Friday, July 17, 2009

Do the right thing

Dozens of small white signs dot the Woodlawn Avenue properties running north from Greenfield Avenue. Their message is simple: Save 23 Greenfield Ave.

Residents living near the stately brick structure now owned by the Riggi Family clearly don’t want to see it demolished. Their signs offer an ironic welcome to the restoration crews that are tirelessly working to save an equally historic structure just a few blocks away.

The carriage house behind the palatial Victorian mansion at 719 North Broadway curiously hovers in the air, as a handful of workers slowly pull it from the clutches of certain demise. Weeds grow from its rotted eaves and parts of the ornate molding have crumbled away, making it hard to image how the building was raised instead of razed. Simply put, its ongoing restoration is nothing short of herculean.

But for once, it seems as though the owner of a historic property is taking great pains to do the right thing. The restoration of the former Jeffords Estate stands testament to what can be accomplished if a developer has an eye for preserving history. And it stands in direct contrast to the demolition-by-neglect process fomented by other notorious property owners like Bruce Levinsky, absentee landowner Joseph Boff and of course, the Riggi Family.

The Queen Anne-style home was once owned by Walter Jeffords Jr., an renowned horseman who served as vice president of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. His widow, Kay Jeffords, continued his legacy and was among the Spa City’s most notable socialites.

Correction via Field Horne, who did extensive research on this structure: “the Jeffords House is Italianate, not Queen Anne. It was built in 1875 by Dr Benjamin Walker King, a physician from Fort Edward.”

Walter Jeffords died in 1990 and was followed by his wife 13 years later. Before her death, her estate and all the various treasures she and her husband amassed at the North Broadway mansion were liquidated at auction. The empty house, already showing signs of neglect, was likewise sold for $700,000 in 2004.

What followed was a period of deterioration that brought the home and its ornate carriage house perilously close to the wrecking ball. But in 2007, the property was transferred to a limited liability corporation, which started restoring the main house later in the year. The principle of the corporation is Lance Bell, a shareholder in the state thoroughbred company, the New York Breeders' Sales Co.

The evident decay caught of the carriage house caught the eye of a local photographer and blogger, who lamented about its neglect.

“Not all buildings here are taken care of,” wrote the blogger in a 2007 entry. “This very unique Carriage House is being allowed to go to rack and ruin. And if you are actually standing here and looking at it, you can see that it is getting close to falling down.”

Not so much anymore. The property appears to be well on its way to being returned to its former grandeur. Workers have poured a new foundation for the carriage house and the main mansion appears to be nearing completion. When it is, the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation should seriously consider giving Bell and his contractors an award.

They should also use him as a prime example of a conscientious resident who understands the value of these old homes and why they should be preserved no matter the cost. Records show the limited liability corporation took out a $630,000 loan before work began; an amount that is likely to be spent in its entirety to bring the property and all its structures into the 21st century.

Still, this is pittance to pay to preserve this city’s rich heritage, some of which disappears each year with neglectful property owners who don’t see the value in historic structures. Take for instance Boff’s property on Franklin Square. No amount of public shame or chiding seems to convince him of the value in keeping the Winans-Crippen house from the wrecking ball.

Even as city leaders were frantically trying to craft a moratorium to prevent the destruction of s different historic structure, the callous Floridian was thinking of ways to demolish his piece of heritage. Laughably, this out-of-state wretch claims he can’t afford to restore the house. Of course, he can afford to destroy it and build a new palatial structure in its place; an excuse that doesn’t hold water for even the most dim-witted of city officials. In fact, Boff should have told the city the truth, which is that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Saratoga’s rich history, historic structures or legacy that would bridge us to the past.

And he’s not the only one either. The Riggi family is preparing for another banner year on the social circuit by crafting a lawsuit against the city for enacting the moratorium. While their pending legal action may have merit in court, the shameful manifest destiny of their property boundary certainly doesn’t.

Both property owners should take a good look at the North Broadway project and then hang their collective heads in shame. It’s an example of a resident doing the right thing for a change, as opposed to the easy or inexpensive thing. Perhaps if city leaders made an example out of this work, they’d convince others to grow a conscience when it comes to owning and caring for historic buildings. And maybe –just maybe –one of them could buy Bell a cold one for a job well done.

