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Welcome to the City Desk, your one stop for all the political news affecting Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County.

Monday, April 14

"Nuts!"

Matt Doheny said he's going to keep on keepin' on, regardless of whether the Conservative Party chair likes it or not.

Statement from Matt Doheny 21st Congressional Candidate on Chairman Long's Call for Surrender

Matt Doheny proudly carried the Conservative Party banner in 2012,  is endorsed by five county committees and in 2014 one of every five conservatives throughout the district signed his petition. Matt is a true conservative philosophically, on the issues and most importantly in the hearts and minds of the people of the North Country. 

Last Friday, after thwarting the will of rank and file conservatives throughout the North Country, State Conservative Chairman Mike Long told the Glens Falls Post Star that "They’d rather see Mr. Doheny not run, so there’s a better chance of winning the general election."  

Essentially, Long on behalf of the Washington insiders who want to control this seat, was asking Doheny to surrender - to which we offer the following reply:

 "To Chairman Mike Long: Nuts! North Country Conservative, Matt Doheny."

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Tuesday, April 8

Police identify woman who fell from Stonequist Apartments

Police confirmed that the woman who fell to her death from the sixth floor of Stonequist Apartments Friday night was Robin Lee Schelmbauer, 48. She lived in Stonequist.

Saratoga Springs Police Lt. Robert Jillson said preliminary medical examinations offer no indication of foul play and he said there is nothing suspicious about the death. He would not say immediately whether the police suspected the death was suicide or an accident.

The police blotter entry for the incident, however, indicates police were called to Stonequist for a "suicide attempt."

Her obituary was submitted to The Saratogian today:

Robin Lee Schelmbauer of Stone Quest Apartments passed away on April 5, 2014 at her home. She was 48. Born on October 27, 1965 in Ballston Spa, NY she was the daughter of Patricia Stanton.
She is predeceased by her grandparents William and Bernice Howard. Survivors include her mother and step father, Patricia and Robert Stanton of Ballston Spa, NY, a step-father Francis L. McCormick, a son, John P. Schelmbauer and his wife Kayla and grandson Brayden of Wilton, NY, a sister Francine Merrills of Providence, NY, 2 step children, Mike and Katie Schelmbauer, two uncles, James Howard and his wife Judy and Billy Howard both of Ballston Spa, NY, an aunt Bonnie Lee of Kentucky and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Funeral services are private and at the convenience of the family at Maplewood Cemetery in Wilton.
Memorial Donations may be made to the Lupus Foundation of America, PO Box 418629, Boston, Ma, 02241-8629.  Arrangements are entrusted to Tunison Funeral Home 105 Lake Ave. Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Online remembrances may be made at www.tunisonfuneralhome.com.

Saturday, April 5

Woman dies after fall from sixth floor of Stonequist Apartments

Here is the full press release from the Saratoga Springs Police Department of the death at Stonequist, which they did not refer to as suicide, but suspect no foul play in. Check with  The Saratogian later today for more information. 
"Last night about 9:30 officers were sent to investigate a cellular 9-1-1 call at the Stonequist Apartments. The caller, a 48 year old female, was alone in her sixth floor apartment of Stonequist at the time of the call. Prior to officers making contact with her, she went out one of her windows and fell to the ground. Saratoga Springs Fire transported the woman to the emergency room, but she died later on.
Police do not suspect anything suspicious at this time. I will not be releasing the name at this time, as the deceased has family outside the area.
-- Lieutenant Robert H. JillsonInvestigations' Division CommanderSaratoga Springs Police Department"

Wednesday, March 26

Rip Van Dam gets site plan approval for expansion, construction expected this summer

SARATOGA SPRINGS >> After a lengthy debate over environmental impacts Wednesday night, the Planning Board approved the site plan for a six-story, 176-room hotel addition to the Rip Van Dam on Broadway, paving the way for the historic building to return to its original purpose.

The addition will tower over the current more than 160 -year-old building, constructed in the city’s Victorian heyday amid some of the largest hotels in the world.

The design of the addition is modeled to compliment the Rip Van Dam’s history while still raising a new, modern hotel 70 feet over Broadway, topped with a glass-walled, 200-seat capacity banquet hall.

