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Saratoga Group Organizes Forum On City Center Parking Garage

A parking sign
Lucas Willard

In a city with exponential development and a strong downtown identity, conversation around a proposed parking garage in Saratoga Springs continues as a group of concerned citizens has organized a public forum on the project this weekend.

Just a few hundred feet from the Saratoga Springs City Center is High Rock Park, one of the city’s oldest historical attractions. The stretch of green at the base of a cliff is known for its springs and also serves as a summer home for the local farmers market.

The amount of space between the park and the City Center is limited, and as the City Center is developing an approved parking garage, concerned residents have spoken out about the project for months. The topic has dominated public meetings and hearings, and now a new group wants additional input.  

Citizens for High Rock, a newly formed group of city residents, is inviting public officials, business owners, private citizens, and anyone with an interest in the planned parking structure to come together this weekend. 

Julie Cuneo is the group’s chair.

“What we’re looking to provide is an opportunity for people to speak out and share their vision for this property as well because there’s a lot more potential than a standalone parking garage,” said Cuneo.  

The 500-car garage has faced other concerns – notably a conflict between the 83-foot building’s design and its impact on the solar panels of the neighboring Mouzon House restaurant.

Bill Sprengnether is a landscape architect involved with the Citizens for High Rock group. He said the current design of the project would cut off a northern portion of the city from downtown. Because space is tight on the property, he said much of the property would be needed to move cars in and out.

”Even though the existing parking proposal only takes up the very north end of the project site, because of the vehicular circulation it extends far to the south.”

Sprengnether said he wants to see the standalone parking garage incorporated into a mixed-use structure.

“I don’t think this group, nor myself, would say ‘let’s not have a parking garage.’ I think we’re saying ‘let’s plan it comprehensively so that we get a parking plus a lot of other cool stuff.’”

City Center president Mark Baker was out of the office Thursday, but told WAMC in May that the City Center is committed to working with all who have concerns.

“We still have to maintain the basic premise that we need the parking – which has been agreed to by everybody,  that it does need to connect to the City Center, which is an important component  for us – and again, we continue to have a dialogue with all the variables and all the organizations that have registered and their concern and their support of this project.”

Cuneo said she plans to meet with Baker on Monday and said that the comments offered at the forum will be shared with city government officials.

“We would like to record the comments and provide them to the city council, and we’re hoping that our vision and what’s discussed and raised up is considered.”

The forum is scheduled for Sunday from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Saratoga Springs Public Library.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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