[Saratoga TODAY Publisher Chad Beatty contributed to this report. Aerial photo by Dave Bigler; other photos of Charles "Dude" Dehn and John Mishoe provided by Dehn's.]
SARATOGA SPRINGS — “I have no intentions of retiring,” says Charles “Dude” Dehn, who took a few minutes to sit down this week while raindrops loudly pelted the tops of his greenhouses off Beekman Street.
Taking the reins in 1960, Dude has been at the helm of the city’s oldest flower shop for the past 57 years. Even if you never received a floral arrangement from Dehn’s (but we recommend
you get one), you probably still admire their work on a regular basis and don’t even know it. Every year Dehn’s supplies the city with tens of thousands of flower displays to splash color along Broadway as well as the entranceways to the Spa City.
The Dehn family has run the business since the late 1800s, making 2017 the 125th anniversary of the business. A celebratory barbeque is planned for Sunday, June 11 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to honor that anniversary. It is open to the public.
When asked if he ever takes vacations, Dehn admits that he and his wife Kathy have taken a cruise each winter for over 20 years. They also travel to Las Vegas in October.
From hundreds of miles away, though, the man still thinks about how to preserve his family’s livelihood on Beekman Street and calls to check in.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Dehn said.
Considering the dedicated efforts of more than a dozen employees between two locations and constant assistance from Terri and John Mishoe, Dehn’s daughter and son-in-law, the business can always stand on its solid foundation in the community.
City workers and local landscapers routinely pop in to fill their orders, regardless of the weather. And longtime customers just have to greet Dude himself.
“I like to say I came from nuclear power to flower power,” explained John Mishoe, who manages the greenhouses for Dehn. Dehn’s daughter Terri manages the company’s books. Both Dehn and Mishoe are U.S. Navy veterans.
All three said they have noticed recent changes in local plant preferences for the household, including a shift away from flowering plants toward more “succulents” and edibles like vegetables.
Increasingly, they said, customers also seem to prefer buying potted plants to perennials, which have to be planted outdoors by hand. The business used to sell lots of common shrubs, too, but no longer.
Many dozens of large Boston ferns—with a retail price of $65 each—were hanging in one of several of Dehn’s greenhouses. Most of those potted ferns are likely to adorn the porches of city estates this summer, according to Dehn.
Another noticeable change according to Deb Converse, Dehn’s floral designer, is the wedding category. “Saratoga continues to grow as a wedding destination and the bridal parties have increased in size. Over the years we have seen bridal parties increase from two to three attendants, to eight to ten,” said Converse. “They come to Saratoga Springs for our beautiful scenic offerings as well as our beautiful floral offerings.”
According to Dude and his team, the busiest holidays for flowers are now Valentine’s and Mother’s Day. The company grows its own poinsettias and other annual plants, they said, but buys its roses from a wholesaler in Albany.
Terri Mishoe said she ensures Dehn’s focus remains on supporting student clubs through prom time fundraisers at local high schools. She also organizes company tables at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in the summer.
“We like to be city friendly and school friendly,” adds her father.
And he knows his family’s business will continue to thrive even though, by name, he happens to be “the last Dehn” in charge.
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STILLWATER – A proposal to put up 19 new buildings near the southern part of Saratoga Lake—each containing four condominiums—is among multiple development projects that area residents are closely monitoring.
At a public hearing on Thursday, Feb. 15, the Stillwater Town Board heard from a number of residents regarding a revised proposal by Albany-based Amedore Homes to extend its Winding Brook development, which currently has more than 40 properties.
The proposal, initially discussed last summer by town officials, at first involved the construction of 11 more single-family homes closer to Saratoga Lake. But Amedore revised it to 19 buildings containing a total of 76 condominiums.
Representatives for Amedore Homes did not return repeated calls for comment.
The board voted on June 20, 2017 to table a resolution advancing the Winding Brook Planned Development District (PDD) after hearing from nearly a dozen residents who opposed the measure, according to minutes of that meeting provided by the town.