50 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lance bell is a great guy. He owned a piece of property and decided to do one thing with it. The Riggis own another and want to do something else with their property. If the neighbors don't want the Riggi's to do somethng to property the Riggis own then the neighbors should buy it. If they don't want to open their own wallets,shut up. But if it's that important to you pony up the bucks and buy it!

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ho, I don't know what to say about this post. The fact that an old home is being restored is great! But I am having trouble with the concept of good meaning folk, who have nothing but a voyeuristic interest in my property, telling me what I can and can't do with it. It would be different if my property was in a legit historic district, but for someone to start arguing that they think that it is a (sort of) historical district and I am only allowed to renovate to their taste actually pisses me off.

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HO.........you are driving me nuts.

I was getting ready to comment about Fingernan, and then you go and conjure up a new topic.

First, who is the lovely couple, dressed in 50s style formal wear, in the black and white photo. Are they the Jeffords? Nice looking couple.

I see the pink house photo and wonder who came up with that color? And why has someone continued to paint it that color? I think I would lose interest in it too.

What is the purpose of the frosty cold beer and who is in the photo? I just don't get that one? I guess it is just to emphasize the free beer thingee.

Starting with Deputy Fingernan, she has no respect from any one of her subordinates. She is doing the political thing, same as Dreyer, only difference was that Dreyer could see how the PD and FD were manipulating the OT, on the QT. Erin tried to control the amount of OT, but met resistance from the Chief and Asst. Chief because the chiefs were getting complaints from the indians. The indians were accustomed to getting the OT every week, and looked at Erin as the reason for not making as much money as before.

Therefore the witch hunt began, and therefore Erin got the boot.

Someone suggested that if Erin could be booted, why not boot Fingernan? Good question, will someone please answer the question? Anyone? Anyone?

As far as the house on Greenfield Ave., has anyone ever heard the saying "Money talks and BS walks?"

The Riggis will have their way, wait and see.

p.s. I know it's Finnernan........

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Milhouse said...

HO

Please don't lump the Riggi fiasco in with the Franklin St. property. Two totally different deals.

66 Franklin is behind reasonable repair, as it was at the time the current owner purchased it. We need to let that one go. It's simply not fair to ask the owner to resurrect that flophouse dump. He can, however, put in something consistent with the neighborhood, and I believe he has shown he is willing to do so.

The Riggis have intentionally taken a house that was in perfectly good condition and allowed it to fall into disrepair. The disrepair is a direct result of their actions. They absolutely should not be permitted to demolish that house, no matter what happens.

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do the right thing?

I'll tell you what the right fucking thing is.

The City should do the right fucking thing and increase the assessment of that gaudy shithole mansion that they built on North Broadway by what they paid for the house on Greenfield Avenue and the cost of demolition.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous spotlight news said...

Why is it that the must vile and slanderous writers on these blogs are the ones who should just keep their lies to themselves?

So before GH chimes in about how wonderful kind and benevolent the Riggi family is you should just be grateful you could make bail for Shane. I’m afraid if he’s convicted he wouldn’t find many places to live. . that aren’t 1000 feet from a school or playground.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Clare Voyant said...

What politician do they have in their pocket? This will be interesting what comes out of this mess. Scott Johnson is sure to be there backing the Riggi family.
Knowing this I can't vote for Johnson. Ron Kim is not getting my vote. Maybe we should start a no vote campaign.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

12:00 and 12:11,

It would be one thing to micromanage what people do with their property, and it's another thing to say your plans for a building up front, no matter how unpopular they might be. But what the Riggis did was disingenuous in my opinion. The bottom line is if you want 10 acres of land to run your dogs, then you should be looking for it in the heart of the city proper. As a quasi-libertarian, I can understand both of your squeamishness toward regulating property rights. But too often in this city, developers try to flout the laws by simply exploiting these rights.

I do, however, agree. If the preservationists want the Greenfield house, they should pass around the collection plate. The only problem is, I don't think it ever went on the market. And I kind of doubt the Riggis are interested in selling it.

