Ballston Spa village board approves fairgrounds use permit
BALLSTON SPA The Ballston Spa Village Board of Trustees approved an agreement Monday that will require large events at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds to obtain a mass-gathering permit.
The deal also will require organizers of events anywhere in the village to get a gathering permit if they will attract 5,000 or more people.
The agreement was hammered out between the village and representatives of the fairgrounds after some special events last year drew large crowds that caused traffic backups and one event was canceled when a radio station promoter didn’t address the village’s concerns.
“This will address the village’s concerns and at the same time allow events like these to continue to occur,” said Mayor John P. Romano.
“We’re pleased,” said William Schwerd, president of the Saratoga County Agricultural Society, the nonprofit organization that runs the fairgrounds. “The idea was to go through a process of understanding everyone else’s concerns.”
Under the deal, a mass-gathering permit must be sought at least 60 days before a planned event and the village board will make a decision within two weeks whether to grant it. Applicants are required to state hours of operation (somewhere between 7 a.m. and midnight), estimate crowd size and spell out anticipated travel routes, security arrangements and whether alcohol will be available. If police, fire department and ambulance assistance is needed, the organizers must pay for it.
A permit could be revoked for violations.
The annual Saratoga County Fair, political rallies and activities of nonprofit organizations are exempt.
The new system was developed by a committee that includes village board members, fair representatives and representatives of the fire department, police department, emergency medical services and local citizens.
Some residents living along Bath Street have complained about nighttime noise levels from the fairgrounds, but Romano said that issue will be addressed through separate negotiations with the fair.
Fairgrounds general manager Jeff Townsend said the village has always been the first entity informed of proposed events, even though it was never done in writing.
Fair officials expect to rent the grounds for more special events in the future, though no new events have yet been set for 2013. They said large crowds coming to the fairgrounds from elsewhere benefit village businesses.
“We’re looking to be an economic driver,” Townsend said.