The opponents included a man who served on Stillwater’s Comprehensive Plan Committee. He claimed the Winding Brook PDD contradicts that 2006 plan because it “destroys the character” of the town, the minutes indicated. Other residents cited serious traffic concerns.
Subsequently, the Albany firm Creighton Manning was hired to conduct a traffic study of Battlefield Road (Route 423) and Route 9P, both of which are state roads. The latter roadway is well known by lake residents for its narrow design and many turns.
Stillwater town officials are also considering various other projects in the same area. They include a separate proposal for 21 single-family homes off Luther Road, called White Sulphur Springs, which was introduced at the Feb. 15 meeting.
“This continued increase in high-density development should be subject to greater holistic scrutiny due to the cumulative environmental impacts they will produce and the increased traffic on Route 9P,” observed Cedar Bluff Road resident John Cashin, in a Feb. 13 email sent to dozens of recipients.
Cashin is among a group of Town of Saratoga residents opposing a large residential project on Cedar Bluff Road proposed by Witt Construction.
“As Route 9P is a state road, the towns take little responsibility for traffic patterns, potential widening or structural maintenance,” he added.
Stillwater Supervisor Edward Kinowski called the pending construction proposals in his jurisdiction “reasonable,” adding that any determination about Route 9P is best left to the “experts.”
If enough residents petition the state Department of Transportation (DOT) for upgrades to Route 9P, Kinowski said, it is more likely the state agency will act.
Bryan Viggiani, a DOT spokesman, explained in an email that traffic impacts are reviewed under the state Environmental Quality Review (SEQRA) process. If any work on Route 9P is required, he added, the funding “would fall to the governing municipal body and/or the developer as part of impact mitigation.”
“People want to live on the lake,” Kinowski continued, when asked to respond directly to Cashin’s suggestion that local governments should cooperate more and coordinate projects across town borders.
Kinowski opined that local governments cannot dictate to developers how and where to build. “It doesn’t work that way,” he said.
“I don’t think anybody can stop development,” offered Cristina A. Connolly, who chairs the Saratoga Lake Protection and Improvement District (SLPID).
Connolly said SLPID is “proactive” in terms of working with municipalities to ensure the water quality of Saratoga Lake, which she called “Grade A.”
Municipalities, in turn, have to “abide” by proper regulations pertaining to storm water runoff whenever large development projects are considered.
Saratoga Lake residents question the long-term impacts on municipal finances as well.
David Chatt, a resident of Amedore’s existing Winding Brook neighborhood, sent a Feb. 17 email to Kinowski and the other town board members arguing that the Winding Brook PDD “is not a good financial investment.”
Chatt countered a claim by Amedore that the condos—each priced at $260,000—have the “potential” to raise an additional $127,000 in tax revenue for the town compared to single-family homes.
“The key word in that statement is ‘potential,’” he wrote. “The Amedore analysis does not include any information regarding when the additional revenue would be received as described nor does it address the probability of the underlying assumptions being correct.
“By allowing the condos to be built, the town is gambling on a potentially better tax revenue stream, and will have to wait well over a decade to see if it potentially pans out or not,” Chatt said.
He concluded: “I respectfully ask that you approve the amendment to the Winding Brook PDD for eleven single family homes only.”
As of this week, it is not clear if the Stillwater Town Board will vote on the amended Winding Brook PDD at its next regular meeting, scheduled for Thursday, March 15.
BALLSTON SPA – Saratoga County supervisors support imposing severe penalties on drug dealers whose illicit sales result in fatal overdoses. They seek legal relief for employers that hire negligent workers, who then cause accidents on job sites. And they want coroners to be legally compelled to honor the wishes of every registered organ donor in the county.
These are among a list of annual priorities that will be voted on as a package by the county Board of Supervisors at its Feb. 27 monthly meeting. Lawmakers in Albany would have to pass or amend multiple state laws for the county to achieve such goals.