Milhouse,

The question is, when is a historic structure on the registry beyond reasonable repair? One could argue Bell's carriage house was well beyond reasonable repair. There's a tree growing out of one of the eaves! But the guy decided to make a go at it. And when he's done, I'll bet its every bit as nice as it was when it was first built. But I do agree with you regarding the Riggis...

spotlight,

I'm really failing to understand your message here. Please clarify.

Clare,

I've got two words for you: TUNA POWER!!

9:19 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

12:39,

You are indeed correct. The picture is of Walt Jeffords Jr. and his beau, Kay, back in the day. And the dude with the cold frothy one? That's some Palestinian barkeep. He just looked more inviting than just the plain 'ol beer mug. I was really looking for a real-life St. Pauly girl, but Lance will simply have to deal with Ahmed and his superior pouring ability...

Regarding Dreyer, that's something I've often heard though the grapevine. I always wished some impartial witness would have stepped forward and sprinkled that tidbit on the mainstream media.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Faulkner said...

I want to conduct a study to see if there is a correlation between degrees of aesthetic surgery and lack of protecting a historic home. You pay $10,000 to look like a clown, yet your domicile gets neglected or razed.

Come on... you can do both! Look like a member of Kabuki theatre, AND maintain that Anne of Green Gables house of yours.

6:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All three referenced properties are similar in that they are legitimate survivors in National Register Districts. The residents of those neighborhoods (and this city) have vested interests in those buildings. It is part of what make their neighborhoods and this city historic. The owners of all these properties are/were well aware of their special designation and the responsibilities involved in owning them and living along side them.

The subjective values placed on preserving the carriage house at 719 North Broadway or the residence at 66 Franklin Street or the value of an open side yards on Greenfield should not enter this equation. Square foot costs can vary and are dependent many variables. Most property owners in this City and in these neighborhoods manage to preserve their structures according to the DRC’s own guidelines and those outlined within the Secretary of the Interior Standards without having to return the structure to its original condition as publicly stated.

A tough decision for a city that has pioneered zoning legislation aimed at protecting its worthy surviving resources and has received National recognition for its efforts -- but one, with only one correct answer.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Clare Voyant said...

TUNA POWER! Not sure what that is. But it has to be better than our current choices.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...

Clare-

You must have missed HO's impassioned political endorsement of our somewhat new full-time local Bill Parcells, an NFL coach nicknamed "The TUNA." There my be hope for City Hall yet!

Because TODAY's City Hall houses an appointed political official who COULD... could have saved 23 Greenfield. Heck, it was in his job description.

As the city's first ever "Administrator of Parks, Open Lands and Historic Preservation", Lew Benton took on his job in June 2007. As his job description was stripped of "Parks" and virtually every other duty in his $52G job, his encyclopedic knowledge of this city certainly included 23 Greenfield. What he may thought of the Riggis is unknown and irrelevant.

He... and our vigilant preservationists... the fact is they FAILED to seek or secure the HISTORICAL DESIGNATION that would give the property the FULLEST PROTECTION under the LAW.

I find that OVERSIGHT is beyond belief in a town where the "preservation movement" can be dated back to the 1970 publication of "The Nineteenth Century Architecture of Saratoga Springs," where Skidmore art professors Stephen Prokopoff and Joan Siegfried expressed “a deep concern over the neglect, the deterioration and…the demolition that presently threatens many of Saratoga’s remaining Victorian structures.”

I find that OVERSIGHT utterly irresponsible that with THIRTY YEARS of existence, the Preservation Society left 23 Greenfield without protection. From a 2001 Skidmore publication- "Formed in 1977, the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation worked with the city council to designate historic districts within which buildings could be saved from demolition."

Horatio my friend, we are first and foremost a Nation of Laws. When 23 Greenfield was PURCHASED, it had no protected status. The owners now have the right to DO what they WANT.

A Preservation Society is only as good as the history it preserves. Fundraising Galas and City Officials are all well and good. But they dropped the ball here. They have SCREWED the POOCH. They FAILED.

And now the City's finest folk... no sarcasm here... the great wailing has given birth to lousy law. As I told the City Council, our judicial system is loathe to support "Ex Post Facto" legislation, the creation of law "After the Fact."

