Citizen Group Forms to Address Union Avenue Proposal

I received the following from a group that has recently formed in response to a proposal being developed by the Mayor’s office for, according to the city’s website, a”streetscape improvement project to enhance Saratoga Springs’ signature street-Union Avenue between East Avenue and Circular Street.” There will be a public hearing and a presentation on this proposal at the Tuesday, January 17, City Council meeting.

JK


The Historic Union Avenue Neighborhood Association (HUANA) is a large group of concerned citizens who live on or near Union Avenue. It was specifically formed so that property owners, residents, and businesses could have a voice in any proposed changes to Union Avenue ( the beloved street we call home ).

huanavision@gmail.com


The Saratoga Springs City Council is preparing to vote on a concept that has broad implications for Union Avenue and one that could set an unwanted precedent for other areas of the City.

The “Enhancing Union Avenue” plan was revealed to the public by the city’s Complete Streets Advisory Board at a meeting held at Empire State College last October. It became quickly apparent that the sole focus of the plan was the addition of bike lanes along Union Avenue.

We, the members of the Historic Union Avenue Neighborhood Association, are a group of concerned citizens who live on or near Union Avenue. We assert that no changes to Union Avenue should take place without a comprehensive plan that simultaneously addresses the safety and the historic integrity of this grand boulevard. We further believe that the plan should be developed within a process that allows for detailed discussion with ALL stakeholders, including the New York Racing Association, the National Museum of Racing, the Saratoga Historic Preservation Foundation, Empire State College, the business community, and area residents.

Union Avenue, on the National Register of Historic Places, is a vital gateway to our city and the first impression many have of our beloved town. As noted sportswriter Red Smith once famously said, “From New York City, you drive north for about 175 miles, turn left on Union Avenue, and go back 100 years”.  We cannot afford to play high-stakes poker with one of our community’s greatest assets. We respectfully request Mayor Kim and the members of the City Council suspend this project until a comprehensive plan that addresses all concerns and answers all questions is in place.

12 thoughts on “Citizen Group Forms to Address Union Avenue Proposal”

  1. I would suggest two minimal changes;
    1. an enhanced pedestrian crossing system at the Clark St. intersection including a median island
    2. sharrows to accommodate bicycles.
    Nothing more. Please don’t destroy the beauty and functionality of Union Avenue.

    Chris Mathiesen

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Chris: Let’s have coffee and discuss! Sharrows (also called Bicycle Boulevards) are inappropriate and unsafe for roadways with traffic speed and volumes like Union Avenue. We need to be designing safer streets for cars, pedestrians and bike riders of all ages and abilities. A few resources:

      https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwi4nKq54sz8AhVJKFkFHe4lBy4QFnoECAwQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fnacto.org%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2017%2F12%2FNACTO_Designing-for-All-Ages-Abilities.pdf&usg=AOvVaw0DFt8afVVFPaN5omBzu34R

      https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/11/9/what-are-sharrows-worth

      I’m happy to meet and discuss. ed@bikeatoga.org

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  2. Good luck Union Avenue group (HUANA).

    This City Council has no regard for the Comprehensive Plan nor the Zoning Board and probably any other governing/planning board of Saratoga Springs.

    They are hell bent on “making changes” regardless of your wishes. They will listen, but do as they please.

    Did the bike lanes on Lake Avenue work? I drive that street weekly and have NEVER seen a biker use those lanes.
    Fight it, and good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am glad to see this group has formed to help neighbors become more involved in the process of “enhancing” Union Avenue. What happens to historic Union Avenue, a major gateway to the city, should be of importance to all Saratogian’s throughout the city so I hope more and more people will become aware of the plans the Mayor’s office is developing and feel empowered to comment on them. Bizarrely, however, the Mayor has scheduled a public hearing on these plans to take place at the Tuesday, January17, City Council meeting before the plans are even presented, something that will not take place until later in the meeting.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. In an earlier comment I stated that plans for “Enhancing Union Avenue” would be presented at the January 17 CityCouncil meeting. This is apparently not the case. While the city’s agenda does not indicate this, it seems the presentation will not be about a proposal but instead a presentation by someone from “Traffic Calmer”