During committee meetings earlier this month, supervisors briefly discussed the proposed “Laree’s Law,” which would establish the crime of homicide for illegal opioid dealers whose products can be directly tied to overdose fatalities.
“Saratoga County fully supports any action that will result in the slowing of the heroin epidemic,” reads that section of the county’s 14-point 2018 Legislative Program.
Saratoga Springs Supervisor Tara Gaston said the proposed law—originally sponsored several years ago by state Sen. George Amedore (R-Rotterdam)—should include a clear exemption for medical professionals.
Last year, the State Senate passed Laree’s Law. But Assembly members in the New York City area opposed it, and they continue to do so in the current session.
County supervisors also support reforming the so-called “Scaffold law,” which they say is unique to New York. They claim the law, which pertains to liability for workplace accidents statewide, increases annual costs on private businesses by nearly $1.5 billion.
Moreover, school districts, county and local governments pay out an estimated $785 million to comply with the statute.
“The Scaffold law generates an astounding number of expensive lawsuits that contribute to a variety of negative impacts—higher construction costs, fewer jobs and higher prices for construction-related goods and services,” the county summary states.
The issue revolves around problems that can arise, for example, when workers consume alcohol on lunch breaks, then return to job sites and fall or injure others.
“Currently, the employee bears no responsibility” while employers are held liable under the law, explained Mark LaVigne, deputy director of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC).
During its annual Legislative Conference between Jan. 29 and 31 in Albany, NYSAC passed a resolution urging state leaders to consider “the full repeal of the Scaffold Law or its modification to include a pure standard of comparative negligence.”
The county supports numerous other state actions this year as well, involving sales taxes from online transactions; video conferencing for county jail inmates, who are currently transported to court appearances at significant taxpayer expense; increased county revenue from local Department of Motor Vehicle offices; and more.
Yet supervisors are “strongly requesting” that state leaders in the Assembly oppose a Senate measure to refund “surplus auction funds to former owners” of foreclosed properties, according to the county’s legislative summary.
“We’ve made some substantial profits as a result of these auctions,” offered County Attorney Stephen Dorsey at a Feb. 6 meeting. He noted how most of the properties sold by the county in auctions are vacant lands.
Preparing for the auctions themselves involves “a lot of employee manpower,” Dorsey added. “Sometimes, we take a loss. It varies from property to property,” he said. “You don’t always make money.”
Saratoga County Coroner Susan Hayes-Masa also made an impassioned appeal on behalf of registered organ donors to the Legislative and Research Committee.
For years, Hayes-Masa said, she has perceived the need for a new state law that would require coroners to report all organ donors upon their passing. That often does not happen, she explained, because existing laws stipulate that only deaths occurring inside hospitals trigger the necessary referrals.
There are 91,000 registered organ donors in Saratoga County alone and 4.8 million statewide, the county summary indicates.
Nationwide, more than 120,000 people are waiting for transplants of healthy organs, Hayes-Masa said.
She met recently with Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh (R-Ballston), who is now sponsoring a related bill in Albany.
“We’re not asking coroners to make decisions—just to make a phone call,” Hayes-Masa told the supervisors.
“Families gain solace,” she added, “in knowing that their loved ones are helping others.”
MALTA – Earlier this month, two prominent Republicans endorsed the campaign by political newcomer Morgan Zegers for New York’s 113th Assembly District.
On Friday, Feb. 9, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro) gave the keynote address during the Saratoga County Republican Committee’s Annual Cocktail Party at Saratoga National Golf Club, where she formally endorsed Zegers for the State Assembly seat.
As part of her studies at American University in Washington, D.C., Zegers served as an intern for Stefanik and ever since the women have maintained communications.
On Thursday, Feb. 1, New York Sen. Jim Tedisco (R-Glenville) also endorsed Zegers during her campaign kickoff event at Longfellow’s Restaurant on Union Avenue.