The city's "Moratorium" is a bad bill, it is LOUSY LAW. The Riggi's...or the ACLU... they will win the legal battle. We will lose 23 Greenfield. And we will pay huge legal fees to lose the fight.

We are the Good Guys, here.
And I'm sorry to be so long-winded.
But we're on the wrong side of the law.

So let this be a wake-up call to Lew and the ardent Preservationists.

-Kyle York
TUNA '09!

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. York:

You are beginning to sound desperate.

You are obviously the one who lives in the Franklin Square condominiums overlooking this very building which like many on this block were in rough shape at one time. Instead of complaining with your retro views and reduced tax perspective why not champion the preservation of the final piece of this puzzle.

Like 8:52 said, the costs are all relative. If most people who look for and buy these ‘diamonds in the rough’ had your attitude, we’d all be living in a make believe Victorian village called “Franklin Street Views”.

This is not the Preservation Society’s fault. It’s the fault of people like you. The city has an obligation having sold its ‘Preservationism’ for decades. Now it’s time to walk the walk. Let Boff sell the building that he is now unwilling to renovate since neither engineer claimed that it was no more disastrous than a building with some problems. Can you imagine what the inspector’s report would look like at this moment for the Jefford’s carriage house being supported by jacks and without sills or level walls?? Wo totally dangerous man – totally unsafe! Take it down man!

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bottom line is that Saratoga rebounded when "COMMUNITY MINDED" folks rehabbed houses instead of tearing them down or turning them into multi-unit buildings. The Riggis are only community minded when it suits them.

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lew?
A preservationist?

Hmmmmmm? Maybe the word "opportunist" would be more appropriate for a guy who has been on the public breast his entire life. (and his spouse)

He has no jurisdiction in this matter, none at all. He may bloviate till the heifers come home, but it's all just a lot of gas/methane ......added to our global warming.

He may be sitting at his desk (rarely, they say) and thinking about another way to sue the city, but preserving our heritage?

No way, Jose !!

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're wondering what Mr Public Service does at his desk all day. Look no further; he compiles meaningless shit like this to justify his useless well paid welfare job.

From the Times Union...

"Brother, can you spare the price … of a cup of coffee.
July 19, 2009 at 2:37 pm by Lew Benton

Brother, can you spare the price … of a cup of coffee?

Lew Benton

Saratoga Springs – the city with the State’s fastest growth rate, the greatest property value increase, one of the highest per capita sales tax revenues, and shouldered with a relatively modest debt load – has recently amended its 2009 revenue and operating budgets to avert a mid-year “budget crisis.”

Without going into all the gory details of why and how the most prosperous city in upstate has arrived at this place, suffice to say for now that our fiscal wounds are largely self-inflicted.

At one point in the run up to adopting the amendments, the Public Safety Department was asked to rescue the budget by absorbing $1.4 million, or 68%, of the then proposed $2 million in operating cuts.

None of the reductions seemed to have been based on any cost analysis or community priorities assessment. They were not supported by a clinical review of public safety’s actual costs or its essential role in maintaining the community’s “life quality.” Rather they were advanced by a not so subtle hint that we simply spend too much on safety services. Now, on the margins of the continuing debate, some have penciled in the potential elimination of the City’s emergency services dispatching function.

I think it’s less than even money that this debate will intensify in the coming political season – and the odds are even shorter that the debate will be based on rationale or be predicated on any thoughtful study. So it might be interesting to take a look now, before the misinformation and hyperbole sure to come, at what we in Saratoga Springs really spend on safety services and programs.

The truth is we already spend less per capita on safety services than any other city in the region except Mechanicville. Cohoes, Watervliet, Rensselaer, Albany, Schenectady, Troy and Albany all spend more – considerably more – per capita on police, fire and emergency medical services than Saratoga Springs does.

And of all 63 cities in New York, even communities such as Fulton, Canandaigua, Auburn, Oswego and Norwich – communities not faced with our seasonal population and service demand spikes - spend more.

In 2007, this community spent $368 per capita on combined police, fire and fire service based emergency medical services, essentially $1 a day for each of us. A small cup of coffee at Uncommon Grounds or Stewart’s costs more.

Fire and fire service delivered emergency medical services cost about 39 cents and police services about 61 cents per day per capita.