The addition will rise behind the Rip Van Dam, built to fill the rear parking lot from the neighboring Adelphi Hotel out to Washington Street, where the valet entrance will be located.

A shot of their rendering, which I particularly love for the old cars and men with fedoras everywhere.

A coordinated streetscape in a “historical Victorian motif” with sitting areas and landscaping and heated sidewalks will stretch along Broadway from the corner of Washington to the far side of the Adelphi, developer Bruce Levinsky said.

The project has been before the Planning Board for more than a year and was plagued by city concerns over traffic and parking.

“We’ve been here quite a few times. We came to you with a project we thought was very, very good,” said the applicant’s attorney, Matthew Chauvin. After “working with the city in a collaborative effort, this has become a better project.”

At the opening of the meeting, City Planner Kate Maynard outlined 17 conditions the applicants agreed to in order to mitigate concerns over traffic, parking and other issues.

Chauvin said that list had a price tag of about $300,000. By the end of the meeting, the applicant had agreed to one more item.

The biggest addition to the project , not included in that cost, was a five-level parking garage that will reach 70 feet at its peak and have 341 spaces.

The garage will be accessed primarily by valets from the hotel that has no on-site parking.

It was required as one of the conditions of planning board approval for the hotel’s site plan.

Planning Board members had initially criticized the developers, who had proposed the project without a definite solution to parking.

Parking is not required for development on Broadway, but it remained a concern throughout the process.
“It’s a tough project. It’s all valet, which is a first,” said Planning Board Chair Mark Torpey.

The garage’s special use permit was approved in a separate vote Wednesday night, but the site plan was put off until the Design Review Commission could review changes to the proposed height of the structure.

Traffic was the biggest roadblock to the project, though.

The corner of Washington Street and Broadway is widely considered troublesome and with an exclusively valet-served property, the amount of traffic generated was concerning to Planning Board members.  

Traffic engineers were hired by both the developer and independently by the city, paid for by the developer. The two separate studies both concluded the project would have a small to moderate impact on the corner, but the Planning Board remained concerned and divided up to a vote on its environmental impact, which includes traffic.

“As I’ve said all along, I think this is a great project on the wrong site,” said Clifford Van Wagner, who chaired the planning board for the majority of the meetings the project was considered in.

He and Board Member Dan Gaba both voted their belief that the project could have a negative impact on traffic.

Van Wagner was the sole dissenting vote on the hotel’s site plan.

Levinsky said construction will begin in the summer and will last between 15 and 16 months.



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Ellsworth Square gets Planning Board approval

SARATOGA SPRINGS >> A mixed-use development proposed in the footprint of the former Ellsworth Ice Cream factory on Division Street was approved by the Planning Board Wednesday night.

The project, known as Ellsworth Square, has been working through the city’s Planning Board for more than a year and seeks to transform the now empty site of the former factory into a solid block of townhouses, houses, apartments and commercial space that will occupy the entire block between Division and Cherry streets and Walworth Street and Marvin Alley.

“We knew you would eventually get tired of seeing us,” Peter Belmonte, one of the local developers on the project, laughed after the project was approved.

He is working on another local developer, Steve Ethier, on the mixed-use development, their first collaboration.

“We bought it out of foreclosure. Instead of bidding against each other we decided to join up,” Ethier said.

The Planning Board worked through particular details of the project with the two Wednesday before approving the site plan and subdivision of site.

The plan is comprised of 24 townhouses, four single-family homes, 20 apartments and 4,000 square feet of commercial space.

Plans call for a three-story building at the corner of Division and Walworth streets with commercial space on the ground floor and apartments on the upper two. Next to that building will be a two-story apartment building on the corner of Cherry and Walworth streets.

 “We want low-impact, low-density, low turnover establishments,” Ethier said, agreeing to restrictions to keep out restaurants, barber shops and other uses.

A private, internal street will provide access to the townhouses’ attached two-car garages.

Ethier said they hope to move forward with construction in the fall. Belmonte said, depending on market conditions, the build out should take about 18 months.


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