Group af­firms shel­ter sup­port

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Joseph Phe­lan jPhe­lan@dig­i­tal­first­

De­spite a new chal­lenge from neigh­bors op­pos­ing the pro­posed Code Blue shel­ter on Wal­worth Street, Shel­ters of Saratoga main­tains the pro­posed shel­ter meets the re­quire­ments of a neigh­bor­hood room­ing house.

A law­suit was filed by 20 res­i­dents last week, seek­ing to over­turn a de­ci­sion by the Saratoga Springs Zon­ing Board of Ap­peals that said Shel­ters of Saratoga’s plans to build a per­ma­nent Code Blue shel­ter at 14 Wal­worth St. fit neigh­bor­hood zon­ing re­quire­ments.

Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Shel­ters of Saratoga Michael Fin­nochi said, “while Shel­ters is sad­dened by the de­lay in mov­ing for­ward with the pro­ject, we will par­tic­i­pate in the le­gal process with the hope to break ground as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Neigh­bors from Franklin Street last week said res­i­dents had at­tempted to meet with Shel­ters of Saratoga as well as lo­cal re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions and so­cial ser­vice agen­cies to fig­ure out an al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tion for Code Blue. Neigh­bors said they “con­tinue to ad­vo­cate for an ap­pro­pri­ate, smart al­ter­na­tive lo­ca­tion for Code Blue ser­vices in the city.”

Fin­nochi and Shel­ters of Saratoga re­main stead­fast that the pro­posed ad­di­tion to Shel­ters of Saratoga for a Code Blue shel­ter is the right move.

“With sup­port of Ed and Lisa

Mitzen, who gen­er­ously ded­i­cated per­sonal funds and time, along with sup­port­ers of this pro­ject, Shel­ters of Saratoga main­tains its po­si­tion that Wal­worth Street is the smart and ef­fec­tive so­lu­tion to pro­vid­ing the com­pre­hen­sive care man­age­ment peo­ple need, not only to find shel­ter in ex­treme weather, but to sta­bi­lize their lives for the long term. Shel­ter op­er­a­tions on one cam­pus will pro­vide a co­or­di­nated ap­proach through cen­tral ac­cess to ba­sic needs, ex­tended shel­ter and case man­age­ment for those fac­ing home­less­ness. Pro­ject plans in­clude the in­stal­la­tion of ad­di­tional light­ing, fenc­ing and the cre­ation of a neigh­bor­hood watch pro­gram,” said Fin­nochi in a re­lease. “The on­go­ing ad­vo­cacy for a per­ma­nent shel­ter has de­pleted re­sources ded­i­cated to Shel­ters of Saratoga’s core pro­grams: sober shel­ter, dropin cen­ter and com­mu­nity outreach. These pro­grams have pro­vided a pil­lar of safety to the Saratoga com­mu­nity since 1991.”

This is the sec­ond time the neigh­bors have fought the pro­ject. Last year, the Zon­ing Board of Ap­peals ruled the neigh­bor’s op­po­si­tion to the pro­posed shel­ter be­ing a “neigh­bor­hood room­ing house” as un­timely.

A judge, how­ever, ruled the ap­peal must be heard last fall. Last month, the Zon­ing Board of Ap­peals heard the neigh­bor’s ap­peal, but voted unan­i­mously that the pro­posed shel­ter fit in the zon­ing re­quire­ments.

On Feb. 14, 2017, Shel­ters of Saratoga an­nounced the Mitzen fam­ily would pay for the costs of the pro­posed fa­cil­ity.

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