In a remarkable act of generosity a number of major players in the development business here in our city have come together to help provide emergency shelter for the homeless.
Ed and Lisa Mitzen who are the owners of Fingerpaint Marketing (http://fingerpaintmarketing.com/) have committed to the financing of a building for Shelters of Saratoga. The shelter facility will provide emergency housing for Code Blue Alerts.
Sonny Bonacio has agreed to build the facility at cost.
The LA Group is handling the application process as the project will require very significant variances in light of its size and purpose given the zoning for the area. They are pretty much donating their services for the project. In an email I received from Mike Ingersoll who appeared at the ZBA meeting on Shelters behalf, he wrote, “Happy to assist for what we feel is a much needed and worthy cause.”
The project is anticipated to be a two story building of approximately 6,400 square feet to provide temporary shelter for 61 persons.
The Code Blue facility is to be constructed on land owned by Shelters of Saratoga and will be an approximately 6,400 square foot structure created to allow up to 61 individuals to have a place to sleep with associated uses for bathroom, shower facilities, dining facilities, laundry facilities, offices for volunteers and staff working solely on the Code Blue Program and interactive space for the volunteers, staff, and participants in the Code Blue Program to be utilized during the Code Blue operational periods.
Locating a project to serve the homeless in a city like Saratoga Springs has the potential for considerable conflict. In this case the Masie Center working with the principals of the project were able to come to an agreement prior to the application for variances to the ZBA. The gist of it is that the facility will only be used for cold weather emergencies known as Code Blue Alerts.
A Code Blue alert is triggered when the wind chill temperature drops below 32 degrees. In order to address logistical issues the alert can be started twenty-four hours prior to the anticipated threshold and end twenty-four hours afterward.
There are a variety of items they agreed upon to minimize the impact of the facility on the neighborhood which I list below. The most significant factor is that it will only be operational during brief periods during the winter.
Zoning Board Member Finally Finds A Variance He Can Oppose
Gary Hasbrouck who is a member of the ZBA is a realtor and operates a trailer park in Wilton. Mr. Hasbrouck may have opposed a variance in the past but not at any of the meetings that I have ever attended. He is a man who has shown a remarkable indifference to the value of zoning restrictions. If a property owner wants something, even if the neighborhood is united in its opposition, Mr. Hasbrouck has never shown any fear in overriding the zoning. One thing I feel reasonably sure of, up until this vote to grant variances for this homeless project, he has never been the sole dissenter on granting a variance. There is no doubt that the project involved some very substantial relief. Its scale and its placement on the lots are major. Still, even William Moore and Adam McNeill, who have pretty much voted with him as a block supported the project.
I find it particularly interesting that he was unmoved by the fact that Sonny Bonacio will be the builder.
One of the factors in deciding on variances is the value to the community of a project. In this case, he told his fellow board members that he could not live with lowering the standard for even something as well meaning as this shelter.
Some Particulars On The Restrictions Agreed To For The Project
Code Blue staff are required to monitor and be responsible for an area within a perimeter within 250 feet of the Code Blue Center.
A six foot “solid” fence shall be erected along the eastern and northern perimeters of the property with a gate that will be remain closed “other than (1) as required by state and local fire and safety codes, or (2) to allow the access to the parking areas on Shelters’ land; or (3) to allow access to trash receptacles outside of the herein described fence. It is understood that the vehicle gate through the fence on the east side of Tax Parcel … may be opened for maintenance, emergency services/or mobile outreach vehicles but shall remain securely closed when not in immediate use. It is the Parties’ intention that the primary public access for vehicles onto the drive way/parking lot area of the real property of Shelters shall be from Walworth Street.”
Shelters will see that a light pole is added to Marvin Alley and that another two headed light is erected on the Southeast corner of the project.