SARATOGA SPRINGS — City officials expect to move back into the fire- and flood-damaged City Hall around the end of February, city Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco said Tuesday.
“We are moving back in by the end of February,” he said during part of the annual State of the City presentation Tuesday night at the Saratoga Springs City Center. “City Hall has been a significant undertaking.”
The nearly 150-year-old City Hall at Broadway and Lake Avenue has been closed since a lightning strike on Aug. 17, 2018, and since last summer has been undergoing a $10 million renovation that has replaced much of the building’s interior while preserving its aged brick exterior.
The renovated City Halll will have all-new heating, ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing and electric systems, be more energy efficient, and will meet all the needs of the city’s two court judges, Scirocco said. “It has really gone a lot more smoothly than I thought it was going to,” he said.
The original goal was to move back into the building at the end of the year, but Scirocco said not all departments were going to be ready to move back by then, and the disruptions caused by construction of the new City Center parking garage were also a factor. The garage is being built on top of an existing parking lot, temporarily aggravating downtown parking issues.
“The current parking constraints downtown were taken into consideration,” said Scirocco, whose department is overseeing the restoration work.
The third-floor music hall is being retained and improved, and while the court space on the second floor won’t be ready until later in the spring, the city departments that use the basement and first floors will be ready in February.
“Last but not least, there will be lightning protection,” Scirocco said, to laughter from the roughly 100 people in attendance.
Since the fire, city offices have been temporarily located in the city Recreation Center on Vanderbilt Terrace — a situation that hasn’t been all bad.
“We are all looking forward to moving back to City Hall in 2020, but I have to say that working in a large gym environment has been conducive to some really great teamwork,” said Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan.
Mayor Meg Kelly called the return to City Hall, along with the return of the Recreation Center to the Recreation Department, a “positive challenge for 2020.”
In another part of his address, Scirocco said the Department of Public Works is making plans to mark the 150th anniversary of the city-owned Canfield Casino in Congress Park.
Kelly and other City Council members cited seeking restoration of state video lottery terminal aid in the 2020-2021 state budget as a priority. The aid, which Saratoga receives because of the VLTs at the Saratoga Casino Hotel, has been $2.3 million in recent years. The area’s state elected officials have vowed to fight to get the funding restored in the final state budget.
“I am just short of [the governor’s office] blocking my number,” said Tara Gaston, a city representative on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. “You guys keep calling, though.”