Public Meeting on Parking Solutions

The Gazette reports that the Department of Public Safety will hold a public meeting on Thursday, November 21, at 6:30PM at the City Center to gather public input as the city prepares to seek proposals from outside consulting firms that specialize in municipal parking issues.

The article points out that the city’s success as a tourist destination means that although the city has about 2,300 public and private parking spaces in or near downtown and three parking garages, nearly all those spots are often taken even on weekdays.

Solutions proposed in the past such as charging for public parking have been dropped after being met with resistance. While the new City Center garage will be one answer to the problem, in the short term it will contribute to the problem temporarily taking away spaces in the High Rock Avenue lot during construction.

Here’s a link to the full article:

https://dailygazette.com/article/2019/11/16/saratoga-springs-looking-for-new-parking-solutions

7 thoughts on “Public Meeting on Parking Solutions”

  1. Thank you kindly John for mentioning this Forum within your blog. The intent of this forum is to allow the community the opportunity to share their voice and opinion about this particular issue. The feedback will be used to help develop guidelines for what the City would ideally need when selecting a teaming partner to identify a solution. What makes Saratoga Springs so unique is the commitment this community has to the City and passionate about what happens to the downtown core. Commissioner Martin also shares that same belief and believes the community should have an opportunity to openly speak about it.
    Event Details:
    Location: Saratoga Springs City Center
    Date: November 21, 2019
    Time: 6:30 pm
    Note: length of time for comments is 2 min.
    If one cannot attend the Forum, the City has created a dedicated email that has been assigned for monitoring: downtownparking@saratoga-springs.org

    Warm Regards,
    Amy Ryan

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  2. Can’t wait to see what happens at the Victorian Street Walk and First Night. We have an office on Lake and the most common client complaint is having trouble finding a parking spot.
    The City should consider dedicated parking (at the mall perhaps?) with dedicated shuttles running back and forth to stops along Broadway. The current situation is not good.

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  3. The City should consider dedicated parking (at the mall perhaps?) with dedicated shuttles running back and forth to stops along Broadway.

    That’s an excellent idea. Plenty of unused space at the mall. Frequent and reliable shuttles would be a great way to bring people downtown.

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  4. A Quick Look at Recent Parking and Parking Related Studies and RFPs

    Twenty-Five Years of Parking Studies

    Since 1994 there have been no less than seven (7) downtown parking “studies.”

    Some of these “studies” were ad hoc, others comprehensive. Two, with assistance from CDTC, employed consultants, others were conducted by special committees such as the 2002 “Mayor’s City Center Task Force,” the 2003 “Blue Ribbon Parking Committee” and the 2003 “Special Assessment District Parking Committee.”

    Some were relatively simple and unsophisticated, others, such as the 2006 “Downtown Transportation Plan,” were complex and rooted in a planning process designed to balance downtown development patterns and their impacts on the transportation system. Some were clinical, others more value-laden.

    But taken together they represent a significant contribution on how best to meet downtown parking needs, particularly in advance of the presumed added parking demand of an expanded City Center.

    And while not all came to the same findings, their conclusions and recommendations made were more congruent than not.

    Ultimately they all were rejected or simply ignored by City Councils unable to make public policy decisions or, as in the failure to pursue some of the recommendations in 2006 Downtown Transportation Plan, the advent of a new administration hostile to planning and lacking experience or interest in addressing complex issues.

    That particular Plan was by the far the most sophisticated and comprehensive and was financed by the Capital District Transportation Committee, a federally funded metropolitan planning organization. It still has merit and deserves to be reviewed as part on any new initiative.

    I hope that all these previous studies will at least become references as the new efforts begin.

    Parking and Related RFPs

    Added to these initiatives were several City Council released Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to develop existing City owned off street parking lots including the High Rock Avenue property, the Woodlawn Avenue lot and the so-called “Lillian’s” Broadway parking facility.

    In April 2007 the City solicited RFPs seeking private sector construction of at least 300 parking spaces on Woodlawn Avenue. The Woodlawn Avenue site was also, at that time, one of the two preferred sites to host the then proposed Public Safety Facility.

    In June of 2007 a response to the RFP was received. The proposal included construction of a 52,000 square foot Public Safety/Court Facility and a 500 space-parking garage which would have been transferred the City as part of a lease — buy back concept. The Council never responded.

    On November 19, 2008, three proposals were received to develop a parking garage, a public safety facility and other uses including a cinema, “workforce” housing, retail and other commercial uses on the City’s High Rock Avenue property.

    These proposals also offered an opportunity to provide essential additional off street parking to support an expanded City Center (a need considered essential by the City Center Task Force.)

    Some of the studies and responses to the referenced RFPs called for “paid parking” to finance additional parking structures, maintain existing parking facilities and construct a public safety facility. One response to the 2008 RFP included a one time upfront payment to the City of $4.5 million.

    The then City Councils – having solicited those proposals — chose, as had been their custom, to essentially ignore them.

    Of course now a parking garage to be integrated with the City Center is under construction and the Lillian’s lot has appropriately redeveloped.

    Parking Fees as an Operating Budget Revenue

    While some of the referenced studies and essentially all of the responses to Council issued RFPs suggested some form of “paid” parking, none of the revenue would have been earmarked for operating expenses. Rather, parking generated revenue would go to capital projects and parking facility maintenance.

    It will be recalled that in 2009 the City budget officer included an anticipated “paid parking” revenue in the 2010 Operating Budget. That should never have been budgeted. It was a non-existent revenue source that was never endorsed by the City Council and was known to lack broad community support.

    Under the direction of the then commissioner of finance, a RFP was prepared and released in January. Less than two (2) pages of the 19 page RFP actually addressed the request’s Intent, Specifications, and Deliverables. The entire SCOPE OF WORK AND SPECIFICATIONS were presented in only one paragraph.

    The RFP failed to even incorporate by reference the parking studies that had previously been prepared or note the City’s current parking enforcement program, its costs and the revenues it generates.

    The essence of the request was this: “The City is expecting $1.3 million in 2010 paid parking revenue …” Little wonder that some potential respondents elected to ignore the RFP. The RFP was poorly constructed and lacked the specificity and references to fully acquaint potential vendors with existing dynamics.

    Of course nothing ever came from it except a built in $1.3 million revenue deficit..

    But that was nearly ten years ago. The current City Council seems much more adept in defining policy and able to design, fund and install needed program and capital improvements.

    Paid parking as a potential Operating Budget revenue should be rejected. If some form of paid parking is deemed to have merit, the revenue must be used — as past studies and recommendations have suggested — to install and maintain needed additional parking facilities and other essential infrastructure.

    Lew Benton
    02/27/2010, 11/21/2019

    Liked by 1 person

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