“I believe I am the right woman for the job and I am humbled to know Congresswoman Stefanik and Senator Tedisco agree,” Zegers said in a prepared statement.
The Saratoga County Board of Elections has not set the official date in September for the Republican primary. If Zegers wins that contest, she aims to unseat incumbent Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) in the Nov. 6 general election.
BALLSTON – With construction pending on the $10 million installation of sewage infrastructure on both sides of Ballston Lake, town leaders are now proposing a similar project in the hamlet of Burnt Hills that is valued at almost $16 million.
Multiple development projects are already underway in the town, including the construction of mixed-used commercial and housing units along Route 50 south of Ballston Spa; and near Mourningkill Drive and Charlton Road.
Town officials view the proposed sewer projects as related to that progress, especially since they are considering significant zoning changes for the Route 50 corridor as well.
Ballston’s Senior Planner Sophia Marruso said that some developers are waiting to see what the “final scope” will be from that legislative process.
On Tuesday, during the first of several related public forums, Ballston Councilman Bill Goslin explained that the installation of a second large system of septic pipes would result in “a reasonable amount of development” in Burnt Hills.
Later that evening, the Ballston Town Board voted 3-2 in favor of creating the Route 50 Southern Sewer District subject to a public referendum on Wednesday, April 18.
Three other public forums are scheduled in town hall at 323 Charlton Road prior that date. They will be held on Thursday, March 1 at 6 p.m.; Wednesday, March 14 at 10 a.m.; and Tuesday, March 20 at 6 p.m.
Previously, town officials had approved the creation of the Ballston Lake Sewer District. Goslin said he expects construction to start next year on that $10 million project.
Councilman John Antoski, who voted against the new proposal along with Councilman Chuck Curtiss, said he was motivated by the fact that a “higher number” of town residents supported the lake sewer project.
Both proposed septic systems would connect to existing Saratoga County pipes east of Ballston Lake.
The county maintains 350 miles of pipes and about 100 pump stations—often aided by gravity—for transporting 13 million gallons of wastewater daily to a treatment plant in Mechanicville, according to Sewer District Executive Director Dan Rourke.
Kim Kotkoskie, owner of Capital Region Environmental Engineering and Compliance PLLC, joined Goslin and Ballston Supervisor Tim Szczepaniak at the Feb. 13 forum to answer questions about the Burnt Hills proposal from local residents.
As the forum started, a man who did not identify himself insisted on interrupting Kotkoskie to claim that the approval process is being conducted "in the dark."*
Still, she emphasized the importance of the sewer project due to elevated levels of harmful bacteria that are being detected in surrounding areas, saying: “People don’t understand what’s happening underground in this part of town.”
According to Kotkoskie, only businesses and residents in the Route 50 Southern Sewer District would be required to pay the charges necessary for connecting to the system.
Dozens of homes and businesses around Burnt Hills would be able to connect to pipes installed alongside Route 50, Lakehill, Midline and Sherwin roads, Larkin Drive and Fireman’s Lane, according to a project map. A new pump station would be built on Main Street south of the lake.
Kotkoskie said the total cost of installing the new sewer district would be $15.8 million, though up to $2.5 million in New York State grants may be available to help reduce that amount—if the town applies for them within a certain time frame.
Kotkoskie said the charges to property owners in Burnt Hills include one-time connection fees in the range of $3,500 to $10,000, depending on actual distances from the new sewer-district pipes and the needs for grinder pumps.
She added that the “worst case” scenario (without any supporting state grants) would equate to a $926 fee paid by property owners annually for 30 years.
Goslin explained that the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake School District would be required to pay a fee of $112,000, which would increase annual property tax bills by $13.
“I’ve heard a number of people say that’s too costly for them,” Antoski said, after voting this week against the Route 50 sewer district measure.
Yet Goslin, at least, sees it as a prime opportunity for the town of Ballston.
