Saratoga Springs

No decision yet for Code Blue shelter

City Planning Board delays vote on whether to grant Shelters of Saratoga a special use permit
Residents stand outside of the Code Blue Saratoga Shelter in Saratoga Springs at 62 Henry Street, Jan. 8, 2018.
Residents stand outside of the Code Blue Saratoga Shelter in Saratoga Springs at 62 Henry Street, Jan. 8, 2018.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city Planning Board once again delayed voting on granting Shelters of Saratoga’s proposed Code Blue shelter a special use permit at its Thursday meeting. 

The board first postponed the public hearing at its March 15 meeting and announced that it would be held on April 5. 

On Thursday, after hearing three other projects, at nearly 9 p.m. the board announced to the standing-room-only crowd that it would not vote on the proposed shelter.

The non-profit organization is looking to build the proposed Code Blue shelter next to its Walworth Street headquarters. 

The Code Blue shelter serves as a walk-in, emergency homeless shelter when temperatures in the city dip below 32 degrees, in accordance with state law. 

It is located at Soul Saving Station Church on Henry Street in downtown Saratoga Springs and serves residents of Saratoga, Washington and Warren counties.

Matthew Dickson, a Franklin Street resident who is one of the 22 neighbors who are involved in litigation against the project, spoke at Thursday’s meeting.

Dickson said he’s concerned that the proposed shelter would have a detrimental effect on the neighborhood.

“I have no reservations about what they’re trying to accomplish and I support it fully,” he said. “I’m questioning the location and appropriateness.

“People from all over the county with psychiatric and substance abuse issues will be in a building smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood and that seems to be a mistake.”

Gayle LaSalle, a Saratoga Springs resident, said while she understands certain arguments on both sides, helping people in the community is crucial.

“They’re our neighbors; they live here,” she said. “Having it connected to the Shelters of Saratoga building is imperative.”

LaSalle, who has spent nearly 25 years helping those battling addictions, said the first step to helping someone facing homelessness is to give them shelter. 

“Many of the people in the Code Blue shelter go on to live healthy lives and get their own apartments,” she said. “It’s not about giving them a hand out. It’s about giving them a hands up.”

The shelter was supposed to open in December, but legal action by neighbors stalled the project. 

In July, the neighbors filed a lawsuit to challenge the Planning Board’s previous approval of the project and the Zoning Board’s June dismissal of the group’s appeal. 

Shelters of Saratoga cleared the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals in January.  The board unanimously voted that the organization’s proposed Code Blue shelter qualifies as a neighborhood rooming house, meaning the shelter can be built on Walworth Street.

Ed and Lisa Mitzen, who own Fingerpaint Marketing on Broadway, have agreed to fund the new shelter, and Sonny Bonacio of Bonacio Construction Inc. has promised to build it while forgoing any profits.

Categories: -News-, Schenectady County

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