Key Deadline Approaches For Saratoga Parking Garage

Sep 25, 2015

Credit Lucas Willard / WAMC

While many agree that downtown Saratoga needs more parking, there has been an intense debate as to how to go about it in a city that is quickly filling up with new development.

This week a revised plan for a downtown parking garage by the Saratoga Springs City Center was made public. The standalone, paid-parking structure has been at the center of intense debate for more than a year.

Meanwhile, a request for proposals for alternative designs is closing next week.

Mark Baker, president of the Saratoga Springs City Center, said the modified design submitted to the city in mid-August would still accommodate about 500 vehicles.

“The modifications have been minor in scope. It’s certainly the same principal of mass and scale. It’s still a parking facility, and we’ve taken great, great measures to listen to the comments we’ve received from community groups as well as neighbors,” said Baker.

The structure would stand at its zone-allowed 70-feet. The proposed connector from the garage to the City Center is a bit narrower.

But David Pedinotti, owner of the neighboring Mouzon House restaurant, which has been at the center of the hubbub, still takes issue with the plan.

“ The plan is just totally unacceptable. It does not work for the area. It’s a big box. It doesn’t work for Saratoga and they just need to realize that,” said Pedinotti.

Pedinotti, as well as a group called Citizens for High Rock, have argued for a structure that incorporates a mixed-use strategy, featuring retail and other amenities.

Pedinotti says the 70-foot plan would also impact the restaurant’s rooftop solar panels.

On Tuesday, an Request For Proposals issued by the city on alternative plans will expire. At an August 18th city council meeting, Public Works commissioner “Skip” Scirocco offered his ideas on the parallel between the City Center’s plan and the RFP for new ideas.

“Let the City Center continue to do what they’re doing, let the RFP take its roots, and we’ll have to just take it from there,” said Scirocco.

Pedinotti said he is watching closely if any alternative designs are brought forward, and that the City Center should take note.

“This RFP could have some very nice ideas. And that if the city can work with the developer, we’ll have a very nice mixed-use area.”

Baker said the City Center Authority will have a “front-row seat” Tuesday to see any new ideas.

“The RFP did call for accommodations to be made to meet the City Center’s needs, which was certainly the number of parking spaces, as well as a connector. So we’re going to be looking at those two factors very closely. “

Baker said the plan proposed by the City Center would not impact city finances.