At the public forum, Goslin cited federal studies that were done 20 years ago to indicate that every dollar municipal governments spend on infrastructure projects—such as the one proposed in Burnt Hills—equals $14 of “tax base back.”
The proposed zoning changes in Ballston, he added, “restrict development” to Route 50 and prohibit the construction of structures that are more than two stories tall. He added that town officials are quite discerning about the types of businesses they approve.
“At one time, we were described as the fastest-growing town in New York state,” Goslin said. “That’s not a designation that we like when our Comprehensive Plan says ‘rural character.’”
He said the Saratoga County Economic Development Corporation provided an analysis finding that fewer than 50 of more than 300 acres along Route 50 were developable, due to wetlands issues.
In conclusion, Goslin said: “The introduction of sewer will promote economic development because respected businesses will not have to invest extra funds or extra space for septic systems. The town has already placed limitations on development, and we’ll continue to develop the standards for the remaining Route 50 parcels to provide the desired community services.”
*Due to an editing error, this sentence was omitted from printed versions of Saratoga TODAY.
The Eagle Matt Lee fire station on Washington Street and Union Fire Company on Milton Avenue in Ballston Spa. Photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
BALLSTON SPA – A recent audit by state officials revealed a number of violations in the village’s two firehouses, which are operated entirely by volunteers on an annual budget of about $200,000.
On Monday, Chief Officer Bill Lewis explained to Mayor John Romano and the village trustees that inspectors from the Public Employee Safety and Health (PESH) division of the New York State Department of Labor found 36 “relatively small” violations in the operation of Eagle Matt Lee and Union Fire Company.
Lewis said that type of PESH audit had not been completed in the village for more than 30 years; and that he, First Assistant Michael Bashore and others in the fire department are “ahead of the game” in correcting the violations within the required time frames.
An "unfounded" complaint prompted the state inspection, he added.*
Cullen Burnell, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor (DOL), confirmed in an email that two separate inspections were initiated in Ballston Spa and that one is complete while the other is ongoing.
"Generally speaking, PESH will conduct unannounced inspections on a random, but regular, basis," Burnell said. "An abatement period is set for the employers to come into compliance. If the employer does not comply during the abatement period, DOL can impose a penalty. The penalty, a maximum of $200 per day, accumulates until compliance is achieved."**
The most notable violations, Lewis said, include hepatitis shots for the department’s 139 volunteer members and proper training in a “bailout system” for firefighters who enter taller structures.
Lewis said that nearly 40 firefighters have signed up to receive the hepatitis shots, while many others have opted to sign forms declining them.
He informed village board members that a company in Pennsylvania could provide the required bailout training to 10 members of the department (five from each firehouse) at a cost of roughly $5,000. Those 10 individuals then could train all other members of the village fire department.
In light of recent budget problems being discussed by Romano and the trustees, Lewis also noted how the efforts of so many volunteer firefighters every year are saving Ballston Spa large sums of money.
He estimated the annual cost of operating Eagle Matt Lee and Union Fire Company, as a fully funded municipal fire department, at between $4 million and $6 million.
Prior to the presentation by Lewis, Trustee Noah Shaw prompted a long discussion about the village’s budget problems. He criticized how more than $2,000 would be spent on a 75-inch television for the Union firehouse to be used for “training” purposes, as stated in the meeting agenda.
Among other measures, Shaw proposed three related resolutions: one involving the village board’s approval of any expense over $2,500; the second for detailed explanations of expenses by village employees; and a third measure that would require Village Treasurer Christopher Hickey to be present at all board meetings.
But Shaw encountered resistance from Romano and Trustees Robert Cavanaugh and Stuart Hodsoll—and even members of the public in attendance.
Local resident Frank Rossi called Shaw’s proposals an attempt at “micromanagement” and part of “a grandiose plan to save the place.”
“In the end, it’s our responsibility to keep the village afloat,” Shaw responded. “We can adjust as we go along.”
*Due to an editing error, this sentence was omitted from printed versions of Saratoga TODAY.
