Thursday, 04 April 2024 13:32

Saratoga Springs Approves Summer Paid Parking Plan for City Garages, Lots

T-shirts for the taking outside City Hall on April 2 when a public hearing and vote were held regarding the city’s proposed summer paid parking program. Photo by Thomas Dimopoulos. T-shirts for the taking outside City Hall on April 2 when a public hearing and vote were held regarding the city’s proposed summer paid parking program. Photo by Thomas Dimopoulos.

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Image: Details of the seasonal paid parking program.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs City Council on April 2 unanimously approved the establishment of a seasonal paid parking program. 

The program will run from Memorial Day through Labor Day and affect six city-owned, off-street parking facilities. 

The paid parking program will be in effect in three parking garages - Walton/Woodlawn Parking Garage, Woodlawn Ave. Parking Garage, and Putnam St. Parking Garage, and three city surface parking lots – specifically located at Woodlawn Ave., Spring Street, and High Rock. Times of operation and parking permitted levels will vary. 

To park in any of the six facilities, fees up to $2 per hour will be charged. City residents with proof of residency may apply for a permit to park free of charge at the six facilities. An online portal where residents and downtown business owners may apply for permits is anticipated to roll out by the end of April. 

As it currently stands, downtown workers with proof of regular employment as verified by their employer, may apply for the free parking permit if their business is located in the city’s “Urban Core” District, as defined by the city’s Zoning map.       

“Registration will occur online or by working with staff at City Hall,” said DPW Business Manager Mike Veitch. “The permits themselves are linked to license plates as is when you pay for a space. It’s linked to your license plate – that’s how the system will track.” Pay stations are expected to be installed some time in May. There will be no traditional parking meters.    

The program was developed by the city’s Department of Public Works under Commissioner Jason Golub and has been scaled back from an initial plan floated last December that proposed converting more than 1,300 on-street and nearly 800 garage parking spaces into either “permit” or “paid” spots for a five-month period beginning May 1. On-street parking will remain free of charge for all, as it currently is. 

The city estimates the plan will generate a gross revenue of just under $1.6 million this summer. “It is additional revenue coming into the city,” said Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi, reasoning that numerous nearby tourist-friendly cities are already running paid parking schemes. 

Subtract from the estimated gross revenue about $450,000 in expenses to run the program in 2024 – this includes a one-time pay station installation cost of about $125,000 – resulting in an estimated net gain of just over $1.1 million.

The city says it will invest $100,000 of revenue gained in the DBA (“a dedicated marketing professional for the Downtown Business Association”), $50,000 into Parking Structure Capital Reserve, $75,000 into a Downtown Improvement Reserve, and $40,000 into a Recreation Parking program. There was no documentation presented this week regarding where the anticipated more than $850,000 in additional annual revenue may be spent.   

“We have a three-month period here to see how it works and I think it’s worth doing,” said Mayor John Safford, adding that some of the revenue generated will be earmarked to help resolve homeless issues, although how much of or where those funds would be applied was not specified. 

The City Council’s 5-0 vote in favor of the plan followed a 65-minute Public Hearing on the matter attended by more than 60 people at City Hall. Approximately 20 people addressed the council during the hearing, expressing a variety of opinions: a handful in favor of paid parking, a slightly higher number of people opposed, and some who voiced an expression akin to “let’s try it for three months and see how it goes.”

A reduced rate parking permit for Saratoga Springs School District taxpayers which would benefit those in nearby municipalities is also expected to be optioned-in at some point. The city school district stretches south to areas of Milton and Ballston Spa, west to Middle Grove and Lake Desolation, north to Porter Corners and Wilton, and east along Route 29 on the road to Schuylerville. 

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