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Railroad Run makes tracks to board

Previous public discussions of the project have seen vocal opposition from neighbors who believe the project will create too much traffic, noise and light. Olsen's plans now call for visual and noise barriers. Some still decry the project, prompting a "not in my backyard"-type discussion.

"I was beyond shocked to hear the neighbors complain about this," said Olsen, who said the property is currently an "eyesore." "I truly expected this to be something they would welcome."

He said that he hopes to see some of the hundreds of people who have expressed their support to him at Wednesday's Planning Board meeting.

Mayor Scott Johnson recently spoke in support of affordable housing within Saratoga Springs during his State of the City Address.

"We must as a community work continue to work toward a change of perception to increase the willingness of neighborhoods to keep an open mind and accept affordable housing in their backyard," he said.

Johnson declined to comment on the Railroad Run project specifically, but did point out that it differs from other affordable housing ventures in the city because it does not draw on public funds.

"One thing about the project that must be noted is that it's proposed solely with independent money," said Johnson.

Those other initiatives are run by the Saratoga Affordable Housing Group. With help from the city, the nonprofit group purchased 28 units on Allen Drive this summer with plans to use them for affordable housing. The branch of the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority is searching for funds to build another 15 units, as well. The group has 339 other affordable units around the city, and the demand is there to fill them.

"It's a big issue in Saratoga," said Gerard Hawthorne, facilities manager for the housing authority and a board member of the group. "We're probably the first real shot at affordable housing in Saratoga that has actually made progress."

Hawthorne said that townhouse-style units like those proposed at Railroad Run might be in the group's future, but for now the focus is on rental properties so that people of all incomes can live within the city.

"I think the politicians need to get together and make these things work and the neighborhoods need to be more proactive, because it is needed," he said.""

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