Mayor Kim welcomed to the council new commissioners Jim Montagnino, Dillon Moran and Minita Sanghvi, wished a speedy recovery of health to returning commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco, and praised the previous achievements of returning supervisors Tara Gaston (for her public work dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic), and Matt Veitch (for helping pioneer the creation of the Geyser Crest Trail).
The address is generally delivered in February on an annual basis. “We decided to delay it a few weeks (this year) in the hope that we could meet together safely, without masks,” Kim explained.
“As we emerge out of a two-year pandemic, a deep recession, and local challenges around race relations and civil rights, Saratoga Springs has emerged a stronger, more resilient, and benevolent community and its future is bright as long as we continue to build our community through honest dialogue, hard work, and true reform,” Kim said.
“All of us remember the uncertainty and fear that pervaded this community, this nation, and the world exactly two years ago when we were forced to all isolate and quarantine as a pandemic raged.” Kim noted for their efforts during the earliest days of the pandemic the scores of nameless volunteers in the community who “stepped up, without any mandate or authority and armed only with their zoom account, cellphones, and deep desire to help out our community as it struggled through the unknown.” He also specifically credited for their work business leaders Todd Shimkus of the county Chamber, Darryl Leggieri of Discover Saratoga, Deann DeVitt of the Downtown Business Association, Ryan McMahon of the Saratoga Springs City Center, Samantha Bosshart of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, and Shelby Schneider – then-President of Saratoga Prosperity Partnership and currently deputy director at New York State Economic Development Council.
Kim listed a variety of projects currently under development or in design during the current year. They include:
Department Of Public Works
- A Water Pipe Distribution Project representing a $2.1 million dollar investment will soon greatly enhance the capacity of our water infrastructure.
- Nearly $1 million dollars will be spent at three of the City’s Sanitary Pump Stations to enhance sewer infrastructure.
- Veterans Memorial Park Field House, which serves the southwest neighborhood will be the recipient of $375,000 in renovations.
- The City’s water distribution system will get a facelift when 24-inch gear reduction valves are installed up on North Broadway.
Department Of Public Safety
- Report has been issued regarding the death of Darryl Mount, pinpointing prior department deficiencies and suggesting potential further actions related to the incident.
- Moving the proposed Eastside Fire Station forward by confirming inspection contracts, applying for federally funded SAFER grants for new staffing, and planning for the recruitment, hiring, and training of additional firefighters/paramedics for 2023.
- Improving the chances of recruiting experienced firefighters/paramedics by rationalizing the pay and benefits offered to “lateral hires,” and proposing and implementing a phased plan to get more police officers on the street without adding personnel expenses nor impacting management oversight.
- Leading an effort to consult with Caroline Street businesses and other stakeholders to formulate a plan for a safer entertainment district while still maintaining its vibrancy and diversity.
Department Of Finance
- Hiring of a new Information Technology director and expanding staff to accommodate the city’s growing reliance on technology, including an upgrade of the city’s systems and services to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.
- Initiating an innovative participatory budget program that expands upon the city’s transparency while encouraging
- Creating a plan to extend outdoor dining legislation, a critical component that initially helped restaurants and bars survive the pandemic.
- Currently redesigning a Special Event process to facilitate activities throughout the city, the results of which will be reveled soon to announce more than 60 public events for 2022.
- Held five 5 community events during which more than 12,000 rapid tests were distributed to residents across the city.
- Upgraded a number of City Clerk records to make them publicly available electronically.
Office Of The Mayor
- Established an Infrastructure Task Force, chaired by former mayor Joanne Yepsen, that is currently assessing the city’s infrastructure needs and reviewing grant making programs available with the federal Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act.
- Placing the Unified Development Ordinance on firmer legal footing by passing it 4-0 at the last City Council meeting. In upcoming meetings, amendments to the UDO will be considered to help define uses, protect the greenbelt, and guide Land Use boards.
- Moving the Saratoga Downtown Connector project forward. The project is in the design phase and will soon see a multi-use trail extending from City Hall to the northeast gateway of our city, eventually part of a comprehensive city-wide bike/pedestrian system to offer transportation alternatives and help build a carbon-neutral future.
- Setting a different tone at City Council meetings where there is now one rule and three suggestions: Rule: you have 2 minutes to make a comment and the time is yours and yours alone.
Suggestion 1: Remember YOU are a member of a community speaking to other members of that same community.
Suggestion 2: Be kind. Kindness is never wasted.
Suggestion 3: Be factual. Accuracy and truth are foundations of our democracy.
“We threw the doors open to the mayor’s office and put into practice the phrase ‘All are welcome here,’” Kim said. “Since January 1, we have met with almost 200 people from all walks of life about issues ranging from “Arts Tourism” to the backstretch workers, to land use and zoning matters. The mayor’s office welcomes all Saratogians.”
Working initiatives: establishing greater security in the Caroline Street entertainment zone with the Department of Public Safety; Creating a “hub” for transportation alternatives at the City Center Parking garage that will allow visitors to park their car and then bike, walk, or ride through the city core; Creating a public/private partnership with the arts community with the goal of establishing Saratoga Springs as one of the foremost arts destinations in the nation; Addressing homelessness by partnering with local non-profits and County officials;; Encouraging the construction of low income and work force housing in the city, and continuing to preserve the city “greenbelt.”
“It is a privilege to steward the future of Saratoga Springs and we look forward to the coming months as we work to make a strong, reliant Saratoga Springs even better,” Kim said.