasion together with Chief Bill Lewis and Second Assistant Kevin Krogh.
Before introducing Davidson-Brown and Greenspan, Romano took a moment to honor Robert J. Creifelds, who passed away the weekend of March 4 after serving as a firefighter in the village for nearly 60 years.
“He’s the epitome of what volunteerism is all about,” the mayor said.
The firehouse’s digital sign continuously scrolled the letters “R.I.P.” for Creifelds.
Lewis reported that Creifelds, in previous years, had served in Rotterdam’s Carman Fire Department and volunteered elsewhere, too.
Romano also paid homage to the work of Gary Moeller, director of the National Bottle Museum at 76 Milton Avenue, which was presented with a $1,200 check from the village.
The museum, according to Romano, preserves the history of Ballston Spa as a producer of bottles that were then shipped worldwide, as a means to distribute the area’s famously healthy spring waters.
A more graphic description appears on the website http://nationalbottlemuseum.org: “Exhibits inside of the National Bottle Museum allow visitors to view thousands of glass bottles that were produced by strong men who toiled in intense heat for 12 hours a day, six days a week, when the demand for glass containers was staggering,” reads one account. “It was an era when vast commercial empires rose and fell. In many cases, only the bottles remain as witness to the drama.”
“We appreciate what you do,” Romano told Moeller, before giving him a second “surprise” gift: a symbolic key to the village. It was earned by Moeller’s dutiful efforts at the museum.
“His job is, for sure, under-appreciated,” Romano added.
“I have to say, I’m a little touched,” Moeller responded.
When visitors ask about tourist attractions in Saratoga Springs, Moeller explained, he instead recommends they go see places that are much closer. “You can go to Saratoga, if you want,” he tells tourists. “Ballston Spa is a cool village.”
The mayor thanked as well Ellie Dillon, the National Bottle Museum board director, who had accompanied Moeller to the March 12 meeting.
As the village board members proceeded through their regular agenda items, which were recently updated to include specific budgetary information, Trustee Noah Shaw requested to see even more details about $3,500 of expenditures in the Department of Public Works.
In relation to the village’s ongoing effort to address shortfalls in its $4.1 million annual budget, Shaw said every public meeting agenda should “identify the amounts” of money deducted from each separate account.
During its meeting in late January, the board voted to take out a short-term loan of $600,000 from Ballston Spa National Bank to cover a number of current expenses.
But Romano insisted this week on ending the discussion as it started, with a focus on more positive aspects of life in Ballston Spa.
He predicted that weather would not be a factor for the upcoming Easter Egg Hunt that is popular among local families.
The annual event, sponsored jointly by the village and the Town of Milton, is scheduled to take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 25 at the Milton Community Center on Northline Road.
“It’s a good way to run off the pancake breakfast,” concluded Trustee Robert Cavanaugh.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A spokesman for Delaware North, the company that operates the Gideon Putnam Hotel, has indicated that Tuesday, May 1 is the targeted date for reopening the popular resort. It has been closed since the middle of January, when serious flooding occurred in a basement.
Delaware North spokesman Glen White said this week that repairs are ongoing at the Gideon Putnam in relation to damage that was sustained to gas lines and boilers, electric wires, computers and phone systems.
With the hotel closed, White reported that “some planned renovations” are also being completed in its 124 guest rooms, including painting and the installation of new carpets.
Guest and group reservations are still being rescheduled as a result of the flooding event, White added.
For more information, visit the website https://www.gideonputnam.com.
(Left to right) Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association Treasurer Christine E. Kernochan; President Stacy Simmons; Vice President Sandra Hassfurter; and Secretary Kelly Ostrander. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
BALLSTON SPA – Members of the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association (BSBPA) have settled on new officers to continue the promotion of village businesses and special events in the next fiscal year.
Effective April 1, current BSBPA President Stacy Simmons, Vice President Sandy Hassfurter and Treasurer Christine E. Kernochan were renamed for those positions. Secretary Kelly Ostrander and Kathi Leigh, a member of the BSBPA Board of Directors, were named, respectively, vice president and secretary.
The BSBPA was officially formed in 1983. Its members organize networking breakfasts every month at village businesses, as well as popular “First Friday” events such as the “Chocolate Fest” in February. The group also arranges seasonal movies and concerts in Wiswall Park on Front Street.
Starting at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 19, the BSBPA is hosting a 35th anniversary Community Mixer and its 2018 Annual Meeting at the Next Door Kitchen and Bar at 51 Front Street. The event is open to the public. Admission is $30 per person.
Photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
Work to Begin Soon on Crescent Avenue and East High Street Spans Over I-87
MALTA – Local officials are making preparations for several months of detours around the Crescent Avenue and East High Street bridges over the Adirondack Northway, which have been scheduled for closures in early April due to an apparent need for upgrades.
Saratoga County Emergency Services Director Carl Zeilman confirmed this week that state Department of Transportation (DOT) officials had convened a recent meeting to discuss the pending bridge closures with county fire and emergency personnel.
Both infrastructure projects will be completed entirely by state DOT contractors.
The related information, Zeilman said, “has already been circulated” countywide among 911 dispatchers and other emergency workers.
All of the county’s 911 dispatchers operate out of the Primary Public Safety Answering Point (or PSAP) at the Saratoga County jail complex, according to Zeilman.
“It’s a team effort when we do this,” he added. “It really does work smoothly.”
During a brief presentation Monday night, Malta Deputy Supervisor Darren O’Connor indicated that the East High Street bridge—situated within Malta’s town borders—would be closed to traffic from Monday, April 2 through Labor Day in September.
Motorists commonly use that span as a shortcut between Route 9 and the Village of Ballston Spa.
O’Connor said he is “not entirely clear on the time frame” for the bridge closure on Crescent Avenue, which connects Route 9 motorists with the Saratoga Casino Hotel area and lakeside residential neighborhoods in the City of Saratoga Springs.
“We’ll just have to handle it the best we can. We’ll adapt,” offered Police Department Lt. Robert Jillson, when contacted for comment. “Our hand is forced.”
If the bridge closure continues through track season, Jillson added, officers could still direct travelers down the Crescent Avenue exit ramp to connect with the Northway’s southbound lanes.
Bryan Viggiani, a DOT spokesman, indicated this week that he is preparing formal public announcements regarding the Saratoga County bridge closures. He declined to provide further details.
(Left to right) Photos by Jordan Craig and Ann MacAffer.
BALLSTON SPA – Last month, a state Supreme Court judge dismissed a lawsuit resulting from a two-year dispute over expansion plans at the Saratoga Polo Association property on Bloomfield Road in Greenfield Center.
The Feb. 16 decision issued by Judge Thomas Nolan centered on the difference between a “legally enforceable joint venture” and “an unenforceable agreement to agree.”
Nolan granted a motion by defendants to dismiss the case “in its entirety,” clearly indicating that it belongs in the latter category.
Attorney Robert Ganz of the Albany firm Lippes, Mathias, Wexler and Friedman represented defendants Michael Bucci and James Rossi.
“It is my clients’ hope that that will be the end of it,” he said, referring to Nolan’s ruling. It can be appealed to a higher state court within 30 days, he added.
Ganz said the legal dispute revolves around the lack of a “binding commitment” to complete a substantial development project at the polo club.
Several years ago, Greenfield town officials approved a formal application for the same project.
As they entered into subsequent agreements, Bucci and Rossi intended to preserve club grounds that are “laden with tradition,” Ganz explained.
Specifically, Nolan reviewed details for the proposed construction of “70 residential units to supplement the existing polo operations” on the 43-acre site; and various financing arrangements for the project that were discussed by both sides in the legal dispute.
Plaintiffs Duane Gerenser, Carl Berry and Michael Connor had filed the lawsuit against Bucci and Rossi to “force control” of the development, according to Ganz.
The court decision referenced a total value for an agreement between the parties of $3.6 million.
Pioneer Savings Bank and First National Bank of Scotia also were named as parties to the dispute.
Attorneys for Berry, Connor and Gerenser at the Albany firm Cullen and Dykman could not be reached for comment.
In an “amended complaint,” Nolan wrote, the plaintiffs alleged eight “causes of action” against Green Fields Development and Saratoga Polo Catering and Event Services—the business entities set up by Bucci and Rossi.
Nolan indicated that a ninth allegation of “aiding and abetting the Green Fields defendants in their breach of fiduciary duty” was directed at Michaels and Laraway Holdings, LLC.
Still, Nolan wrote, “it is clear from its language that other documents had to be created before the contemplated joint venture became a legally enforceable business venture. The facts that plaintiffs elected to move forward with design and engineering consultants and incurred expenses before they had a final ‘deal’ cannot serve as the basis for the court to find that the parties agreed to all of the material terms to develop the polo property.