**The information was provided after a deadline had passed for inclusion in printed versions.
(Left to right) Bruce and Tom Boghosian at Milton Town Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
MILTON – A proposal to build two residential buildings with 16 units each off Rowland Street, north of the Hannaford shopping plaza, received a final approval Wednesday from the Milton Planning Board.
The three-story structures, named Hilo LLC by Boghosian Bros Construction and Development in Saratoga Springs, will offer a total of 32 units and ample parking for residents. The first level of both buildings will contain parking spaces.
“This will be fantastic,” offered Tom Boghosian after the unanimous planning board vote. He said construction is expected to start this summer, noting how the plans call for an extension of Trieble Avenue past Mavis Discount Tire as well as one new access road off Rowland Street.
Boghosian said the Hilo condominiums will offer “a style of living that you see in Saratoga” at “a greatly reduced cost.”
He also noted how a grocery store, medical office and other businesses in the immediate surrounding area would offer Hilo residents plenty of opportunities to walk rather than drive.
Boghosian and his brother Bruce have developed several other projects near Milton town center, including part of the Hannaford plaza and a 20-unit condominium complex at the corner of Geyser Road and Greenfield Avenue.
During a brief public hearing before the Feb. 14 vote, town resident Jim Staulters—who often attends public meetings and serves on town boards—claimed that the three-story Hilo structures would not “conform” to certain town codes; and that the project would fundamentally alter “the pearl of town center” along Rowland Street.
There also was a brief discussion among planning board members that sidewalks should be included on the north side of the Hilo building that would be situated farthest north.
Front photo: The amazing samples at Next Door Kitchen and Bar. In photo gallery (left to right): Jessicakes owner Jessica Mayette in Two if by Sea Gallery; and multiple scenes from the Ballston Spa Chocolate Festival on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. Photos by www.photoandgraphic.com. Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association Executive Administrator Ellen Mottola and Wonky Studio and Gallery owner Matt Belskis; chocolate samples delivered to the judges' table by "runners"; and BSBPA President Stacy Simmons, Glenn Kopris, Trustee Noah Shaw, Victor DelNegro, "First Friday fanatic" Lanie, and Bill and Ellen Mottola. Photos by Larry Goodwin.
BALLSTON SPA – The lure of so many delectable chocolate treats being doled out by their makers on a Friday night, with Valentine’s Day in sight, definitely attracts hundreds of people to this village.
As part of a “First Friday” series supported every month by a diverse mix of village business owners, the Ballston Spa Chocolate Festival has raised awareness for five years now about some of the most mindful chocolate “chefs” in the area.
With the aid of social media, the sweet samples that chefs share at this fun annual contest (for $1) have grown fast in popularity.
Perhaps the richest story, though, is the steady role played by the women and men of the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association (BSBPA), who happily organized the Feb. 2 “Chocolate Fest” ahead of their group’s 35th anniversary next month.
“We’re kind of like the Brooklyn to Saratoga’s Manhattan,” observed BSBPA Executive Administrator Ellen Mottola, who enjoyed Chocolate Fest with her husband Bill and the four other contest judges inside Creative Endeavors at 49 Front Street. “Each year it gets a little bigger,” she added.
A total of 21 Ballston Spa businesses took part in this year’s event, hosting the chefs and allowing throngs of contented kids and adults to escape frigid temperatures and wait in long lines for various chocolate samples.
The Candle Collective at 20 Prospect Street, which hosted Lucy’s Cupcake Corner, occupies space in one of several renovated brick structures that some village residents fondly remember as the Chocolate Factory.
Most of the participating businesses are located in the heart of the village, on Milton Avenue (Route 50) and Front Street, so Chocolate Fest tends to inundate sidewalks and streets with pedestrians. That, in turn, causes traffic issues for nearly three hours.
Still, the festival’s overall popularity seems to be growing—much like the 35-year-old “Chowderfest” in Saratoga Springs, which was held the next day.
