Kyle York never seemed short on words or causes in which to deliver them.
The outspoken Saratoga Springs man was known to deliver lengthy addresses during the public comment period at City Council meetings and sometimes penned opinion pieces that pushed the maximum word count for letters to the editor. He opined on a broad array of topics ranging from the war in Iraq to dredging for PCBs on the Hudson River to the fate of the dilapidated vacant Victorian house on Franklin Street — a structure he viewed as an imminent public safety threat.
“I don’t text and I don’t use emoticons,” he wrote in the profile he posted on his blog, Speaking-of-Saratoga. “Words are far too precious. Serious analysis is all too rare.”
York, who was well-known for his activism around the city, died tragically after falling from his fourth-floor condominium window Wednesday afternoon. He was 59.
Police Lt. Robert Jillson said York was apparently doing maintenance around 3 p.m. when he tumbled from an open window. He said York was taken from the scene by ambulance but died of his injuries a short time later.
Jillson said York lived alone in the condominium. An investigation into the fall suggests there was no foul play, he said.
“With everything we have now, there is nothing that has led us to believe this was anything other than an unfortunate accident,” he said.
A career writer and editor with a degree from the University of Florida, York once worked as a senior copywriter at Palio Communications on Broadway. He also worked as the creative director for Marriott Vacation Club in Orlando, Tweed Advertising and Gray Advertising.
York had a passion for civic-minded causes. He doggedly followed city politics and various causes that he viewed as affecting the area.
York spoke passionately against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-ordered dredging of the Hudson River, fearing the project could send unsafe levels of PCBs downstream. He also took up many local issues, including the design of the City Center, the effort to change the city’s form of government and the 2011 mayor’s race.
One of York’s biggest criticisms was against the preservationists trying to forestall the demolition of the historic Winans-Crippen home on Franklin Street. York vehemently argued that the building designed by famous city architect J.D. Stevens had been allowed to fall too far into disrepair and that allowing it to remain standing posed a danger to both the public and surrounding structures.
“He was a passionate, active citizen in both county and city business,” said Mayor-elect Joanne Yepsen, who first met York when she was running for city supervisor in 2005. “He contributed ideas through research that helped me and other elected officials a great deal.”
John Tighe, a local blogger who sometimes clashed with York online, described him as an intelligent and compassionate man who was a very good writer. He said York also knew how to argue a point without getting personal.
“It’s a great loss for Saratoga,” he said. “In a time now of political apathy, he represented a citizen journalist who really cared about the government of this city.”
York also took up various odd jobs around the city, including driving a cab and working part-time for the city’s Department of Public Works. Former DPW commissioner Thomas McTygue recalled being perplexed by York asking for a menial job in Congress Park one summer, even though he didn’t seem to need the money.
“He was one of those guys who wanted to try different things,” he said. “And he was a good worker.”
York also drove a cab for Saratoga Hybrid Taxi. Owner Byron Norsworthy said York’s gift for holding conversation made him a hit with customers, many of whom would request him personally.
“He was very much a people person. Everybody loved him,” he recalled. “He really brought a cheerful vibe.”