SARATOGA SPRINGS – With a cry of “nobody is watching the cameras,” the city’s Commissioner of Public Works created a new position in his department to monitor video in Congress Park.

Anthony “Skip” Scirocco said that the position for dispatch supervisor at $29.65 an hour would be effective immediately. However, at this moment, DPW does not have access to watch the numerous live feed cameras trained on the park statuary that often falls victim to vandals in the night. Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan said it hasn’t been done because “it cost money.”

Madigan also argued against the position, saying it’s not in the budget.

“We usually do these things through the budget,” Madigan said at a City Council meeting. “This wasn’t approved through the 2020 budget. I’m not sure why it’s on the agenda right now.”

Scirocco said that this was the third time he asked for the position, which will be given to a current DPW employee, a woman not named.

“We discussed this at budget time,” Scirocco told Madigan in the meeting. “It was in the budget and taken out of the budget. It’s important we have someone watching these cameras over there. … We have cameras in the park and nobody’s looking at them.”


Scirocco’s demand for someone to watch the cameras comes after a 1875 Civil War monument was toppled and smashed into pieces last month. The DPW is now working on either repairing the statute of a Union soldier or finding a duplicate that can be laser scanned and reproduced. Just weeks before that, the newly restored Trask staircase into the park was spraypainted in red with graffiti.

“I would never bring a position to the table if I didn’t think it was necessary, especially now,” said Scirocco alluding to the city’s looming budget deficit, that could top out at $17 million, brought on by the pandemic. “But it makes more sense to do it now than ever…. If you don’t want to OK it, don’t OK it.”

He said the DPW is “getting a bad rap,” being blamed for the vandalism that has plagued the park for years. In addition to this year’s destruction of the monument and sullying of the stairs, the arms of Spit and Spat, the marble fountain sculptures, were knocked off and shattered in 2000. In 2005, the pine branch held in the hand of the Spirit of Life was snapped off. In 2013, two Navy recruits were charged in the destruction of Pan, another park sculpture. In 2017, vandals destroyed the 1876 cast-iron urns, known as Day and Night.

The park is closed after dark, but the problems persist.

“The last thing I want to see is vandalism in the park,” Scirocco said. “The cameras are only as good as the people watching them. Someone has to take the responsibility … It’s not me who doesn’t care, it’s the council who doesn’t care.”

Scirocco, a Republican who usually teams with Madigan on issues, said the new position would only cost the city an additional $2,900 a year for additional pay to an employee who has been working out of title. Scirocco did not return a Times Union call on Friday to clarify who would be taking on the role and if they would be watching in the overnight hours.

Marilyn Rivers, the city’s director of risk and safety, said the city has “a robust state-of-the-art security camera system on all city property.” Right now, she said that there is a live feed to the police department, capturing Congress Park, City Hall, the Woodlawn parking garage, the Recreation Center, the water treatment plant and other city buildings. She also said that the DPW garage at 211 Division St. has all the equipment to hook into the system. But it needs a transmission line to make it go live, which Madigan said was too costly at this time.

That upset Scirocco because the council just agreed to spend $6,000 on a mask-up Saratoga campaign, a public relations move to encourage everyone to wear a mask.

“We have money for a campaign for a mask, this absolutely makes no sense,” he said.

Madigan, a Democrat and the only council member to vote against the new DPW position in a 3-1 vote (Commissioner of Accounts John Franck was absent), told Scirocco that “this is completely the wrong way to go about getting a new position.”

“If this is how we are going to do it, then what’s the point of the budget?” Madigan asked. “This was not approved in the budget and I’m disappointed that my council members went and supported it.”

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