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.