Greenfield EMS deal a no-go with Saratoga Springs; lakeside homeowners hopeful racetrack fire station will improve response times

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The community on the eastern side of Saratoga Springs has been pushing for years to get faster response times for EMS services in their neighborhoods. Ahead of her re-election this year, Mayor Meg Kelly announced that the city had a solution.

In an interview with News10 on October 29, Mayor Kelly said an agreement was made between the city, NYRA, and the state to bring a third firehouse onto the Oklahoma side of the Saratoga Race Track that would serve the eastern side of the city and improve EMS response times.

“As we go forward, the response time is right around eight to nine minutes, and now it would be four to five minutes,” Mayor Kelly told News10’s Tim Lake this October, “and that saves lives. That’s what we’re looking for, and that’s what the fire department and police department were requesting that we be at. So this location put us right at those numbers.”

A resident on the east side tells News10 he commends the mayor’s office for the announcement of the third fire house, because he’s seen the severity of the response time issue firsthand.

“One of my [former] neighbors had a heart attack. If it weren’t for the fact that a physician happened to be jogging right by at that moment, he probably would’ve died,” east side resident Alan Richer told News10.

Without the third fire station up and running yet, members of the community became worried that a contract with a neighboring town would slow response times even more.

Saratoga Springs had recently been in talks with the town of Greenfield about a deal to provide them with EMS coverage on their southeastern part of town.

The vote on the contract had been rescheduled on the city council’s agenda, and then dropped.

Former mayor of Saratoga Springs, Joanne Yepsen, who lives in the eastern part of the city, says she was encouraged by many concerned residents to create a petition against the contract.

In a statement to News10, Yepsen says:

I was asked to start the petition by numerous concerned residents. We are thrilled the petition had an impact. Even though the Greenfield proposal is no longer on the table, the petition to the City Council still stands and continues to get signatures, asking that the priority of city resources focus on the growing health and safety needs of city tax paying residents.

Joanne Yepsen, former mayor of Saratoga Springs

The contract is not moving forward, according to Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin. However, he tells News10 the Greenfield deal would’ve given the city positive revenue, and added that it would not have slowed response times. He says the only services they would’ve provided to the town are ambulances.

In a statement to News10, Martin says, in part:

The proposed agreement with the Town of Greenfield had a one-year term, but would have been cancelable on 60 days’ notice.  In summary, our fire department professionals had analyzed all of the service requirements for the portion of Greenfield discussed in the proposed contract, and had concluded that SSFD could fulfill those requirements while retaining the ability to maintain the level of service currently expected of the Fire Department. Once again, we will not be moving forward with this agreement at this time.

Peter Martin, Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner

News10 also reached out to the Saratoga Springs Fire Chief, Joseph Dolan, for an update on the third station, and he referred us to the mayor’s office.

News10 reached out to Mayor Kelly electronically and in-person for an update on the third fire station, and have not heard back.

Dennis McGhan, chair of the Waters Edge/Woodlands Neighborhood EMS Committee told News10 that the recent proposal to provide ambulance coverage to part of Greenfield renewed interest in their continuing efforts to have a third station.

In a statement to News10, McGhan says:

The proposed arrangement for land for the station is still in process and hopefully will be finalized soon. Mayor Meg Kelly has been the driving force behind the current effort. Robin Dalton is the incoming Public Safety Commissioner, and it remains to be seen who will coordinate the effort going forward…

Dennis McGhan, chair of the Waters Edge/Woodlands Neighborhood EMS Committee

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