“I’ve been a busy lady,” reported Jessicakes owner Jessica Mayette, as she took advantage of a break in arrivals at about 7 p.m. last Friday to replenish a table adorned with her cute miniature cupcakes.
Mayette made chocolate truffles, too, and her efforts had paid off by Monday when her treats won in the “dessert” category, according to the judges.
The BSBPA noted that the other contest winners were a “chocolate pulled pork with slaw” in the “savory” category, made by Sweeney’s; assorted desserts by Grandma Apple’s Cheesecakes; and alcoholic shots with Oreo cookies in the “beverage” category, made by Henry’s Tavern at 19 Front Street.
The Jessicakes samples were found in two Milton Avenue businesses: Corina Contemporary Jewelry and Fine Crafts and Two if by Sea Gallery. They are owned separately but happen to be connected by an unusual doorway through the wall.
Mayette, before she had joked with a man holding two Coffee Planet cups if one was hers, explained that she prepared for Chocolate Fest until the early morning hours. “I’m tired,” she said, returning only seconds later to her table for more smiles and pleasant conversation.
Vicki Brignati, owner of Alexander’s Bakery, had stacked her 400-plus samples neatly in containers near the front window of A Bead Just So across the street. Her son Owen provided loving assistance along with her sister and business partner, Kristen Poulin.
While Brignati was busy greeting chocolate lovers and serving her cupcakes (complete with little hearts), Poulin emphasized the importance of products that are safe for the many people who struggle to manage food allergies.
“She’s an excellent baker,” Poulin said.
“The town was packed. The people were out and about, and they had a great time,” concluded Matt Belskis, owner of Wonky Studio and Gallery at 20 Washington Street. He hosted the chef from Adirondack Barkery, who sampled products for pets.
This week, Belskis was proud to host his first BSBPA Networking Breakfast, which the group organizes every month at different village businesses. More than 20 people seemed delighted to eat and mingle Tuesday morning in his Wonky Studio space.
The walls there display colorful drawings and paintings of local artists. Belskis, who recently joined the BSBPA, said he produced and handed out hundreds of black-and-white Chocolate Fest flyers, and that he encouraged children to color them.
“The one thing I’m about here is getting the kids off of computers and phones,” he admitted.
Belskis said his brother, John, has owned Excellent Adventures Comics at 110 Milton Avenue for 21 years.
(Belskis also made a point of noting how they both support a special benefit planned for Sunday, March 18, called the Albany Comic and Toy Show. The goal is to raise funds for a devoted comic fan named Justin Goldsmith, who suffers from cystic fibrosis and is in dire need of a lung transplant.)
Graphic designer Joel A. Glastetter, owner of SillyCar Design, attended the breakfast and praised the BSBPA for revitalizing business opportunities in Ballston Spa.
At present, Glastetter said, he works out of his home but is contemplating the rental of office space in the village (he and this writer graduated in the same Ballston Spa High School class).
Mottola, the BSBPA’s only paid staff member, has served as administrator since 2004. She organizes most of the networking breakfasts, while a group of five local women are the main decision-making officers. Another nine men and women comprise the BSBPA board of directors.
Small fees are paid at each network event. Also, Mottola explained, there are about 270 members of the BSBPA, paying three levels of annual dues: $150 for businesses; $50 for nonprofits; and $25 for residents.
Since the BSBPA was founded in 1983, according to President Stacy Simmons, successive officers and board members have ensured the group’s longevity. “They really laid a lot of beautiful groundwork for us,” Simmons said of her predecessors.
Members of the BSBPA are preparing next for a special anniversary Community Mixer and Annual Meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, March 19 at the Next Door Kitchen and Bar at 51 Front Street.
Mottola says the BSBPA is “constantly an evolving organization” that wants people to experience “the whole community.”
Younger entrepreneurs, she added, seem to view Ballston Spa as more favorable to starting a business because they consider Saratoga Springs to be “out of reach.”
