As a prominent entryway into the city, the issue of South Broadway’s success has been a point of community concern for years. And within the last five years, the city has begun making cosmetic and utilitarian changes to South Broadway, including new sewage and water piping, lighting, sidewalks and road repair in hopes of stimulating the area’s growth.
“I think the investments the city made to the streetscape years ago have positioned the corridor for additional development,” said Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Todd Shimkus. “The corridor certainly has the traffic counts to justify additional development as well.”
But despite the city’s efforts, South Broadway still struggles, and with the January closing of the iconic Saratoga Diner, it was clear that something needed to be done.
That’s when Franck, along with Supervisor Matthew Veitch, formed the Gateway Action Planning Committee in hopes of uncovering some answers. The committee’s purpose is to objectively look at the area around South Broadway and provide the city with a report that can be used to help successfully develop it.
“The committee has thrown around a number of ideas so far,” said Franck. “Some of the things that are under discussion are extending the complete streets initiatives from Broadway to South Broadway and reducing speeds currently 55 miles per hour on Route 9 South.”
The committee has also discussed the rerouting or burial of utility lines; developing better marketing for the area; widening Route 9 South’s turning lanes; and a review and update of the city’s comprehensive plan. While the committee’s focus is primarily to draw more commerce to South Broadway, businesses already located on the stretch have begun taking matters into their own hands.
“There have been some recent developments in this corridor, such as the state-of-the-art McDonald’s, which replaced a worn-looking facility,” said Franck. “PJ’s Barbecue is also doing a marvelous renovation to their location.”
“You have some great property owners in that area already who have created unique and cool places to eat, to stay and to shop,” said Shimkus. “These investments should be applauded for moving us in the right direction.”
While it remains unclear what administrable solutions the committee’s final report will provide, city leaders remain optimistic about South Broadway’s success.
“The fact that both the mayor’s office and the taskforce formed by Supervisor Veitch and Commissioner Franck are focusing time and expertise on this corridor further demonstrates the commitment of the city to work with prospective developers and existing property owners,” said Shimkus.
“In my opinion, this project is important because [South Broadway] is the main corridor entrance into our beautiful city,” said Franck.
The committee plans to meet again May 10 and hopes to have their final report ready for the May 15 City Council meeting.