SARATOGA SPRINGS: City prepares for track meet

Ron Kim is expecting guests 30,000, in fact.

The Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner touts his department's ability to handle the surge of people that will flood Spa City from now until Labor Day.

I've always been impressed by the fact that our department responds very well on meager resources to the influx of 30,000 people coming to the track every day starting this Wednesday and ending on Labor Day," said Kim.

Kim said his department has basically four traffic officers and a sergeant who are dedicated to traffic control during the meet. They are also the team that handles truck inspections year-round.

"We basically have these two huge major tasks, and the fact that we don't hear about these huge, major bottlenecks with 30,00 people coming to the track isn't because they're all drinking at Siro's " it's because those officers do a bang-up job at dealing with that."

According to Police Chief Edward Moore, city police have adjusted their traffic management plans for the meet. These changes should be invisible to commuters, he said.

"I'm sure if we were in New York City, we'd have a lot more people used to dealing with the coming and going of 30,000 people on a daily basis," said Kim.

Kim said the only seasonal staffing his department employs are the crossing guards that stay on after the school year and work what he calls "critical intersections." According to the department's 2006 report, the city hires 28 such guards, but Moore said that three had quit just before the meet after getting higher-paying jobs elsewhere.

The city has a fire truck stationed at the track and NYRA will pay to have it staffed with firefighters. NYRA also hires firefighters who are qualified as emergency medical technicians, said Kim.

Years ago, Kim said, the city would take on seasonal law enforcement, but it no longer does.

"Becoming a year-round resort city, we try to staff year-round," said Kim. "Try" being the critical word.

Moore said the police department is presently understaffed due to retirement, disability and efforts to curb overtime spending.

Moore said his 71-person department has already prepared city business owners for the influx of people. Police have met with the owners of bars around the track to discuss parking problems and the problems that are associated with drunken patrons, such as drinking and driving, trespassing and property damage.""

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