Minutes May 12, 2015

Southwest Neighborhood Association of Saratoga Springs
Minutes – Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Meeting was held in the conference room at Saratoga Eagle in Grande Industrial Park.

SWNA officers’ introductions and reports:
President – Molly Gagné opened the meeting at 7:00 PM, noting presence of some new attendees and introducing SSPD representative.
Vice President – Candyce Robenstein had no new items to report.
Treasurer – Dave Lauzon reported SWNA bank balances as of 5/12/15 as follows:
General funds (checking acc’t) – $3,028.80; Geyser Trail earmarked funds – $12,651.72; for a total of $15,680.52.

Corresponding Secretary – Margaret Prough sent ‘thank you’ letters to: Albert Pickens/Geyser Road Elementary School for his Geyser Road Orchard project and presentation; Benjamin Weber for his community volunteerism in taking on the Geyser Road spring litter clean-up from Hayes Road to Rte 50; and the Weber Family for joining their son in this 8.5 hr, two day task. In appreciation, Molly then awarded the Weber family, who were present, with one year’s honorary SWNA membership and a gift certificate for Primo Pizzeria.
Recording Secretary – Karen Villesvik was present. The 3/9/15 meeting minutes were accepted by members.

Police Report – Lt.Sean Briscoe, SSPD community policing representative, reported that the neighborhood has been “pretty quiet” with only isolated and/or domestic incidents. He discussed recent larcenies from parked vehicles in Evergreen Pointe, reminding us that these crimes generally remain unsolved and that all residents should “lock up at night” and not leave phones, wallets, handbags, etc., visible in their vehicles.
“See something/say something”, and report without delay any suspicious or abnormal activities to 911 or the Saratoga P.D. number (584 -1800). For any ongoing issues not needing immediate response ask for Lt. Briscoe.
Lt. Briscoe said that to better inform the public of police concerns, the PD is using social media, including the SSPD Facebook page, NIXLE.com, and a brand new smart phone app called MYPD, which is an App Store freebie (chose state and city when downloading this app).
He also informed us that there is an upswing in Saratoga of the nationwide heroin use epidemic, with this drug becoming cheap, pervasive and used by teens and others in lieu of more expensive prescription opiates. He reminded us of the 24/7 drop box for disposal of unwanted prescription drugs in the downtown police station and encouraged its use as a way to keep these drugs off the streets. He responded to questions about the dangers of ‘synthetic pot’ and powdered alcohol, and about the former D.A.R.E. program (substance abuse education is currently part of public school instruction).

Neighborhood Watch – Rob Gatt reported that there are 5 watch zones currently functioning with zone leaders. The SW Watch is using Facebook and a Twitter feed for communication of incidents, and the watch performed as planned in informing residents of the recent Evergreen Pointe larcenies. Email contact: swnwatch@yahoo.com

Comprehensive Plan – Devin DalPos informed us that 6 of the 13 Comprehensive Plan committee members, including himself, have recused themselves due to their frustrations and disagreements over the process, with special interest lobbying and excessive amendments delaying finalization of the plan. A preliminary document was agreed upon in November 2014, but there have been four public hearings since with special interest parties proposing many added amendments – there are 53 unresolved amendments, and at least one more public hearing to be held. Devin and others felt that some of these issues would be better dealt with by Zoning and Code. There were also some concerns over language legalities in the document. Devin explained that the new Comprehensive Plan has to pass the committee with a 10/3 or 9/4 majority vote. Once the plan is completed, it will be sent to county planning for review, then back to city council for approval. Of particular and continued concern to SWNA is the current vague wording on the parking of boats, RV’s and storage trailers in front yards and obstructing sightlines: such parking/storage is no longer “prohibited” but left open to “inspection”. It was agreed that SWNA will communicate our concerns in writing to Mayor Yepsen.

Old Business
• The Geyser Orchard a success; Paul Safran noted that many volunteers helped with fencing and planting.
• Geyser School has thanked SWNA for helping promote their green fiber collection fundraiser. The school gets $25/ton, and this year funds increased from ~ $100 to ~ $600. Green dumpsters are located at rear of school.
• Liz Igler reported that the Neighborhood Garage Sale scheduled for 5/16/15, had 31 participants signed up, with more expected. Invitational flyers were hung on mailboxes throughout the Crest, official sale signs were printed on green card stock, and event being promoted via Facebook garage sale post.
• Liz maintains the SWNA Facebook page, and material is reviewed before being posted.

