A proposal brought before the Saratoga Springs City Council by Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran at the Council’s September 6th meeting would require all temporary outdoor dining areas to be subject to review and approval by the city’s Design Review Board.
This amendment to the City Code would provide more vigorous oversight to protect the esthetics of Saratoga’s historic downtown.
“It is important that as we adjust to our new normal, we also continue to support the Saratoga Springs Brand and all it stands for. Toward that end, as promised when we first rolled out our new outdoor dining program, the second season would introduce the DRB oversight so that Outdoor Dining and our long standing Sidewalk Cafe programs are in alignment. This legislation will do exactly that.”Commissioner Moran
A public hearing on the amendment has been scheduled for the next City Council meeting on September 20.
2 thoughts on “Commissioner Moran Proposes Requirement for Design Review Board Approval of Temporary Outdoor Dining Venues”
Well, this is a refreshing change – A Commissioner working on the business of government instead of the City Attorney usurping and office furniture prerogative claims that we have been subject to for months!
Getting down to cases, involving the DRC is a splendid idea, as long as they remain aware that there is a seasonal calendar and not gum up the works to have things approved in the middle of winter. But having said that, it is clear that something needs to be done with these Jersey Barriers: enlisting the talent of our community of artists to make things look less like downtown Beirut would be terrific. What good is having conforming buildings and architecture when you block out vistas with slabs of dull concrete? Employ some artists and let’s get some themed murals going! How I wish Hud Armstrong was still with us…
And there is a revenue opportunity here, at least to the extent that the artist’s time and materials could be covered, and maybe more. I could certainly see corporate entities being wiling to “Sponsor a Block,” in return for some tasteful recognition of being a good corporate citizen… Not to put them on the spot, but wouldn’t Saratoga Eagle and DeCrescente be prime candidates to have some sort of seasonal downtown presence? How about Hannaford and Golub Corp?
And to be clear: We are not talking about making the place look like dasher boards at a hockey rink – but something creative that would befit this City’s heritage. Let’s turn necessity into a creative point of pride.
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There are certainly many talented muralists in this region. Today’s Gazette newspaper has a feature on one, Hannah Williams, who’s working on a massive mural in downtown Glens Falls.
However, murals do nothing to mitigate the Jersey barriers that are taking over narrow side streets that don’t have enough sidewalk depth to accommodate outdoor dining. The obvious solution is to simply extend the sidewalks another 5 or 6 feet out and make those streets one way, with no parking. Pricey, but allowing these barriers to persist is only adding to the mostly mediocre contemporary architecture that’s been going up for years.
Speaking of mediocre architecture, the Design Review Commission has proven itself just about worthless in stopping the new construction on Broadway and surrounding blocks from having all the appeal of a Midwestern backwater. If you’re going to put the DRC in charge of this issue, then dump the visually illiterate suckers who make up the current membership and replace them with urban visionaries who actually understand good design. Cities like Santa Fe, Santa Barbara, and New Orleans are able to maintain their traditional ambiance, while Saratoga Springs continues on a visually downward spiral.
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