“In sum, the court finds that there was no enforceable contract between plaintiffs and the Green Fields defendants,” the judge concluded. “Thus, there can be no cognizable breach of the contract. All of the plaintiffs’ causes of action lack merit since they all are premised on the claim that there was a binding contract with Green Fields.”
(Front photo) Jeremy Armstrong. Photo by www.photoandgraphic.com; Armstrong, Vicky DeNew and Communications Specialist Pamela Polacsek at the 2017 Saratoga Bridges White Party Gala. Photo by Heather Bohm-Tallman; and Armstrong in Halloween mode with his housemates in Milton. Photo provided.
MALTA – Jeremy Armstrong is the type of guy who always finds a way to keep smiling.
“If you set your mind to do anything you want to do, hard work pays off,” says the 33-year-old Milton resident.
This week, Armstrong made arrangements in his busy schedule to conduct a brief interview at the administrative offices of Saratoga Bridges in Malta.
According to Saratoga Bridges Communications Specialist Pamela Polacsek, President Ronald Reagan first declared March as Disabilities Awareness Month more than 30 years ago. Three years later, the U.S. Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act.
For the benefit of people with disabilities, that law mandated special parking spaces along with safe access points to public and private buildings nationwide.
At about the same time, Polacsek herself was afflicted with an unidentified virus that attacked her nervous system and confined her to a wheelchair.
“It was life-changing, but things happen,” she said. Polacsek noted that her “path” eventually led to Saratoga Bridges, where she has worked for almost 20 years.
She reported this week that Saratoga Bridges assists more than 100 individuals by managing residential opportunities for them in local apartments and group homes, such as the house in Milton that Armstrong shares with two other men.
The goal is to help every person make the best of living, working and “socializing in the community,” Polacsek said.
Armstrong, a Saratoga Bridges client for 10 years, is more than happy to explain how that goal can be reached.
He occupies much of his time working in a grocery store; volunteering for local food pantries or animal shelters; drawing; and otherwise enjoying his downtime at home.
“I love doing art, and I especially like to draw Great Escape stuff and Christmas and Halloween,” Armstrong said, emphasizing his fascination with amusement parks. He has practiced at the Creative Endeavors Art Center at 49 Front Street in Ballston Spa.
“Once I get back into art classes, I want to sell my artwork,” he added. “I’m trying to save up for a trip this fall to Six Flags in Georgia.”
Armstrong says he likes “roller coasters” the most, and that during the recreation season he takes trips almost every weekend to the Great Escape.
For nearly 12 years, Armstrong has worked in the bakery of the Ballston Avenue Price Chopper. “The people there are great, the employees. Everybody treats me very well,” he said. “Pretty soon I’m going to be trained to write on the cakes.”
Armstrong said he also finds the volunteer work offered through Saratoga Bridges to be quite satisfying.
The Achieving Career Enhancement Without Walls program puts Armstrong in regular contact with a Ballston Spa food pantry; a backpack program at the Moreau Community Center that helps needy children; the Open Door Mission in Glens Falls; and the Friends of Phoebie Animal Rescue in Queensbury.
“I love dogs and puppies,” he beamed.
In addition, Armstrong admitted that he recently accomplished a personal goal of losing weight. The whole experience has enriched his relationships with both friends and staff at Saratoga Bridges, he indicated.
“I just want to feel better about myself, so I’m trying to eat healthier and I’ve lost about 50 pounds,” Armstrong said. “I haven’t had a soda since Christmas. I feel great. I’ve got a lot of motivation.”
STILLWATER – Town officials in Stillwater advanced a proposal last week by Albany-based Amedore Homes to expand a residential development near Route 9P on the southern end of Saratoga Lake.
Amedore Homes plans to add 19 buildings, each containing four condominiums, to its existing Winding Brook neighborhood of more than 40 single-family homes off Battlefield Road (Route 423).
On Thursday, March 1, the Stillwater Town Board voted unanimously in favor of making a formal “negative” declaration under the state Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), indicating that Amedore’s 76-unit condo project will not have adverse impacts.
The board also was unanimous in passing a related amendment for the Winding Brook Planned Development District (PDD), moving Amedore’s proposal to the next level in the approval process.
The Stillwater Planning Board is expected to review Amedore’s PDD amendment and formal site plans as well. The planning board will schedule additional public hearings in the months ahead, according to town Supervisor Edward Kinowski.
