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Kayakers rescue colt sculpture

Saratoga Springs-- Work of art stolen from Broadway found beneath Thruway bridge

By DENNIS YUSKO Staff writer
First published: Wednesday, July 31, 2002

A mellow kayak trip down the Schoharie Creek with friends turned into a rescue adventure for a Schenectady woman, her family and friends after they spotted a stolen colt sculpture that had been missing from its spot on Broadway for a week.

Barbara Blanchard of Schenectady and Julie Smolinski of Connecticut found "My Petite Fleur," a colt sculpture designed and painted by artist Linda Peterson, underneath a State Thruway bridge crossing in Florida, Montgomery County.

The important find was made Saturday while kayaking in separate boats with her husband, Art Edelstein, her daughter Rachel Edelstein, 13, Smolinski, 15, and friend Teresa Kennedy.

"We're just kayaking down this deserted stream and there's this horse right in the middle of the water in perfect condition," Blanchard said.

As soon as the bobbing colt came into sight, Blanchard had an idea of what it was. She saw the 23-horse and colt art collection while perusing Saratoga recently, although she wasn't aware that two had been stolen from their perches.

"I remembered this one. I couldn't believe it," Blanchard said.
The flower-covered horse, which had been stolen by a still unknown assailant from its spot near the Post Office, was partially submerged in about three feet of water.

"I suspect someone dropped it from the Thruway," she said. "I'm sure it was not in water for a week."
Blanchard and Smolinski carried the ornate sculpture to shore and contacted the others, who were still at a boat launch, by walkie talkie. After telling them of their discovery, Art Edelstein drove the family's van down a small dirt road to underneath the bridge.

Moments later, they telephoned the Saratoga Springs Police Department and told them of their find. Blanchard wrapped the colt in a blanket and a hat for the ride back to the city, lest someone see the artwork and report them.

Police and members of the Saratoga County Arts Council, which helped bring the horse collection into town in June, were overjoyed by Blanchard's arrival.

"We are jubilant. We're just thrilled," said Dee Sarno, executive director of the arts council.
Sarno said she was "just so impressed with the people that found her." She said the colt was in good shape and would be back on the street by next week.

"She has some minor scrapes, bruises and some slashes that will have to be repaired. Amazingly, she was not that heavily damaged," Sarno said.

"The horse seems to be in pretty good condition. It did have water in it," Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Curley said about the sculpture that leaked water after it arrived at the city station house.

Curley praised the two friends for notifying the city about the statue. He also warned visitors that they can enjoy themselves while in the city, but not to go to as far as the vandals did who stole the horse.

"We don't want you to cross a line where you're part of the problem and not part of the fun," the commissioner said.
A horse statue dubbed "Talk of the Town" that was knocked off its base and broken will be repaired and put up again in front of City Hall by week's end, Sarno said.

Blanchard said she didn't need a reward for the find.
"Our reward was just being a part of this whole thing," Blanchard said.

Spa City plots fight on vandals Saratoga Springs

Three people arrested in theft of horse sculpture, but more steps needed, officials say

By KENNETH C. CROWE II, Staff writer

First published: Friday, August 2, 2002

An announcement that three Amsterdam residents have been arrested by city police for stealing a small colt sculpture off Broadway on July 20 was greeted with loud applause from about 50 people meeting Thursday at city hall to discuss battling vandalism.

While the arrests Thursday of Eric P. Ross II, 20, Christopher D. Villanova, 18, and a 15-year-old girl allegedly resolved the mystery of who abducted the flower-painted colt named "My Petit Fleur" on July 20, it did not resolve the community debate over vandalism.

Though the meeting was called by Democratic Mayor Ken Klotz, Republican Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Curley drove the agenda, saying that reports of vandalism and related crimes are on the decline. Curley also outlined possible remedies, nearly all of which called for getting the community involved in looking out for and reporting vandals.

"People are making a lot of assumptions," Curley said. "This police department works hard to make Saratoga Springs a safe city."

Klotz, who has received criticism from police officers about his recent call for increased patrols downtown, said, "The police department, the individual police officers do a great job."

Curley cited department statistics showing complaints about disorderly conduct, vandalism, graffiti and similar crimes have declined, from 631 in 1998 to 548 in 1999 to 525 in 2000 and to 413 in 2001. He said the incidents appear to be trending lower this year.

The concerns about vandalism have come about as a result of vandalism to five of the 23 horse sculptures along Broadway. Dee Sarno, executive director of the Saratoga County Arts Council, which is backing the horse exhibit, said similar sculptures have been vandalized in other cities.

The city's bar and restaurant owners had a strong presence at the forum called by Klotz. Previous discussions by the mayor and other officials to have the bars close at 2 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. drew the owners.

"It's been blown out of proportion considering the number of people we have in town," John Baker, owner of Gaffney's on Caroline Street, said.

Jim Hogan, owner of Newberry's on Broadway, said, "They put 23 horses out on Broadway. The police department is stretched to the maximum."

Hogan said the bars are not to blame. Other owners repeated this refrain, saying that cutting two hours of business would not hurt only them but their employees and the city economy. They have agreed to work with the city and the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce about possible actions to take.

The proposals made by Curley included creation of a reward fund for reporting vandalism, which chamber President Joseph Dalton said would be in place shortly. Curley also recommended a neighborhood watch program for Broadway; getting cab drivers to report any crimes, which is being done; hire temporary employees; and installing surveillance cameras, which Curley said he opposes. Curley is to report back at the City Council meeting Tuesday on these and any other suggestions.

Ross and Villanova were charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and petit larceny and are to appear this morning in City Court. They face up to four years in prison if convicted. The 15-year-old's case was sent to Family Court.

Patrick Hutchins, a 22-year-old Skidmore College junior, was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday for allegedly stealing and vandalizing another horse sculpture.


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