At his annual State of the City address on February 3, Mayor Ron Kim promised to establish a task force to seek a location for the homeless by fall. The announcement came after Shelters of Saratoga withdrew its planned participation in a navigation center on Williams St. “The city has to address its homeless residents,” Kim said. “Saratoga should not shirk from its responsibility to do this. We cannot give up on this critical need of our city.”
Homelessness was just one of many issues that Kim brought up in his yearly address. He also announced that the city received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safe Streets and Roads for All program. The money will be used to examine traffic patterns throughout the city with an eye toward improving streets and sidewalks.
That includes plans to link the western part of the city with sidewalks on Grand Avenue, from Hyde Street to West Avenue, which will be the topic of a public hearing Tuesday.
“This is something the community came to us during initial City Council meetings and we have moved very quickly,” Kim said. “That’s because we have a nimble and well-meaning City Council that wants to work together.”
Throughout his address, Kim emphasized the unity among the council members, who, along with Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, sat behind him as he stood at the podium. Kim, who said he’s the first Asian-American mayor of a state city, said 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit, which he said is a symbol of peace and prosperity. Thus, he has designated 2023 as a year of hope.
Among his hopes, or promises, was a continuation of what he calls the city’s commitment to transparency and accountability. He mentioned the Nov. 20, 2022, police-involved shootout on Broadway and how he and Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino immediately released the police body camera video to the public.
“We didn’t flinch nor did the City Council in support of it,” Kim said of the video release that Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen tried to block from public view. “We immediately released all the information … Why? It was clear social media already out there saying it was something that it wasn’t. We felt it was so, so very important that people knew the truth as we knew it at that time.”
Kim also touted the $4 million in federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response funding secured to staff the city’s third fire station off of Henning Road, the three planned affordable housing projects and efforts to become carbon neutral by 2030. He also mentioned the rehabilitation of a waterfront park on Saratoga Lake, which will include the addition of a playground, more parking and updated bathrooms and work to beautify outdoor dining facilities with businesses, the Design Review Commission, the Special Assessment District Board and the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation.
“None of the projects would be possible without the participation of citizens,” said Kim who named and applauded key volunteer committee members. “People who ask us to lift our eyes to see it is possible to do it.” From the Times-Union.