The Ellsworth Commons complex in Malta. Photo by www.photoandgraphic.com; and a slow rush-hour moment at an Exit 12 traffic circle. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
MALTA — Already, the traffic circle in Malta’s town center must rank as one of the busiest intersections in Saratoga County.
Most drivers there seem so focused on avoiding other vehicles that they ignore an important historical marker by the road. The tall, blue sign with yellow letters honors Col. Elmer Ellsworth, who it says was “born nearby” 181 years ago. He reportedly was “the first” Union Army officer killed in the Civil War.
The volume of traffic east of I-87 Exit 12 has increased rapidly with the recent arrival of a sprawling, four-story, mixed-use commercial and residential complex that also was named after Ellsworth—not to mention the construction of new banks, hotels, offices, restaurants and several more housing developments on either side of Routes 9 and 67.
This week, officials in the Town of Malta indicated that the localized business boom will continue, as they moved plans through the approval process for an ambitious commercial plaza on Route 9 and a Cumberland Farms on Route 67.
A well-organized team of professionals presented maps and details for the Cumberland Farms project on Tuesday before the Malta Planning Board. Stefanie Dilallo Bitter of the Glens Falls law firm Bartlett, Pontiff, Stewart and Rhodes, led them.
“We didn’t submit this application in haste,” began Bitter, noting how her team members are closely analyzing applicable town codes. She said the 24-hour convenience store would be “a very attractive building” that stands as a “perfect” complement to recent development in the area.
After obtaining town approvals, Bitter said she anticipates construction of the 5,200-square-foot store to start in April 2019 and finish by that autumn. It will be located on the vacant lot owned by DCG Development between Blacksmith Drive and a Verizon Wireless outlet.
Saratoga Water Services President Marissa Mackay, whose company supplies considerable amounts of water in the same area, said in an email that the store “will utilize roughly 572 gallons per day based on our typical calculation of similar structures and building use.”
In general, Mackay added, her company is well prepared to supply any increases in water usage amidst Malta’s building boom.
“We are acutely aware of the growth of the town and incidentally the needed growth of our facilities in order to properly service our existing customers, as well as be able to support the growth—be it commercial, industrial or residential,” she wrote.
Bitter’s team and planning board members did discuss numerous “constraints” at the Cumberland Farms site, including the proximity of a traffic circle and the possible difficulties that tractor-trailer drivers may face as they navigate turns to deliver store supplies.
Malta Building and Planning Coordinator Jaime O’Neill explained that the applicants have proposed a driveway on Route 67 with right turns only for vehicles entering and exiting. Those specific site plans are being reviewed by the state Department of Transportation, she said.
The Cumberland Farms project is covered by Malta’s “form-based code” process, which enables applicants to negotiate directly with town planning staff on specific site plan changes and thereby avoid more time-consuming municipal approvals.
However, Malta Planner Floria Huizinga made it clear that the proposal would require a number of modifications, in addition to variances from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
She mentioned, in particular, the proper setbacks from Route 67; the precise dimensions of a patio; a lack of suitable landscaping and sidewalks; and the presence of “faux” windows on the proposed building.
“They have some challenges in front of them when they go to the zoning board,” Huizinga advised, referring to the applicants.
Planning Board Member Roger Laime said he appreciated modern Cumberland Farms stores. But the brightness of any lights and the visibility of “mechanicals” both need to be addressed, he said.
At the Feb. 27 meeting, the planning board agenda also listed a concept site plan for the “Park Place commercial project.” It will fill most of a nearly 10-acre site on either side of Landau Boulevard, which connects to Route 9 across from a gas station.
The Park Place project falls under Malta’s form-based code as well. But last year the Town Board approved a related Planned Development District measure, requiring the applicant to cap its square footage on the lower level of the complex.
Michael Bianchino of the Malta firm Lansing Engineering said the project consists of 80,000 square feet of “ground floor commercial space.” Significant additional square footage will be available on the upper levels.
Bianchino explained that negotiations with prospective tenants are ongoing, and that they may include a restaurant, day-care facility and drive-thru pharmacy.
“The surrounding infrastructure was designed to accommodate this development,” he told the board members.
If the final town approvals can be secured by the end of March, Bianchino added, construction of the commercial plaza is expected to start later this summer.
O’Neill expressed confidence that the town planning staff would usher both current projects—and a slew of others in the immediate area—toward successful conclusions.
She welcomed the challenge of managing Malta’s continued growth, too. “I would say it’s extremely robust, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down,” O’Neill said.