• Candyce reported on Milton’s continuing Geyser Road project – Bast Hatfield is constructing the curbs, sidewalks and landscaping, to be completed by summer end.
• As part of the city’s Centennial Trees project, it was approved to propose a tree planting for the Veteran Memorial area at west end of Geyser Park. With 3 or 4 volunteers to help plant, the cost is $200 for 1 tree, with a matching tree provided at no cost; the cost rises to $400-$500 with hired planter. (See Guest Speaker below for additional information on this subject.)

New Business
• Molly brought the annual “curb appeal awards” for members to give to neighbors who have made noticeable efforts to beautify their yards/landscaping. This year the awards were potted marigolds.
• Dave Lauzon collected soil samples from members; he will call with the Ph test results. For additional soil queries, he can be reached at 698-3759. He also handed out lawn care flyers from Cornell Cooperative Extension.
• Discussed was a 5 ton weight limit proposal for Adams Road to prevent further degradation of the road and to ensure safety of pedestrians and local traffic. Concerns include frequent use by large/heavy trucks from Saratoga Eagle and the nearby quarries, and by Saratoga school buses shortcutting through to the depot. Paul Safran noted that GPS directs traffic to Adams Rd with no limits as a through route from Rowland St. to Geyser Rd/Rte 50 – but within a year this should be amended to prohibit heavy trucks. Steve DiLoretto from Ball initiated the proposal, and Commissioner Mattheisen was sent a letter outlining the concerns. Because 25% of Adams Rd is in Milton, Superintendent Lewza needs to be part of the discussion to ensure conformity.

Guest Speaker
Commissioner Skip Scirocco, Department of Public Works, Saratoga Springs

Commissioner Scirocco covered many relevant issues:
• The city property on Hathorne fronting the well field station from the basketball courts to Quevic is on schedule for repair and maintenance – DPW is a little behind schedule this spring due to the rough winter.
• As public property, the Hathorn basketball courts can be used for public events, such as a bicycle safety rally.
• There is a swing set and slide available from a former city recreation area that can be placed at the back of the courts; SWNA had no objections.
• The well fields serve the entire city. Since the 2009 system upgrade, which modernized the pump system and ensured proper chlorine disinfection of water supplies, water pumped from the wells now flows both ways. When Geyser Crest demand is low, a special valve system allows the well water to flow to the city to augment the Loughberry Lake supply, and vice versa. There is a generator for pumping during power outages and an upgraded filter system. Four wells have recently been drilled in the Bog Meadows aquifer.
• Posting of yard sale and other signs on city road signage and telephone poles is prohibited. Commercial signs stuck along roads and streets are also illegal. Any violations should be called into Code Enforcement.
• The overpaving at the corner of Vichy Dr. and Skidmore Dr. and on Hathorn Blvd. was done many years ago by DPW and created an eyesore. Commissioner Scirocco said it will be addressed.
• Residents should inform DPW of any trouble areas and ideas for road paving/repairs.
• In order to avoid water bill issues due to estimated meter readings, especially during winters when reader access is not always possible, call DPW to request installation of the new radio-read meters.

Commissioner Scirocco responded to questions with the following information:
• As of May 15th, yard debris must be containerized for DPW pickup.
• Update on the $2.6 million Ballston Avenue/Rte 50 road improvement project: The first phase was scheduled from March through the end of June, 2015. At that point two lanes will reopen till September, with a new light at the Lincoln Ave intersection. The final phase will continue from September to completion. A map of the area involved was available for viewing.
• The city does not treat its water for hardness, only chlorination and fluoridation.
• The bike rack that was by the Veterans Park tennis courts will be replaced. One will be remain at the ballpark
• If residents would like a tree planted along their property’s city variance, they should provide DPW with their name, address and phone number. The trees are from the city nursery; no out-of-pocket cost to residents.

Commissioner Scirocco concluded his presentation by generously offering to provide the Centennial Trees Project planting at the Veteran’s Memorial Park at no cost to SWNA (and no labor)! He will review the site and submit the proposal.

Meeting adjourned at 8:50 PM. Next meeting will be held at Saratoga Eagle on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, at 7 PM.

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