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  5. I recently attended a meeting of the Complete Streets Advisory Board. I was under the impression that the board was going to unveil their plan for Union Ave. I also thought that Suzanne Jagoda, a member of the board, was going to present an alternative plan. Instead, like the Council meeting, no plan was presented but rather the same presentation by Traffic Calmer was given. Ms. Jagoda was not allowed to make her presentation at the board meeting but rather had to make her comments at the City Council’s public hearing. Both individuals are member of the Complete Streets Advisory Board yet, Michael King (Traffic Calmer) was given unlimited time at the Council meeting while Ms. Jogoda was given just two minutes at the public hearing.

    I attempted to have a conversation with Mr. King after his presentation and the public hearing. I have lived in Saratoga Springs for 45 yrs. and Mr. King moved here from NYC 4 months. ago. I had questions about the methodology Mr. King used to count cars in order to convince us that the traffic at the race track at peak times (5pm to 7pm) wasn’t really that bad. I wonder if he will feel the same way after he experiences his first track season. Mr. King also reassured me that even though we undergo a street diet (his words not mine) traffic will not bleed into the side streets off Union Ave. The most shocking thing for me was that Traffic Calmer said “Congestion is good. It slows the traffic down.” I don’t know about you, but for me congestion is not calming. In fact it makes people angry.

    Almost every question I asked Mr. King his response was “you won’t believe anything I tell you.” I finally asked him to stop saying that. His rudeness and condescension were totally unnecessary. Which goes to the heart of the matter. People are being silenced and excluded. This is not just about should we have bike lanes on Union Ave.
    I think most people support them. This is so much larger than that. This is about making changes to a historical part of our city. All voices should be heard and involvement by all should be encouraged.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. This is a Historic Gateway to our City. I wouldn’t want to see it disturbed. I have lived my life around the Race track, even directed traffic there once. It is a mess there, why would one want to add a pike path there? I am not against bike paths, the one on Excelsior Avenue is great. Maybe a little questionable from East Ave to Marion. Lake Ave from East to St. Clements have lost the right to put their leave in the Road, which I may add the pay for though their taxes. That is right. The Race track is one of Saratoga Draws, why would anyone want to mess with that. The cross walk at Clark and Regent is the ugliest thing I have ever seen. The Public Safety Commissioner never talked to Skip about it, maybe the design could have been more attractive.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I met with Ed Lindner this morning. The plans that Mr. King presented do not eliminate on-street parking and allow space for bike lanes. There would be two travel lanes and turn lanes. There may be more opportunities to plant trees. Pedestrian crossing at Clark Street is included. Narrower traffic lanes and the enhanced pedestrian crossing areas may help to mitigate the problem of excessive motorists’ speed.

    A traffic consultant should be brought in to provide an opinion about the impact on heavy traffic flow during racing season and to consider measures that might lessen this impact.

    The Union Avenue bike lane plan would provide an important component for overall connectivity proposed previously as part of the network of improved bike and pedestrian access throughout the City and the County.

    I am not necessarily opposed to the plan presented for Union Avenue though I wasn’t thrilled with the impacts on neighbors and those using the East Side Rec that resulted from portions of the Lake Avenue bike lanes.

    Chris Mathiesen

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  8. I’ve ridden all over Saratoga Springs on a bike since I was 12 years old. No bike lanes, no accidents. Are we trying to create the perfect environment for all of God’s creatures?

    It isn’t working.

    If people aren’t smart enough to ride a bike and negotiate traffic on their own, using common sense, then I have no answer. I don’t think Mr. King has the answer either. Let’s move on.

    Liked by 3 people

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