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Lions are mane attraction at Saratoga city hall

It's been decades since they stood watch over the steps to City Hall.

Sometime in the early part of the last century, city crews recapped the front steps and tore the two 300-pound metal-casted lions from each end. They were dispersed to the corners of the city: the east- and west-side recreational facilities.

Now, Department of Public Works officials are again recapping the front steps as part of $150,000 in renovations and bringing the unnamed, maned statues back.

The steps have been closed off now for a couple of months. They've been chipping away, said Anthony "Skip" Scirocco, Public Works commissioner.

A small path has been cleared to one side of the steps to allow people in as crews continue work on them. To save money, city crews are conducting the demolition work, getting down to the original footprint of the steps, said Scirocco. Then contractors will be brought in to finish framing and capping the stone steps. A final design has yet to be chosen, but Scirocco said he'd like to get it as close to the original circa-1900 layout as possible.

For now, the lions remain in the Charles A. McTygue Memorial City Garage in the west side. They were moved there from their respective posts at the recreational facilities, where they sat for decades at the fields, serving as playthings. They were eventually rescued, restored and tucked away, and have been under the watchful eye of public works carpenters.

"I played on these things when I was a kid 40 years ago. We had them refurbished a year ago. We've just been waiting on the steps to put them out," said Mike Butterfield, public works carpenters shop foreman.

The lions were built to take a beating, he said. The two have been sitting amid parking signs and shop fans. The crews work around them, said Butterfield.

If they get in the way, it takes two men to wrestle the statues aside.

Scirocco's plan for the steps, other than reaffixing the lions, includes installing in ground heating on the steps to melt ice and snow. The same systems have been used in many new and refurbished building along Broadway. They no longer need to use ice melt or salt, said Scirocco, and their stairs and sidewalks survive the winters crack-free.""

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