Of course, most of that $1 a day is not supported by the City property taxes we pay, but by other State aids, visitor generated sales tax, mortgage and use taxes, and other revenues.

The City’s EMS program, designed to deliver cardiac level care anywhere in the community in less than six minutes, has become a model since its inception in 1992. It saves lives, gives us all a wonderful sense of security knowing that it’s there, God forbid, we need to summon it and, because it required no additional personnel or apparatus, it is extremely cost effective. And the police, with one of the lowest staffing to population ratios in New York, competently responded to 28,000 calls for service last year alone in spite of the scandalous physical environment we to continue to allow them to labor in.

So the next time you buy a cup of coffee please consider all this. As for me, cream and no sugar."

5:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are these buildings 'unsafe?'

There is a large building along side the City Park that has holes in it and if you get close to it, you can see the sky. Is that building unsafe? Maybe that's why the City has required barriers to keep the public out and requires its inhabitants to wear helmets. There is another building across the street from the farmers market. That's right, it too is unsafe and the City has made sure that people don't wander in there to loiter. I remember when the old mill on Excelsior was unsafe and kids would get up on the roof and write graffiti on the back wall - the same brick wall that had a huge hole in it. I can also remember the corner tavern on Caroline Street. Huge, huge unsafe building! And now that I think of it, most of the old homes at one time or another had structural problems that required carpenters and contractors to come in and replace sills, beams, rafters and sometimes whole foundations! Talk about unsafe! And don’t forget that big old church on Washington Street. A huge building that had its roof ready for collapse! Holy Moley! Of course, the public would’ve got in trouble just trying to walk up the crumbling stairs. Did the inspectors then claim “demolition” is our only chance at protecting our citizens and our neighborhoods?

I’m sure if we talk to any handful of experienced contractors, you know the ones – they work for both the guy with a budget and those without one, they’ll tell you that the Jeffords house and the Franklin Street house look far worse than they appear. And a good window man would love to help solve the problem at Greenfield Avenue.

So, hat’s off to Lance Bell and all those like him who realize that the real history is in preserving an architectural artifact not tearing it down just because someone claims to be able to make a new quasi-replica styled replacement or will diminish its value to the rest of its neighborhood. And it doesn’t take Mr. Bell’s money to do that either – just walk down most affordable streets in this city - Thirty years of preservation awards!

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 5:21 - Well if this entry has anything to do with "Doing the Right Thing" then as far as sparing a cup of coffee for the largest and arguably one of the most mismanaged and inefficient departments, it should be clarified that Public Safety was not asked to rescue but to address its ever growing inefficient budget line items.

None of the budget line items or the every increasing extravagant demands has ever been based on any objective impartial cost analysis or community priorities assessment or has anyone ever determined how large a department is necessary. Is it time to take a closer look at those 28,000 annual calls and the dispatching services?

Could be time to cut out the coffee and get a new personnel trainer. It's called burning more calories than you consume.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:21 am
And who does Lew answer to?
No one, that's who.

So when he ambles in to his office,
he needs to fill some time.

Therefore, he types some crap,
that will help fill the time gap,

and look forward to
running for office once more.

As a GOP or Democrat?
Let's just wait and see.

He's been both.
It's there for all to see.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...

Desperate @ 1:03 PM-

"Let Boff sell the building... since neither engineer claimed that it was no more disastrous than a building with some problems."

Slow down on those Mid-day martinis lad and read the DRC's Inspection Report that you obviously have not seen... well, not with any kind of clear focus. Here's a more tippler-friendly option-- ASK a City Firefighter if he/she would be PERMITTED to enter "66 FRANKLIN" if it were ABLAZE. The answer is "NO"... like you see in the middle of that "SmirNOff" label.

"Unsafe" at any Read @ 5:58 AM-

"Experienced contractors, they’ll tell you that the Jeffords house and the Franklin Street house look far worse than they appear."

Now who can argue with authentic frontier gibberish like that?

