SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Spring starts this weekend, but Saratoga is already getting ready for what many hope will be a record-breaking summer for the Spa City. While all is quiet at the track as the snow continues to melt, NYRA announced that the season will kick off in 121 days on July 14.
“We’re so excited about this year, certainly compared to the last two,” said Todd Shimkus, the President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. With no COVID restrictions heading into the busier months ahead, local businesses have an opportunity to prepare for the season well in advance, a luxury that hasn’t been known since 2019.
“Last year at this time, we did not know what would be open, or what limitations might be imposed by state government. So this year, we feel like we can feel the freedom,” said Shimkus, who noted that the regulations at Saratoga Race Course weren’t known until right before the season began.
But as we get closer to summer, there are some concerns about public safety, especially downtown where there were several instances of violence last summer. In June, a large brawl on Caroline Street saw a person stabbed and a gun fired.
Just last weekend, three officers were injured when police say patrons leaving Gaffney’s got into an altercation on Caroline Street. According to the Saratoga Springs Police Department, one officer needed medical attention. Three individuals have been arrested for their alleged roles in the altercation.
As the summer months near, the city is taking several approaches to address these concerns. “We’re increasing the number of officers out on street patrol, so we have a bigger presence throughout the city and particularly in the downtown area,” said Public Safety Commissioner Jim Montagnino, who says increased police presence is a good deterrent.
The commissioner said the city is also considering a plan to cordon off Caroline Street, which would allow visitors to be checked on their way in. “The street itself becomes an event. This would make it simpler, safer, and more tourist-friendly,” Montagnino explained, comparing the idea to what’s used in Memphis along Beale Street.
Montagnino says conversations about public safety heading into the summer continue to be had with local businesses, but says they’ve had a positive reception to this idea. Despite these incidents, the public safety commissioner says crime in the city has remained stagnant.
In response to last weekend’s altercation, Gaffney’s released the following statement after meeting with Montagnino:
“Earlier today [Monday], we met with city officials to discuss how we can work together more cohesively to support Caroline Street. We look forward to continuing these conversations in a positive manner. Gaffney’s has always remained committed as ever to ensuring a safe environment for our patrons and artists.”Gaffney’s