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Call For Saratoga Springs Public Safety Facility Follows Recent Deaths

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After two recent deaths, officials in Saratoga Springs are discussing the need for a new public safety building on the city’s east side. But, as WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports, the project has been stalled for years.

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, Saratoga Springs resident Don Colosimo appeared before the microphone. He explained that just a few days earlier, while hosting a dinner party, one of his guests had a medical emergency. They called 911.

“It took ‘em over 10 minutes to arrive,” said Colosimo. “The firetruck arrived about five minutes later. After the EMT’s arrived, they had placed the AED panels on my friend. And I could see the display. It was flat. But that didn’t stop them. They worked very hard on him. They transported him to Saratoga Hospital where he died at 7:07.”

Colosimo’s home is located near Saratoga Lake, on the city’s east side.

“I sort of wonder now, that instead of having a 10-minute ride before they placed the paddles on him, if they were dispatched not from our main fire station, but from our fabulous east side public safety facility…that was only a five-minute ride from my house, it might have saved my friend,” said Colosimo. “But wait. We don’t have a public safety east side facility. It’s not even on your budget to have one. We don’t count on the east side?”

An east side public safety building has been a long debated topic in Saratoga Springs — sought by elected officials for years.

In 2014, the city council approved the sale of a downtown parking lot on Broadway for $775,000, in exchange for parcel on Union Avenue for $200,000, the site where officials hoped to build a fire/EMS station.

That deal was quashed after a lawsuit brought by former city officials claimed the city-owned land was undervalued.

Following Colosimo, resident Sam Brewer spoke to the council. He brought up the issue of traffic flow on the east side, a topic he originally wrote to the city about two years ago.

“I think I stood before the council three or four times and mentioned the same thing. But I was out on the 31st of July teaching my young daughter to drive. She’s 16 years old. And I put this in front of you…a woman at the corner of Gilbert Ave and Union was killed in a fatal accident and we happened to come across that accident and had to detour around it,” said Brewer.

The victim, 76-year-old Diane Rosenthal, was struck by another vehicle while turning onto Route 9P from Gilbert Road. She was transported to Albany Medical Center where she died.

Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin, who previously served as a county supervisor for Saratoga Springs, responded to the comments.

“I agree that our city would be better served if we had a fire/EMS station on the east side. We are in some discussion right now looking for some property in that regard. But I would not want there to be a misapprehension that the death was a result of a failure to get to that scene in a timely fashion,” said Martin.

Martin, speaking about the incident involving Rosenthal, said EMS workers arrived promptly.

“Again, I don’t want to draw a line between the response time in this one particular instance and the result. Because I think the response time in this particular instance was in the standards, it was four-and-a-half minutes from receiving that EMS…that dispatch call,” said Martin.

Regarding funding for a public safety facility on the east side, Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan the city has money that can be made available.

“We have a six-year-long capital program, and while we don’t have the land right now, it is in the program which allows us to potentially amend the capital budget when we find the right parcel for an east side fire/EMS,” said Madigan.

Mayor Meg Kelly said she’s been focused on the issue since before she took office.

“It’s not like we’re not working on it, it’s just a difficult situation. So hopefully we can find a piece of land here in a short window,” said Kelly.

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