As a parking garage is being constructed in downtown Saratoga Springs – something debated in the Spa City since 1992 – one city councilor believes more should be done to accommodate city-owned vehicles.
Following up on comments made at the previous city council meeting two weeks ago, Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco introduced an agenda item Tuesday night to discuss what he sees as a need to provide additional parking for city vehicles beside a 600-vehicle parking structure that is being built to accommodate the quasi-public Saratoga Springs City Center.
Under a lease signed last year with the Saratoga Springs City Center Authority, the city will be provided 60 spaces within the garage to be used free-of-charge between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
An adjacent lot currently used for city vehicles would be graded and turned into green space, which would connect to an extension of a multi-use trail.
Scirocco, however, hopes this adjacent lot can be used for additional parking for city vehicles, which includes city hall employee and police vehicles – at least until a design plan is drawn up for the open space.
“I don’t believe we have any plans to do anything at this point in time, so until we do, I think we utilize it as a city-owned parking lot and then when we come up with Phase Two, as my understanding, then we can do whatever we need to do there. But I think until we do that, it makes more sense for us to utilize it for city-owned and employee parking, just for our own use there,” said Scirocco.
Mayor Meg Kelly, however, was not receptive to the idea of using the designated green space for city vehicles.
“I don’t agree with this, I think it it’s a bait-and-switch,” said Kelly.
“You can call it what you want, mayor…” answered Scirocco.
“It’s absolutely necessary that we have parking for our own city…”
“You don’t have to argue with me…”
“I’m not arguing with you, I’m just telling you it’s absolutely necessary that we have parking for or own city vehicles. These are vehicles that we use every day.”
Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton worried that any change in how the land would be used now could result in a delay on the long-awaited project. Scirocco said he didn’t believe it would lead to legal conflict.
“As far as any legal or any lawsuit, I’m going by what the lease said. It says the current use. Current use? It’s currently used as a parking lot,” said Scirocco.
Tom Roohan, who chairs the City Center Authority, told WAMC he wouldn’t be opposed to the space beside the garage being used for city-owned vehicles, “as long as it was for city vehicles only.”
But some who pushed for a piece of open space are likely to become more wary, including Art Holmberg, who chairs the group Sustainable Saratoga.
“We will definitely be submitting something in opposition to this,” said Holmberg.
Holmberg says he thinks the planned garage’s 60 spaces reserved for city vehicles will be enough, and wants the green space to remain open to pedestrians.
“Personally I’d like to see a park or some lawn…bike racks, and an opportunity for people to have an awning or some shade their naturally so they could come out and use the park itself,” said Holmberg.