“That’s an exciting thing to be a part of,” Mottola said.
For more information, visit the website https://www.ballston.org.
An aerial view of Gailor Road and Tawny Terrace in Wilton. Photo by www.photoandgraphic.com.
WILTON – On the first night of February, the Wilton Town Board unanimously approved the establishment of a special taxing district for a proposed housing subdivision south of Gailor Road, moving the project one step closer to actual construction.
Ryan Riper, the town’s director of engineering and planning, said he expects the Canyon Run Extension site plan to be presented at the Wilton Planning Board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 21, for a final vote of approval.
The Queensbury-based developer Daniel Galusha and Sons will install drainage infrastructure and a new town road. Galusha then plans to start building 44 new homes, which will be located just west of the Adirondack Northway’s southbound lanes and across Gailor Road from existing homes on Tawny Terrace and Dakota Drive.
Normally, Riper explained, subdivision plans proceed through three formal stages: conceptual, preliminary and final.
A fourth stage—the town board’s approval of a new taxing district—was required for the Canyon Run Extension proposal to advance.
The Feb. 1 vote followed two years of drawn-out negotiations between town officials and Joe Dannible of the Environmental Design Partnership, who assists Galusha in preparing his site plans.
The inclusion of adequate storm water drainage in the affected area was one of several matters discussed.
Riper said that only the new homeowners in Canyon Run Extension will pay a $42 annual fee for the drainage district as part of their property tax bills.
After last week’s vote, longtime Wilton Planning Board Chairman Michael Dobis offered that he views the Canyon Run Extension project in the context of a recent upswing in local development.
Progress seemed to stall in Wilton when the “building boom died” in the late 2000s, Dobis noted. “Over the last three years, things have really started picking up in the area,” he added.
Dobis said he is used to the “dirty looks” he observes among both local residents and fellow board members, whenever subdivision projects make their way through the approval process.
Dobis said his role, as the planning board chair, is to ensure that board members and local residents are equally “educated” and heard in regards to each specific proposal.
“We’re here for the public. I have no problem if people ask reasonable questions,” Dobis said. “We want to make sure we get this right, and that there’s nothing left to chance.”
Director of Planning Jamie O’Neill (left) and Acting Director of Parks, Recreation and Human Services Alyssa Benway after the Malta Town Board meeting on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. Photo by Larry Goodwin.
MALTA – On Monday, town leaders expressed optimism as they officially approved the appointment of a new planning director. They also sought advice from both her and the acting director of the recreation department, regarding a perceived need for a new town engineer.
The Malta Town Board voted unanimously in favor of appointing Director of Planning Jamie O’Neill, who has 16 years of related experience in Saratoga County.
Councilman Tim Dunn indicated that O’Neill is recognized statewide for her knowledge of open space and agricultural matters as they relate to planning processes.
“We were very happy and fortunate to get Jamie,” Supervisor Vince DeLucia said, noting how the planning department has been disrupted in recent months by unexpected staff vacancies. A planning position remains open and needs to be filled, he added.
Yet, instead of more planners, Councilman John Hartzell opined that Malta should consider hiring an in-house engineer as a means to save money. The town now pays consulting fees for staff engineers at the Chazen Companies who are based in Troy.
DeLucia, after inviting comments from O’Neill, agreed with her assessment that engineers and planners specialize in “two very difference disciplines.”
The supervisor also invited comments from Alyssa Benway, who was appointed as Malta’s Acting Director of Parks, Recreation and Human Services late last year after the retirement of Audrey Ball.
Benway has an engineering background following her education at Clarkson University.
Dunn made it clear that he opposes creating a new position for a town engineer in Malta, as neighboring towns have done, because he is “not comfortable doing this outside of the budget process” later this year.
For his part, Malta Comptroller Kevin King recommended that board members must always consider the unpredictable budget impacts of fees paid by local builders.
“The big variable is just development,” King said. “It’s volatile. It’s based on the economy.”