Minutes May 3, 2016

Southwest Neighborhood Association of Saratoga Springs
Meeting Minutes – Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The meeting was held in the Saratoga Eagle community room in Grande Industrial Park, with John ‘Jack’ Donnelly of Code Enforcement, and Lt. Shane Crooks of Saratoga Springs Police Department attending as invited guests.

SWNA officers’ introductions and reports

President – Molly Gagné opened the meeting at 7:04 PM. She mentioned that Sophia Anzaroot was present with Girl Scout Cookies available for purchase. She also introduced the SWNA officers to new members in attendance, and reported that SWNA had given a floral bouquet to Ball Corporation as “thanks” for last meeting’s plant tour.
Vice President – Candyce Robenstein presented the treasurer’s report for Dave Lauzon, who was absent.
Treasurer – Dave Lauzon (absent but filed the following with Candyce):
General funds (checking acc’t) – $3475.23; Geyser Road Trail earmarked funds – $13,158.09; Total of $16,633.32
The change in general funds account reflects deposit of annual dues collected from members.
Corresponding Secretary – Margaret Prough reported she sent a thank you letter to Steve Diloreto of Ball Corporation for hosting the plant tour and for the company’s recent $500 gift to the Geyser Road Trail funds.
Recording Secretary – Karen Villesvik asked attendees for approval of the 3/8/16 meeting minutes: accepted.

Police Report – Lt. Shane Crooks reported that the neighborhood has been “quiet” with usual emergency, domestic, etc. service calls. The last larceny from parked cars was 2 -3 months ago. He warned members of an increase in credit card fraud/ID theft across town, both by hackers and by ‘skimmers’ inserted in ATM’s, gas pumps, etc. Lt. Crooks reported that there is a new code enforcement law requiring safe, locked storage of firearms, with free gun locks currently available at police station. The Adams Road 5-ton weight limit is now in place. Due to dry conditions, open burning remains illegal – no fire pits or garbage incineration until conditions improve – and a call will result in the fire department coming to extinguish any open fire. There was discussion of city’s curfew law for minors: those under 18 years are prohibited in public areas from 12 – 6 AM unless accompanied by an adult or enroute to or from a workplace.
Neighborhood Watch – Rob Gatt reported that zones 2, 4, 5, 7 & 10 still need leaders, who inform zone members of incidents. He provided a signup sheet for watch members or leaders. Email him to request a map of the Watch Zones. Email contact: swnawatch@yahoo.com

Old Business

• Geyser Road Veteran’s Park–Russ Lehr reported the flower planting around the Memorial will be soon completed and that new MIA/POW and US flags are needed, at a cost of $27 for the former. He noted that the Rec Field is responsible for the 2 U.S. flags that fly in the field, and that Public Safety had put up ‘No Parking’ signs to protect the memorial grass with some violations continuing during sports events.
• Safe Routes to School project–Molly reported that there has been no response from city officials to queries re the progress in the eminent domain proceedings for the uncompleted segment of the sidewalk.
• Adopt-a-Roadside–The County picks up collected bags of roadside litter; participants are always welcome to pick up debris. Contact Molly for orange county litter bags and pick – up grabbers.
• DPW Reminders–Effective 5/15/16 all yard debris must be in containers or paper leaf bags. Hydrant flushing will begin soon in the southwest neighborhood.