-Kyle York
Franklin Street Views

6:33 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

3:10,

I posted a response to Lew's screed, but I think it got caught up in the TU's sensor. I guess they deem comparing the tree-counter to a three-year-old smearing dung was a bit over the top...oh well...I considered a blog about his ridiculous post, and may still. But in the meantime, here's my response to the 'coffee' post:

Lew,

I don’t know how to put this politely, but you’re a prime example of a fellow who likes to smear misinformation like a three-year-old with a fecal fetish. First of all, the only thing that has hampered the city’s EMS system has been the Public Safety commissioner himself, who has come perilously close to disbanding it to make a few extra bucks for the city. Secondly, there’s a reason we spend less on police(if in fact we do)than Schenectady or Albany. Have you walked through Arbor Hill recently? Hamilton Hill maybe? The term ‘out of touch’ comes to mind, but I won’t digress.

The fact is, Public Safety spends the lion’s share of the budget every year. The fact is, the Public Safety budget increases by leaps and bounds every year. The fact is, police overtime has grown in tandem with this budget. Now, if you can some how translate these facts into ‘the Public Safety department needs more money,’ you’re a politician of an ilk that I cannot fathom. To put it bluntly, your argument is disingenuous at the very least, especially if you're saying our public safety is assured for nothing more than a cost of a “cup of coffee.” Get real. Show us your formula. Let’s see the numbers. Hash it out, because I’m sensing that the aforementioned three-year-old has a pair of dirty mitts.

By the way, why not go into the “gory details” of how this city ended up in such a fiscal mess? Could it be because three consecutive mayoral administrations relied on balancing the budget with VLT aid? Or could it be the failure of two consecutive public safety administrations, which failed to reduce police overtime? Could it be the wanton spending habits of politicians constantly vying for re-election? Could it be a combination of all these things? I think so.

By the way, that dollar is already going to pay my taxes.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Yorkey: Before caterwauling after your tequila shots, read all of the professional reports and don’t start talking fear trash about sending trained professional fire fighters into ‘dangerous’ buildings or about 'close' structures making our tough guys look like wusses. But more importantly, talk like that is likely to condemn scores of structures in this little city.

So get behind the cause that made Saratoga famous instead sounding more and more like a desperate nimby – you know the ones you so often grumble about.

Remember, here at Franklin Street Condo views, we’re keeping a close neighborhood watch on you so don't go playing with matches or trespass around our building.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HO, if Kimmy wants to really save bucks in the budget, I suggest that he look to the concept of moving to a partial or total volunteer fire department. There are many communities in NY (some larger than Saratoga) that do extremely well with volunteer squads. I'd suggest that he look to Long Island for guidance. --- Hell, I'd like him to look anywhere for guidance!

5:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the owner of 66 has cold feet about doing the project, let him sell it at cost for the good of the whole community - no hard feelings.

It is a perfect fit for a contractor or a visionary with guidance and some inspiration from the DRC's guidelines. The original estimate of $300,000 for landscaping and nearly $275 per square foot for renovation would suggest a domus extravaganza and not nearly, the real costs for most careful investors - but then some folks can still afford the larger ticket items - but apparently just not this current owner.

If as blogger 6:33 reports, that the DRC issued THEIR OWN structures report overriding the record licensed engineers's statements -- that would certainly be news worthy.

7:10 AM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...

Watcher in the Woods @ 9:31 PM-

I can see Happy Hour didn't have the desired effect in your darkened corner of Paranoid Palace.

Our Firefighters are tough, brave, and SMART... and I've never said otherwise. They work for a SMART Commissioner who cares for their lives.

The Commissioner and the Code Inspectors have classified the structure as UNSAFE. That's SMART. A Firefighter's first step into the home would likely send them crashing through the rotted floor and into the feces-strewn basement. They are WARNED in ADVANCE.

If there are "wusses" in this town, their leader lurks, muttering mindlessly, in your ragged beer-stained recliner.

Like you, good neighbor, the BUILDING is UNSAFE. Keep an eye on it. 24/7. Shhhhhh.

-Kyle York
RE: 66 Firetrap Avenue

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may want to find out what it costs Long Island for Volounteer coverage. A newspaper report a few years ago showed a very expensive cost for their services and excess abuse of equipment. After you finish eating that size 10 foot in your mouth you can pack itup and move back to the island.

9:54 AM  
Anonymous for whom the bell tolls said...

