Thursday, 09 May 2024 13:00

Public Library Will Go To Paid Parking; Library Patrons Will Have Preferred Free Parking Status

Saratoga Springs parking lot on May 6, 2024. Photo by Thomas Dimopoulos. Saratoga Springs parking lot on May 6, 2024. Photo by Thomas Dimopoulos.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The city public library parking lot will be going to a paid parking scheme this summer, although provisions are being made to allow library card-holders to continue to park free of charge during the library’s normal hours of operation. 

The Saratoga Springs City Council unanimously approved a pair of measures during its May 7 meeting, allowing the proposal to come to fruition. 

Since its opening in 1992, the 75-or-so parking spaces in the Saratoga Springs Public Library (SSPL) lot, which sits between Putnam and Henry Streets one block east of Broadway, had offered free parking to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. 

“Since then, the city of Saratoga Springs has constructed four parking garages and service lots and more recently a seasonal public parking permit program to accommodate a growing population and tourism industry. These recent developments would impact the use of the library parking lot,” city DPW Commissioner Jason Golub said during this week’s council vote. “SSPL approached the city to develop solutions for protecting patron use of the space.” 

The library – which serves 700 people per day, is chartered not simply by the geographical boundaries of the city of Saratoga Springs, but in the larger school district which serves about 52,000 people. 

“Regulations are intended to provide library patrons with priority use of the lot during library hours and to allow the city to charge for parking in the evenings,” Commissioner Golub said, adding that the library lot is anticipated to return approximately $52,000 in revenues during the seasonal parking plan. 

A new seasonal paid parking program affecting six city-owned, off-street parking facilities was approved April 2, prior to the addressing of the library lot. Overall, it was anticipated the seasonal program would run Memorial Day through Labor Day, although that may be headed toward a post-June 9 start, following the conclusion of the Belmont Stakes Festival. 

When the plan goes into effect, Special Permits will be required for library patrons to park in the library lot during designated hours. Permits, which will run via a license plate system, will be available to patrons who register and have a library card. Although the software to approve permits is not yet in place, library staff will be the ones responsible for registering patrons on a portal site provided by the city. 

“People will need come into the library to register for the permit, because it will require that they are a resident of the school district and a library card holder,” said Library Director A. Issac Pulver. 

“The library is essential to our community and serves a lot of our people,” said Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi.  “The library is the lifeblood of our community in so many different ways…the ability to gather together and learn from each other… I’m happy we came to a solution that works for the library and the city.” 

Draft Regulations: 

(a) The Library Permit will enable Library Patrons to exclusively use spaces in the Library Lot from the hours of 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily, for a three-hour time limit. 

(b) Library Permit holders may continue to use the lot for free for three hours until 9 p.m. daily, but the spots will be on first-come, first-served basis and the lot may include paid parking users after 6 pm. 

(c) Library Permit Patrons seeking to use the lot 9 p.m. - 9 a.m. will be charged a fee by the city when the city parking program is in effect. 

(d) The city may charge a fee for Non-Library Permit Patrons after 6 p.m. daily and on days or holidays when the Library is closed.

The anticipated charge for paid parking will be at the rate of $2 per hour. On holidays and other days when the library is closed, the city may charge for parking at any time. Tickets will be issued for violations. 

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