Saratoga Springs Parking Debate Continues
A concept for a new parking structure in downtown Saratoga Springs has been unveiled. It’s the latest in a years-long debate that has stalled the development of a garage to serve downtown businesses and the Saratoga Springs City Center.
Earlier this month, a special Saratoga Springs city council meeting was held for the newly proposed Flat Rock Park project.
The plan calls for the redevelopment of a city-owned lot downtown, adjacent to City Hall and the Saratoga Springs City Center.
Consisting of a multi-tiered garage with more than 700 parking spaces, commercial space, a greenway connector trail, and the installation of a pocket park and restoration of the Flat Rock spring, the concept designed by the LA Group is a result of several meetings held over the last few months involving a working group convened by Mayor Meg Kelly, who took office in January.
Two members of the working group were Dianne and David Pedinotti, who own the Mouzon House restaurant, located next to the conceptual parking structure.
The Pedinottis opposed a previous parking plan supported by the Saratoga Springs City Center and had sued the city over the project. But David Pedinotti said he can’t complain about the new concept, which is six levels counting the ground level and 65 feet tall.
“It’s not perfect, but nothing ever is. But still, everyone had their input. And that what a good government does,” said Pedinotti.
But there remains a group arguing against siting a new parking structure in the middle of downtown called Citizens for High Rock.
The group also opposed a planned standalone parking structure for the City Center. The group has advocated for a large public space to be opened up downtown and has argued against the creation of another “dead zone” used for parking automobiles.
Current chair of Citizens for High Rock Ian Klepetar said enough parking already exists in Saratoga Springs. The biggest issue, he says, is management.
Downtown Saratoga Springs has a patchwork of parking options, including some paid lots, but no paid street parking. Other public garages within the city remain free, with some 48-hour spaces. Klepetar argues the city needs fewer spaces, not more.
“Creating less parking availability is the best thing a city can do because then it puts the demand on public transit. We have very low numbers of public transit,” said Klepetar.
The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce says in order to create a sustainable downtown, an all-of-the-above strategy should be taken. Chamber President and CEO Todd Shimkus…
“We’ve got to have more parking, more bike lanes, more public transportation, better sidewalks, we gotta have all of it. And to say that you could do one versus the other, or that you could manage parking so you wouldn’t have to add more – I think that is false,” said Shimkus.
During the November meeting where residents offered their ideas, city councilors also expressed their desires for the space.
Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin commented on the size of the project.
“I’m not sure that 721 – or whatever that is – is absolutely the right number of spaces. And maybe we need to have some further presentation and discussion on what is the right number of spaces.”
Mayor Kelly said all comments will be taken seriously.
“As I go forward working with the City Center, we’ll start to talk about some of these things. I’ll take them seriously and I think there’s some good ideas that were presented tonight and I thank you all for coming out,” said Kelly.