We pay more per capita on public safety then Schenectady

Don’t believe me look it up your self.

http://www.seethroughny.net/Default.aspx?TabId=98

2007 City Benchmark Comparisons
Source: Office of State Comptroller, with further calculations by the Public Policy Institute, research affiliate of The Business Council of New York State, and the Empire Center for New York State Policy


Public Safety Per Capita
Total amount of expenditures for police, fire and other public safety services. Public Safety may include the following subcategories: public safety administration, police, fire protection, emergency response, correctional services, disaster response, homeland security and civil defense, and miscellaneous public safety.
$566 Albany
$445Saratoga Springs
$402 Schenectady "

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

12:35 PM, Public Safety Pre Capita is a lot more than $455 for those paying property taxes because of the Skidmore students are included in the count.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:41 AM writes :

"The Commissioner and the Code Inspectors have 'classified' the structure as UNSAFE”

... contrary to the professional judgements of the licensed and registered NYS structural engineers who determined the building NOT UNSAFE.

Be careful out there people -- POTENTIALLY, it's all UNSAFE.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous The Ghost of Flugey said...

The cave I lived in under Lillian's parking lot was much safer than that rat trap at 66 Franklin. Get your heads out of your ass people. Tear it down.

3:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

3:49 - And yet another UNscholarly and UNprofessional opinion at "classifying" UNsafe.

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The cave I lived in under Lillian's parking lot ..... Get your heads out of your ass people."

Now that, is a fine example of the pot calling the kettle black.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. York and the Ghost’s intimate familiarity with feces strewn basements and caves will before long through a process of natural selection, render their simple opinions along with some others out an evolutionary branch down into the abyss of irrelevancy.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous The ghost of "Stitch" said...

8:25 and 9:37 - Now there are a couple of blokes who obviously don't know much about Saratoga if they don't know Flugey. Also are unqualified to make a decision on 66 Franklin. "The place is a deadtrap. It's a suicide rap! We had to get out while we were young. Tramps like us, baby we were born to run"!

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:10 AM
Cold feet?
The Franklin Flop House house is a 5000 sq ft home that is rotten.
A house does not rot in a year or two. That house has been neglected as long as I can remember. I remember as a kid walking by there and watching all of the "losers" that were in and out of there. It has been in bad shape since the early 80's. Why didn't we do something THEN!!!! This guy has not owned this house a year yet.
We might as well just add this to a list of the boarded up houses in town.
We all talk a good game, but very few get into this for the love of it!
It does have to make some finacial sense. Try living near one of the structures.
RENOVATION COSTS
Estimated for a square foot cost...300-500.00 per foot. 1.5 million dollars at minimum!!
And then add in the acquistion cost of 400-500,000.00
That makes a total of 1,900,000.00 And the "replica" house has been professionally appraised at an estimated worth 750K at best.
Now there is a good deal.
Who in their right mind would buy 66 Franklin Street.
23 Greenfield is a totally different story

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Memo to all Public Safety Employees:

HoChiKim is leaving his post Dec. 31. The free ride is over.

No matter who takes his place, heads will roll, belts will be tightened, and accountability will finally be a part of your workday.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:54

Is that why the volunteer squads are all being replaced by paid departments? Oops, my mistake they are not!

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Clare Voyant said...

Saratoga is dying a slow death. Get Johnson out before it is too late!

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 2:01 PM - "Who in their right mind would buy 66 Franklin Street."

How is it that this project’s two owners and their architect did not come up with your assessment? And the two engineers brought in to make an assessment didn’t fail this building either. So, what’s your concern, the cost of renovation? Where is it written that this building has to be restored to its original condition (?) replacing everything in order for it to be saved? How many buildings live up to that standard? Your case for demolition based on exaggerated costs doesn’t sit well with several contractors who recently completed equally sized projects for far less.
The test for demolition is not hardship.

3:06 AM  
Anonymous Melky said...

2:24 You are right! Kim is leaving his post Dec.31st. He is moving downstairs to the Mayor's seat. I hope you aren't counting on Wirth to straighten out anything. I watched him the other day with some woman standing on broadway hoping someone would come up and notice who he was. It didn't happen. He will lose. All Dem council again. Oh! Except for Skippy! He is a democrat for the most part. So is his wife,son and his wife's brother who also works for DPW.

4:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:24
You forgot Skippy's wife's cousin, who works in DPS.

6:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kim as mayor! Let the circus start! It would be fun watching him huff and puff, throw tantrums at every meeting and generally bring chaos to the position - except for the fact that a lot of good people will be damaged by his stupidity.

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This morning, while I was (euphemistically) taking care of business and concurrently reading the Saratogian, I realized that the problem
Mr. Boff has with No. 66 Franklin is that he bought this property on the wrong side of the city. Had he for instance, purchased an old house on Fifth Avenue or on the corner of Court Street and Caroline, then like several others in the past few years, he might have been able to renovate and restore his large historic building for less than half of what he is facing today in the fashionable National Register West Side Franklin Square Historic District with its proximity to the Franklin Square Condominiums on fashionable Railroad Avenue.

Of course, his plans could be scaled back so as not to include the added second residence in the proposed new carriage house, often downplayed as a part of his project but, I’m certain that some of the more seasoned property developers and owners who have managed to successfully complete their projects recently can steer him to some more cost effective approaches while still receiving the favor of our city’s Design Review Commission and the Preservation Foundation.

Now that brings us to The Riggi’s (You know, It's not how you feel, it's how you look!" … and you look mahvelous!) dilemma as well. It would seem that not only is it the height of fashion to build an impressive staggering domus on the only vacant lot in the prestigious Historic National Register North Broadway District but to be also capable of annexing and demolishing the neighborhood’s impeccably maintained historic civil war era house for a sum of what Mr. Boff is being challenged with to restore his home on Franklin Street, sans the carriage house domus and the $300,000 landscape budget – would be the height of enviable extravagance. Obviously, this disturbance in the force is meant to be felt clear across town to Geyser Road.

Then there is the question of safe versus unsafe. Is anything unsafe or has this become a deliberate diversion to hopefully justify the means to demolish by impotently claiming “our hands are tied”? Fortunately or unfortunately, the licensed professionals have weighed in directly and indirectly with a determined safe verdict for the time being. So, besides leaving us with an uncomfortable code enforcement problem for Property Protection, it might be time to address the vested interests of the greater constituency.

In conclusion, it should be said, that Mr. Bell's responsible approach to his presently safe/unsafe historic building is not only commendable but timely.

4:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:03 am
You say "fashionable Railroad Avenue" and I say "dark and dreary Bonacio Canyon".

The sunlight is blocked out, there are no views from any of the condos, and who -- pray tell -- would want to live there?

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:21 am – The unhappy Mr. York and the many other recent cosmopolitans who do enjoy its jena a ci qua.

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...

Anon 8:04-

Indeed, many things make me "unhappy." It's a very short list, foremost among the "Most Irritating"--

* Anonymous Cyber-Cowards...

* Blogger-Butchers of languages, near and far...

* The Certifiably Paranoid... pontificating as fast as trembling fingers can type.

But for the record, I am NOT "unhappy." Ashamed of my neighbors?-- yes. Ashamed of my elected officials?-- yes. Ashamed about our pathetically low voter turnout?-- 24/7.

But I see Railroad Place as an example of "Smart Growth." Our residences are as Green as can be built. Our financial support of Downtown is immense. Our homes are on the Tax Roles... instead of Public Fields of Private turn-and-run Dog Poop Depositories for the Privileged Few.

Speak for yourself, timid troglodyte who dare not speak your name. Your brand of "unhappiness" can be treated.

Get help. Really. Learn the confidence that comes with the courage of your convictions. Or not.

-Kyle York
Happy Fella'

2:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:23 AM

... and there's no mistaking the illusions of happiness that you exude in your rants.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Mr. Happy: Anonymity has little to do with courage. In this case, it only causes YOU to focus on the (hopefully) responsible message.

What does it mean? It does mean something, but the mystery of its source means nothing, (that) it is irrelevant.

And yes ... irritable people are a bore.

4:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And thus ends another HO event.

49, maybe 50 posts, not quite the 100+ that the Riggis got, but pretty decent.

Lots of rants, and some good new topics for future postings.

Keep on truckin' HO

6:32 AM  

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