Madigan Discusses City Center Issues In Saratogian Reader’s View

In a Reader’s View piece in the March 9th Saratogian, Commissioner Madigan  lays out her arguments as to why she supports the City Center’s proposed  parking structure.  She also notes that she plans to ask the Council to vote on the lease with the City Center at an April City Council meeting.

It gives a valuable history of the City Center’s process to build a parking structure that is well worth reading.

In her piece, she asserts that the “Technical Review Committee said they could not recommend either proposal…” To be fair, while the committee identified many serious deficiencies in the two proposals, it was not the charge of the committee to make an actual recommendation to the council.  The following is from the city’s web site:

Posted on: February 26, 2016

High Rock Park Technical Review Committee Presentation

The High Rock Lot RFP Technical Review Committee (TRC) was appointed by the City Council in late 2015 to produce a clear, understandable, and objective comparison of the two proposals received in response to a RFP issued by the City, seeking a mixed-use project that would also accommodate a variety of parking needs.


 

Michele Madigan Reader’s View: Commissioner discusses High Rock lot

Posted: 03/09/16, 1:00 AM EST |

Madigan Picture

I want to clarify certain facts regarding the City Center’s plans to build a parking structure, and clear up any confusion amongst members of the public regarding the city’s RFP to develop the entire High Rock parking lot. It is important to note that the City Center Authority is not a private entity; it was created by a legislative act of New York state to carry out governmental functions. The mayor is an ex-officio member, and the Finance commissioner acts as its agent, empowered to examine its accounts, finances, contracts, and leases, among other things. As such, the City Center and the city have a very close working relationship that is written into New York state law.

The City Center approached the City Council Nov. 20, 2012, with a proposal to lease a portion of the High Rock lot upon which they would build – at their expense – a facility to provide much needed parking. The lack of covered and connected parking for vendors and exhibitors to unload marketing materials and wares at City Center events places them at a competitive disadvantage, which will worsen once competing local convention facilities are open for business. This is unfortunate, as the City Center is a vital part of our local economy, drawing thousands of visitors each year to our hotels, restaurants and retail establishments, supporting local businesses and generating tax revenues that fund our government and help keep our property tax rates stable.

At that meeting the Council agreed unanimously to allow the City Center to move forward with its plans. Although questioning the proposed $1 lease payment and resulting financials, I did offer my support, as did Commissioners Scirocco and Mathiesen, and Mayor Johnson. Commissioner Franck said that this was the best High Rock lot proposal that he had ever seen; he’d “worked the numbers” and was in full support. Soon thereafter, the City Center issued an RFP, receiving several responses and selecting one. Their plans have been subject to numerous public discussions, which resulted in several modifications. The current plan to lease approximately two-thirds of the lot and build a parking structure (that includes space for community events) on half of the leased land, with the city retaining development rights for the other half, has received all of the necessary approvals from the city’s various land use boards.

While the above was transpiring, several local residents expressed reservations about these plans, suggesting a grander multi-use development of the entire High Rock lot that would simultaneously meet the needs of the City Center and provide other opportunities. The Council unanimously agreed to explore this alternative, and in the summer of 2015 the city issued an RFP soliciting proposals to develop the entire lot. The City Center’s original RFP was focused on meeting the demonstrated downtown parking needs, with a structure occupying a portion of the High Rock lot, which they would pay to build. The purpose of the subsequent RFP issued by the city was to solicit plans to develop the entire High Rock lot while meeting those parking needs, which the City Center would not fund. The Council clearly stated that while we were issuing this RFP, and would be reviewing subsequent proposals, the City Center should continue to move forward with its plans. The city received two responses to this RFP, and the Council appointed the Technical Review Committee to review the proposals. At a special City Council meeting Feb. 25, 2016, the Technical Review Committee said they could not recommend either proposal due to parking, financing, urban form, and engineering concerns.

The city has been negotiating the aforementioned lease with the City Center since 2013; I assumed responsibility for these negotiations in September 2014. Given that the City Center has received all necessary approvals for their plans, and the Technical Review Committee’s concerns regarding the two High Rock lot development proposals, I presented this lease to the public and the Council on March 1, 2016. I plan to ask the Council to make a decision regarding the lease in April. If the Council approves this lease then the City Center will be able to move forward with their plans – leaving approximately two-thirds of the High Rock lot available for future development.

Michele Madigan is commissioner of Finance for the city of Saratoga Springs

 

4 thoughts on “Madigan Discusses City Center Issues In Saratogian Reader’s View”

  1. John
    I probably shouldn’t be using your venue for my comment, but the Commissioner’s letter brought back the memory of our wonderful Convention Hall. Unfortunately, it burned in 1965.

    Older Saratogians will remember the high school basketball games, the wrestling matches, boxing, graduations and many, many more. We all expected that a new convention hall would be rebuilt. Maybe not on the original site, because of the parking limitations. But we expected the same type of building would be re-built somewhere in Saratoga Springs.

    Instead, Glens Falls got the Civic Center. Albany got the Times Union Center. We got the Civic Center. People were disappointed. The public was left out in the cold, no input. Like now…..no input.

    I do think that Comm. Madigan has been doing an outstanding job for our city. But does she remember the old days, and the various events that could be held at the old Hall? They exist now, only in our memories. All good memories.

    She began her “history” of the new Parking Garage RFP, in 2012. I sure wish she could bring us back to 1965 so we could see how things brought us to this point in time. Congrats to the success of the Civic Center. Job well done.

    Like

  2. John, you said that Madigan’s article “lays out her arguments as to why she supports the City Center’s proposed parking structure”, yet the article merely contains facts and ni discussion whatsoever of what Madigan “supports”. Abd for some reason you also throw in a non sequitur about the charge of the Technical Review Committee. Whether or not they were asked to make an actual recommendation, they made it very clear that both responses to the High Rock RFP were seriosuly flawed, which is all she said about the matter. There are no factual inaccuracies in Madigan’s article that I am aware of and I for one am happy that she took the time to write down facts in such a calm, sober, neutral manner.

    Liked by 1 person

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