New Business

• Neighborhood Garage Sale – Will take place 9 AM – 3PM, Saturday 5/21 and Sund the Geyser-Milton Report paper, and orange flyers posted around community. Geyser Road businesses have been informed in case they want to coordinate specials with the sale. Liz will make signs for posting on street corners and for each house along with handouts listing all participants’ addresses. Contact Liz at lizigler@yahoo.com or 369-6490.
• Geyser Road Trail construction plans – There will be an important community meeting with Mayor Yepsen, the Planning Office and Greenman-Pederson Engineering representatives regarding the trail on Thursday, 6/2/16 at 7 PM in the Geyser School cafeteria. The meeting will include a construction timeline, mapping and other details. All are encouraged to attend to ask questions and voice support for the trail’s construction.
• Geyser Crest Sand Dune – Matt Veitch and Molly Gagné spoke with the County and Beaver Pond development officials about the proposed signage for the dune. Annie Anzaroot volunteered to coordinate the creation of an interpretative dune sign as part of her grant writing college project. Blue Lupine and Little Bluestem Grass seeds were donated by David Lee/Saratoga Tree Nursery and DEC. They were planted to help restore native flora and attract the Karner Blue butterfly to the site. Because of lobbying by SWNA, the Geyser Road sand dune is under supervision of NY DEC as a land trust to be forever protected.
• Sponsor a street tree – Contact trees@sustainablesaratoga.org if interested in a street-side tree planting this fall along one’s property.
Bikeatoga – Donate unused bikes whether working or not to Bikeatoga instead of trashing them. The bike
workshop is located in St. Peters Church basement. For a few hours of workshop time, a free rehabbed bike
can be earned by anyone along with learning about repair and maintenance. Contact Doug at 577-0286, or
visit the website www.bikeatoga.org .
• Backstretch donations – The free-store for Saratoga Race Track backstretch workers is always in need of donated jackets, jeans, t-shirts, clothing, boots, sneakers, toiletries etc. Donations can be brought to the basement of the Nolan House next to the Presbyterian Church on Circular Street from 11 AM – 1;30 PM on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, or call Marsha at 469-2661 for more information.

Guest Speaker

John ‘Jack’ Donnelly, Public Safety Department, Office of Code Enforcement

Jack Donnelly, (completing his first year with the city’s Code Enforcement on 6/8/16) covered many code issues relevant to our neighborhood, including vacant structures A/K/A ‘zombie properties’, parking regulations, swimming pool maintenance, the fireworks law, roadside household discards, permit/zoning guidelines, and setback rules. Molly requested that attendees ask general questions, not naming specific addresses at the meeting, and provided forms that could be handed in to Jack to report specific problems in detail. Jack responded to many questions from attendees, and confirmed information shared by Candyce Robenstein who is a realtor. Candy said that code violations have a very negative impact on nearby property values, with poorly maintained homes, yards and driveways and nuisance pets and pet hoarding high on the list of devaluing issues. SWNA’s history of attention to such violations have made a difference but there are still problems to be resolved. In response to concerns of privacy of informants, Jack said that there is anonymity of anyone reporting violations or problems unless and until the issue goes to court or legal action.

Jack mentioned the derelict property on Hathorn Blvd. A demolition permit is in place for the condemned house. He discussed at length the problem of vacant properties falling into disrepair and new tougher legislation developed by SUNY Albany code law interns which should be an effective city tool in enforcing maintenance of such homes by the banks and absentee owners. As it is, banks must wait 7 years to dispose of foreclosed homes, and cities must wait 3 years to pursue unpaid property taxes, with many difficulties in identifying the title holders versus the lien holders of these ‘zombie properties’.

Some code specifics covered by Jack were: a new city code being worked on prohibiting parking of motor homes, boats, trailers on property fronts or sides and parking of unregistered, nonplated, nonworking vehicles on property fronts, sides, or rear; the grass height law (must not exceed 10 inches); pools require permits and grounded outlets, with a 4 foot barrier/fencing required for water over 24” deep; setback or right of way is 10 feet from edge of street; any structure of more than 12’ X 12’ footprint requires a building permit, with zoning approval required for construction within setbacks.

Jack told us that the city has a Vacant Structure Registry and encouraged residents to report any such properties to him, by email or by phone. He seems very committed to tackling the vacant property dilemma and other property devaluing code violations in Saratoga Springs, and reiterated that the community needs to speak out and communicate concerns to Code Enforcement in a collaborative approach. ( handouts with city department contact information were provided) Jack’s presentation was very friendly and informative, and well-received by all in attendance.

The meeting adjourned at 8:42 PM.
Next meeting will be held at Saratoga Eagle on Monday, September 12, 2016, at 7 PM.
• ay 5/22, with member Liz Igler organizing this event. She reported 65 current sign-ups, doubled from last year’s 34, with a projection of 70-75 by 5/20 deadline. Advertising is being done via Facebook,

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