By Mark Baker
For Saratoga TODAY
Looking back over the last 3 decades, it becomes clear that the success and prosperity of the “City Center experiment” is no accident. It is due to the visionaries and risk takers of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s – those native sons and daughters, elected and civic leaders who put forward a selfless plan to better the community and allow Saratoga to steadily proceed to the success we enjoy today.
The Saratoga Springs City Center was the result of a courageous and “gutsy” “Community Plan of Action”. A volunteer led plan for Saratoga to be the author of its own economic development. From benches and trash receptacles on Broadway, flower and tree planting programs, development of the Saratoga Special Assessment District to the emergence of the Downtown Business Assoc., the people of Saratoga rallied to make Saratoga Springs, a year round destination and vibrant hometown community in which to live and work. The City Center was a major part of the resulting success.
The City Center stands once again as a lead element to the future prosperity and vitality of downtown. Never have the challenges been more demanding, the stakes higher and the rewards more clearly visible with the need for our community to stay active, competitive and financially viable by adding additional downtown parking. The City Center’s Parking Structure solution is the best answer to the need. This is the right project, in the right location, at the right time, to answer an identified need not only for the City Center but the downtown business community. It also places no financial burden on the taxpayer!
The City Center has taken full advantage of its past success and recognized statewide reputation as a quality, first-class facility with superb personal service in a world-renowned hospitality community. The City Center with its recent expansion has only grown in its ability to bring more people to visit our community and also service the growing civic role of the facility. In 2015, the City Center was occupied more than 85 percent of the time - 310 days. Most of that business creation is during non-summer months of July and August. We now need the tools and infrastructure to continue to meet the desired demand—available parking. There is an identified need for additional parking in the north end of the Broadway business district to serve our community needs and convention guests.
It is obvious that no plan (parking) or means for continued success is possible without the involvement and engagement of selfless volunteers who help drive a concept into reality. The people of Saratoga Springs have always taken great ownership and pride in the agencies and institutions that have helped this community to grow and prosper—the City Center is proud to be part of that inventory. It is due to the leadership, guidance and dedication of the City Center Authority and the City Council that we are strong and viable. With the continued support of the business community great things are going to happen in 2016 and the parking facility will become a reality.
Mark Baker is President of the Saratoga Springs City Center