Thursday, 15 February 2018 13:57

Paid Parking: City to Explore Downtown Options

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A request for proposals was issued by the city this week seeking a management company to study, design, implement and manage a paid parking system in downtown Saratoga Springs.

Proposals received by potential bidders are slated to be opened March 14. The awarding of a project is anticipated to take place in April and the installation of parking management equipment by late summer. The goal is to secure a parking management company to implement and manage a paid parking system downtown that will “net the maximum financial benefit to the city balanced with downtown business vitality and efficient traffic management,” according to the RFP.

Proposals are to include a detailed outline of the system that includes time limits, hourly rates - with the ability to fluctuate rates based on seasonal demand, merchant/employee parking specs and a permit system for residents and employees of the downtown core.

The approximate boundaries of on-street paid parking covers the length of Broadway – from the entrance of Congress Park to the City Center - as well as parking areas west of Broadway to Railroad Place, and east of Broadway to Maple Avenue. The study area includes multi-level parking decks on Putnam Street, Woodlawn Avenue, and Long Alley, large surface lots at High Rock – located behind the City Center and just off Spring Street; the so-called Collamer lot; the public library lot and the paved drive that passes through Congress Park adjacent to the Canfield Casino.

There are currently about 1,300 spaces of public on-street parking and 1,480 public off-street parking spaces in the city, including lots and decks, according to the RFP.

The city has explored paid parking measures in the recent past, although those efforts have been largely unsuccessful. In 2008, three developers submitted proposals for a parking plan that included the city giving developers the land rights to the High Rock and Collamer lots in exchange for the construction of a new public safety facility, parking garage and a mix of residential and commercial buildings that would include a proposed cineplex complex. Discussions about those proposal eventually fell apart, however, after merchants complained against metering Broadway, where their stores are located. By 2009, the city council remained deadlocked over a resolution that would have chosen a developer for that paid parking proposal, even as then-Finance Commissioner Kevin Ivins crafted the city’s 2010 budget to include about $1.35 million in revenue anticipated to come from a paid-parking program.

The proposition of installing a paid-parking measure on city-owned lots and on some streets off of Broadway would represent the first metered system in the Spa City since the nickel-an-hour machines were removed in the 1970s.

“We want to move Saratoga forward as a Smart City with technologies such as Smart Parking to optimize parking, reduce traffic and create a more enjoyable experience for city residents and visitors,” according to the RFP.

The proposed timeline is as follows: March 14: RFP opening; April 17: City awards project; April 18 – 20: Kick-off meeting at City Hall; April 20 – 30: Flexible time to assess City's needs & gather feedback; May 1 – July 30: Complete parking study; Aug. 7: Submit final report and presentation at City Council meeting; Aug. 14 – Sept. 14: Install parking management equipment & train staff.

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