The Saratoga Springs City Council voted unanimously to request that the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors seek approval from the New York State Liquor Authority to require bars in the city to close by 2 AM rather than the current closing time of 4 AM.
The County and the NYS Liquor Authority, rather than the city, decide the hours that alcohol can be served, and the city’s two representatives to county government do not appear to be supportive of the city’s request.
Fueled by alcohol and an increasingly aggressive and volatile party culture, the late night, downtown bar scene has become difficult to police. Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton told the council, “It’s become clear to us through analytics and arrests that the hours of 2-to-4 a.m. are unquestionably posing a public safety risk to the community at large. We cannot let this public safety threat go on.”
Police Chief Shane Crooks told the council, “We have seen a large increase in calls for service and the number of people. The people we end up dealing with that late at night are highly intoxicated.”
According to the Daily Gazette story, Saratoga Springs’ representatives to the County Board of Supervisors, Tara Gaston(D) and Matthew Veitch(R) were less than enthusiastic about the county acting to address this problem. They cautioned that the process would be protracted. The Gazette reported that “…they [Gaston and Veitch] wanted to hear from bar owners and other stakeholders in what could be a lengthy committee process before forming an opinion of whether the county should approve the city’s request.”
Veitch noted that both the county and state Liquor Authority would have to hold public hearings on a potential change – if the proposal gets that far.
“You are talking several months at a minimum, if it even passes the county,” he said. “We have bars downtown that serve patrons and police and sheriff; there are multiple factors at issue. I’ll keep an open mind and let the process run its course.”Daily Gazette August 3
The Caroline Street scene has long been problematic, and there have been other appeals from the city to the county over the years to restrict bar hours. All have been rejected by the County Board of Supervisors.
It is troubling that our two Supervisors are apparently unwilling to be advocates on behalf of the city regarding a solution to this ongoing problem.
3 thoughts on “Tepid Response To Closing City Bars Early from Supervisors Tara Gaston and Matthew Veitch”
The majority of NYS counties do not have a last call for drinks as late as 4:00 AM. After we tried and failed in 2012 to have our Board of Supervisors approve a change from 4:00 AM to 3:00 AM, Warren County did make that change. They saw a significant decrease in calls for police action almost immediately. Next, Essex County went to 3:00 AM and they also found that late night problems in Lake Placid became more manageable.
There are many reasons to seriously consider an earlier last call as part of a comprehensive strategy to make our City more peaceful during late night hours so that our reputation as a fun, vibrant and safe place for our residents and visitors is maintained. Many people do not understand the fragile nature of the success of Saratoga Springs. Fewer families will think of Saratoga Springs as the place to send their kids to college or to have their destination weddings or to purchase expensive downtown condominiums if the nightlife consistently gets out of control. How many companies will think of Saratoga Springs as good downtown location for their offices if they have to share the streets with vomit, trash and vandals? Knife fights and gunfire are new elements to the atmosphere that can only worsen the situation.
How many more cops have to be injured? We have had a number of tragedies that have occurred including the very sad death of Ryan Rossley. We should have learned from what happened in the past. It is not too late to make these proposed changes before the next tragedy. I support Commissioner Dalton’s efforts to enact a change in our last call hours to a more reasonable time.
I used to think that maybe closing the bars earlier would be better for everyone. However, ten years later I believe that the public needs to change. Not bars, not bartenders. Patrons need to take responsibility for their own behavior. A large segment of the population are not going out to be social and have a nice time. They are going downtown to get blotto drunk and fight people because they lack the social skills that are required to function in a polite society. The culture we live has been on a downward trajectory for many years. Saratoga had remained the exception for a long time. Those days are over.
I agree with Nancy’s assessment of the demeanor of the bar patrons. This has been a problem for years. Yes, a change in attitude about alcohol consumption on the part of these individuals would help tremendously. There aren’t nearly enough PSA’s about both alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Still, 4:00 AM is too late and not at all a responsible guideline.