Minutes March 22, 2017

Southwest Neighborhood Association of Saratoga Springs
Minutes – Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Meeting held at Saratoga Eagle community room.
President – Molly Gagné – meeting opened at 7:02pm and commented on the great turnout. She noted the attendance of Saratoga County Supervisor Peter Martin and Jeff Vukelic, President of Saratoga Eagle. A reminder – the official SWNA “welcome” letter for new neighbors was mailed to every member to reprint and distribute to welcome new neighbors.
Vice President – Candyce Robenstein – no report.
Treasurer – Dave Lauzon reported the following financial data:
General funds (checking acc’t) – $3,681.07; Geyser Road Trail earmarked funds – $13,161.38;
Total of $16,842.45
The total income of $1,286.49 was from dues, donations and interest. Expenses of $411.93 were for stamps, copies and Veteran’s Park landscaping supplies.
Corresponding Secretary – Margaret Prough sent a thank you letter to Commissioner Scirocco for his presentation at the 11/10/16 meeting.
Recording Secretary – Karen Villesvik asked attendees for approval of the 11/10/16 meeting minutes: accepted.

Member Paul Safran commented that since SWNA bylaws state that meetings are bimonthly, an amendment would be needed to reflect current reduced meeting schedule, in order to safeguard the non-profit status. This was agreed upon.

Dan Forbush, Pitney Meadows Community Farm, Inc.

Dan Forbush gave a history of the Pitney Farm. Established in 1862, the farm consists of 90 tillable and 36 wooded and wetland acres.
It was the Pitney family’s desire that the property be kept a working farm. On 12/15/16 the newly formed NPO Pitney Meadows Community Farm, Inc. acquired the property in perpetuity, to be used for agriculture, recreation, education, etc. The project has been funded through donations, grants, the city of Saratoga Springs and a bank loan; fundraising is ongoing.
Sandy and Paul Arnold lead the project. There are many plans for the farm’s future including community garden plots. The farm will eventually be accessible via the city’s trail system to the Geyser Trail.
Complete information is available at www.pitneymeadowscommunityfarm.org

Community Policing – Officer Glenn Barrett – formerly a mounted patrol officer until the retirement of Jupiter, he complimented SWNA on its longstanding community involvement. He informed us that the construction of the Geyser Trail will enable the police department to easily expand its bike patrols to the Geyser Road neighborhoods. He gave a report of “activity” in the sw neighborhood. Traffic stops, a larceny, a burglary and a recent armed robbery at the Adirondack Trust on Rte 50 / Northline Road.
The police non-emergency number is 584-1800 (option 2) and the anonymous tip line is 584-TIPS (8477). Officer Barrett said that calls to the police can be instrumental in stopping violators.
Discussion – What are signs of a ‘drug house’ and problems with vandalism.

Public Safety Dept. – Code Officer Jack Donnelly reported that code officer Dan Cogan is retiring. Public Safety plans to hire 2 code technicians using grant funds. “Vacant structure” enforcement focused on Geyser Crest, Interlaken and downtown. Numbers were provided of vacant houses in city and in sw neighborhood. Also, a significant number of houses have been returned to “occupied” status.
Finding banks currently holding “zombie properties” can be difficult. Code officers go after banks via deed searches, F.O.I.L. and Attorney General’s office. Progress is being made. Members should call the NYS hotline to report vacant properties and call Code Enforcement with any concerns. Don’t assume others have called.
The NYS vacant property hotline is 800-342-3736.
Code Enforcement – phone 587-3550 X 2634.

Old Business

• Hazardous Waste Collection– DPW will announce event planned for fall.
• Adopt-a-Roadside – Ball Corporation and SWNA are coordinating roadside cleanup of Adams and Geyser Roads. Ball has invited SWNA volunteers for lunch afterward at the plant. Molly will be accepting signups for the 4/14/17 litter cleanup, and RSVP’s for the lunch at Ball Corp.
• Neighborhood Garage Sale – May 19 – 21, 2017. Organizer Liz Igler can be reached at Lizigler@yahoo.com. Participants should make a donation for cost of signage and promotion.
• Charter Review Commission – SWNA and Commission member Devin DalPos reported the commission has analyzed other city charters, pros and cons of governing structures, and surveys of focus groups. It proposes a change to a council-city manager form of government. A public forum will be held on 3/29/17. For information, go to www.saratogacharter.com.

New Business

• Landscaping volunteers – DPW will provide plants and materials if neighborhood volunteers want to beautify the corner plot at Hathorn and Quevic, or any other neighborhood entry point. Last year DPW did not maintain this plot as it had traditionally done.
• Sustainable Saratoga– Sustainable Saratoga has planned “Treetoga”, an urban forestry project, for 4/29/17, with street tree plantings throughout the city. The trees are free and volunteers are needed to host, plant and water the new trees. Visit www.sustainablesaratoga.org

Guest Speaker – Mayor Joanne Yepsen

Mayor Yepsen complimented SWNA on its activism and successful projects over the years. She holds “walk-in” office hours on Fridays. Phone calls and questions are always welcome. The Charter Review Commission, required by law every 10 years, was appointed to ensure diverse and inclusive representation on the current committee. Former SWNA president and member Devin DalPos is a member of the Charter Commission.

The mayor addressed the Geyser Trail project, assuring attendees that “it’s happening!” The trail has been deemed an “absolutely safe” project. The trail has federal and state grants in place to fund construction. Hopefully, RFP for bids will go out in April, with groundbreaking by summer.
It was noted that there’s a 3/31 deadline for tree-cutting. The city has contacted Mayor Romano regarding limited tree-cutting on a short segment of land owned by Ballston Spa; efforts to resolve this issue will continue. One Geyser Rd. business has concerns about the trail.
There is overwhelming support from residents, business members, organizations and government entities for the Geyser Trail. All agree it will benefit the neighborhood, the city and Milton. Mayor Yepsen mentioned the Munters, Steve DiLoreto and others of Grande Industrial Park, and Upstate Distillery and Artisan Brew Works as strongly pro-trail. She encouraged using public forums in the press and media to inform the greater community of the need and desirability for the trail.
The uncompleted Safe Routes to School sidewalk – Mayor Yepsen reported that the eminent domain proceeding is currently in County Court. The mayor reported that the ability to use eminent domain has been approved unanimously by city council. A question was posed regarding putting in a much- needed crosswalk at Hayes Drive and Geyser Road.
A copy of the ongoing online petition supporting the Geyser Trail was presented.
Mayor Yepsen said that, in conjunction with the Unified Development Ordinance, suggestions from residents regarding changes to the city Code can be emailed to joanne.yepsen@saratoga-springs.org . Mayor Yepsen was thanked for her ongoing support for the Geyser Trail.

In closing, host Jeff Vukelic was thanked for SWNA’s use of the Saratoga Eagle community room. Next meeting will be held at Saratoga Eagle on May 9, 2017, at 7 PM.
The meeting adjourned at 8:46PM.

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