The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have published an extensive survey in which they rated 3,617 hospitals nationally on a scale of 1 to 5. Here are the ratings for a number of major players in our area:
Saratoga Hospital 3
Albany Med 2
St. Peter’s 3
Glens Falls Hospital 4
In an interesting article from the Kaiser Health News, the response to the study prompted a campaign by the hospital industry to block the ratings.
Here is a link to the article: Link To Story
The New York State Department of Transportation has tentative plans to remove the bridge on Nelson Avenue Extension that goes over the Northway due to its deteriorating condition and what DOT considers to be its light usage. A spokesman for DOT, noting the increasing cost of maintaining the bridge, indicated that no firm decision has been made yet. There will be a public meeting to address the issue in September.
Replacing the bridge is estimated to cost $5.5 million.
DOT estimates that 440 vehicles cross the bridge a day although local residents say this does not take into account seasonal increases in traffic. DOT contrasts this with 2,200 that use the Crescent Street Bridge several miles north.
Residents have organized to try to save this bridge. They note that this corridor has existed for over one hundred years and predated the Northway which was built in the 1960s.
It is a popular venue for bicyclists who want to avoid Route 9. The Saraoga Lions Duathlon and the Annual Team Billy Ride and Walk for Research and Tour de Cure, as well as weekly rides originating at Blue Sky Bicycles all utilize the bridge.
There are a number of businesses that will be adversely impacted.
According to a pamphlet put out by the organizers, If the bridge is closed, the alternate route would be Kaydeross Avenue East. It is a winding road with no bicycle lane, small shoulders, limited sightlines and wetlands on both sides.
Chris Morrell, vice president of the Matla Ridge Fire Company is quoted in a front page story in the Gazette as opposing the plan arguing that it is a matter of safety.
Earlier this month at a Saratoga Springs City Council meeting, Commissioners Scirocco and Mathiesen expressed support to keep the bridge open. In an email to DOT, Commissioner Mathiesen noted that “Many property owners as well as city, town, and county officials made decisions on land investment and use based on the continued availability of this access. Fire, emergency services, police, and inter-municipal mutual aid resources will be hindered significantly by the loss of that Northway overpass. This is an example of the state turning its back on a commitment to our community that was made over 50 years ago.
If you would like to support the bridge, there is an on line petition at https://www.change.org/p/save-the-bridge-on-nelson-ave-ext-over-northway.
The issue will be taken up at Monday night’s Malta Town Board Meeting and Tuesday night’s Saratoga Springs City Council meeting.
Letter To The Editor In Times Union
Times Union coverage of Saratoga Springs City Council actions regarding Mayor Joanne Yepsen‘s ethics violation does a disservice to the facts. The city’s ethics board, whose members were all appointed by Yepsen, found that she violated the city’s ethics code by soliciting fundraising work from Saratoga Hospital while the council was considering its request for a $14 million expansion. Council approval of the requested expansion would have led the hospital to raise significant funds.
A recent editorial characterized the council as “petty” for censuring Yepsen and requesting a state investigation of her actions (“World class, small town,” July 22). Yet, in 2014, when Yepsen requested a state investigation of another city department and its commissioner regarding accusations made by that department’s previous administration — who just happens to be one of her key donors — the Times Union Editorial Board praised her.
Yepsen blames the ethics code. This is strange considering the council, of which she is a member, reviewed the code in late 2015 while she was asking the hospital to hire her. Yepsen won’t acknowledge the obvious impropriety in soliciting employment from an entity while it is requesting her affirmative vote on a project that is important to them.
Once I learned of her questionable attempts to secure employment from the hospital while we were reviewing their expansion application, I repeatedly advised her to admit mistakes, apologize and let us move on. Instead, she has attempted to mislead the commissioners and the public by claiming that any questions about her solicitations are political in nature.
We aren’t petty; we are doing our jobs. Anything less would be a serious failure and a violation of the public trust.
