A lot can happen in 50 years, but rebuilding a stagnant downtown is a rare feat.
The year was 1972…Richard Nixon was our President, a gallon of gas cost .55 cents, the Godfather topped the box offices, and vacant storefronts littered downtown Saratoga Springs. Yes, the Broadway you know today was not the Broadway of the 1970’s. Saratoga Springs was economically distressed, and it showed.
…Enter Joe Dalton (Chamber President) and Bob Bristol (Saratoga Associates.)
What began as a no-frills meeting in the boardroom of the Adirondack Trust Company, calling for a ‘Plan of Action,’ became an ongoing project that would reinvent a community over the span of five decades.
Guided by Bill Dake in the beginning and then Charles Wait, this effort included private and public partnerships, countless volunteers, thousands of hours and numerous meetings. Unlike previous plans, this plan called for ACTION. While space constraints limit me to mentioning a few key players, there have been dozens of dedicated team players who made this possible.
Some of the more notable successes born out of this partnership have been Skidmore College, North Broadway, Congress Park, the YMCA, and the City Center. But we need not look to the past for examples of our city’s ongoing commitment to success in action.
Last week the City Council unanimously approved the design and lease plans for the City Center parking structure. But like most successes, this didn’t take place overnight.
In the Fall of 2013, the first application for the City Center parking structure was submitted. Unfortunately, that plan quickly became bogged down in bureaucratic red tape, and lawsuits stalled the project.
…Enter Mayor Meg Kelly.
Not one to get entangled in partisan politics, Mayor Kelly pulled all parties together and formed the Flat Rock Parking Group. In another example of symbiotic relationships, The City Center Authority took input from the Flat Rock Parking Group and made a number of changes including: Incorporation of the greenbelt trail into the overall design plan; Rotating the structure 180 degrees; Placing stairwells on the East and West sides of the structure; And drastically reducing the scale of the connector to the City Center (or the ‘Sky Walk’ as I like to call it.)
Reminiscent of our past revitalization efforts, the Flat Rock Parking plan is a testament to the power of partnerships. This project wouldn’t have been possible without the collaboration of government, volunteers and the local business community. Some of the many groups that helped bring this project to fruition are: City Council, the DBA, the City Center Authority, the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Special Assessment District and the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau. And, like our previous successful projects, financing is being handled by one of our local banks.
To all those involved in this massive undertaking, I offer a heartfelt “Thank You.’
While other regions in the state struggle, we remain a vibrant hidden gem in the heart of the Adirondacks…with an additional 400 parking places coming soon!