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Saranac Thursdays continue with full police presence

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The 2012 Saranac Thursday season kicked off Thursday night bringing over one thousand people down to Utica's Varick Street. Despite the city's budget cuts, a full police force was there to patrol the street thanks to its bars chipping in.

"The administration quickly learned that we could no longer afford to have as many police officers down here as we have in the past," says Utica Police Sergeant Steve Hauck. "It's very costly, and basically what happened was we went to the association and explained to them that we were going to have to change the way we did business."

Varick Street bar owners uncomfortable with the thought of less police on the street for the Thursday nights decided to create a solution, making an offer to the city to subsidize their expense.

"Without a doubt we really wanted their police protection," says Steven Klosek who owns Sickenburger Lane, along with The Varick and The Stievfater Room. "The bigger bars pay a little more, the smaller bars pay a little less, but we're all in agreement that we do need them on the street."

To offset the cost of security many bars are charging $1 to get in, however patrons and owners say it's worth the cost.

"100 percent," says Ted Kondzielawa, owner of BLU. "We all have a security team within our facilities, I have a 15 man security force, he has a 20 man security force next door, it's not so much security in the clubs but what it is on the streets."

The agreement allowing the same amount of police to stay on Varick Street to ensure another season of Thursday fun.

"I think we should keep it forever," says Patrick Mullen. "Everybody looks forward to it, it's all anyone talks about in the spring and when the summer is coming up ... so definitely a great thing to have in the area."

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