Commissioner of Finance Saratoga Springs
From two reliable sources, Mayor Joanne Yepsen has fired her long time Executive Assistant, Gayle LaSalle. Rather shocking because Gayle LaSalle always appeared very loyal to Ms. Yepsen.
According to the Albany Business Review the Saratoga Polo Association field in Greenfield, just outside the city limits, is under the threat of foreclosure by the National Bank of Scotia. At stake are 43 acres. The bank is attempting to recover $499,246.00 which is the balance of the loan to club owners Jim Rossi and Mike Bucci.
Ayco Corporation is a subdivision of the Goldman Sachs Group that specializes in services to its wealthiest investors. In Saratoga Springs its offices are located on Broadway across from Congress Park.
In addition to its offices in Saratoga Springs it has offices in Latham and Colonie as well as offices across the United States. Employing approximately 1700 employee nationally, they have 921 employees in the Capital District. In Latham they lease 110,000 square feet.
As reported in the Albany Business Review, Ayco has decided to consolidate their offices. They have issued a request to developers to build them this facility. The proposals are due by the end of this week.
While one can assume that employees of Ayco who currently own homes in our city will remain here, the loss of the occupants of such a large office space is very troubling, especially following the lost of Palio.
The ZBA voted 5 to 0 to reject Jean D’Agostino’s appeal of the stop work order on her building at 39 Murphy Lane. The resolution was not available before the meeting. It went into some detail in responding to her attorney, James Fauci’s appeal letter.
I will post the resolution with comments when it is posted on the city’s website.
In a letter dated July 13th, attorney James Fauci, on behalf of Jean D’Agostino, the owner of 39 Murphy Lane, has responded to the new stop work order issued by the city.
Apparently, the Zoning Board of Appeals will be considering his letter and making a decision as to whether to withdraw the stop work order at their Monday, July 25th meeting (tomorrow night).
I am not a lawyer and I found the arguments he makes somewhat contradictory. As far as I can tell, he asserts that the ZBA in granting his client the variances did not stipulate any special conditions. He argues that they granted her relief regarding the fact that the lot was smaller than the minimum size required by zoning and on other technical issues related to parking and set back. He claims that because they did not stipulate any limit on the height of the building that there was nothing to preclude them from building a taller building as long as it did not exceed the zoning limit for the district which is sixty feet. In effect, he appears to this non lawyer (me) that he disregards the details in the original plan in which the ZBA granted the variances.
On the other hand, he notes that in paragraph 5 the stop work order asserted:
“The resolution granting the variances did not authorize ‘tearing down the barn and starting new’ or the ’removal of the existing barn.’[JK: As stipulated in her application to the ZBA]”
He then offers the following:
“RESPONSE: Neither was done. The applicant has not torn down the barn and started new. All of the materials from the original barn have been preserved and as many as can be safely and effectively used has and will be used.”
First, this seems like a very lawyerly distinction that may hold up in the courts but seems extremely odd to lay people such as myself. The barn was totally torn apart and no longer existed as a building, following which the owner began to build a new structure. It also seems inconsistent with his earlier arguments in that by not being included in the resolution it would seem to fall under his category of conditions not stipulated in the resolution granting variances. In other words, because the ZBA did not stipulate that the barn could not be torn down in their resolution (even though she stated in her application that she would not tear it down), using his earlier logic, it would not be material.
If the ZBA refuses to have the city withdraw its stop work order, I guess we will all find out what the courts think of his argument.
This is a link to the letter from Fauci. Fauci Re New Stop Work
This is an image of the letter.
As the readers of this blog will recall, I met with members of the Mayor’s staff back in May. At the time, they agreed to request from Saratoga National Golf Course an explanation as to how they were enforcing the limit on “Special Events” as required by their Site Plan Agreement. This agreement limited SNGC to three events a year in which an event exceeded their parking lot capacity.
This picture of overflow parking at SNGC was taken on the evening of July 18.
To date, I have received nothing from the Mayor’s office regarding Saratoga National Golf Course’s implementation of monitoring special events.