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Saratoga tackles parking issues

The Saratoga Springs City Council tabled a pilot program to introduce paid parking in municipal lots until more details on the administration of the program could be hashed out.

Commissioner of Public Works Thomas McTygue and Commissioner of Finance Matthew McCabe had a plan to charge $5 to $8 a day for parking at the Putnam Street municipal deck, but outcry from area business owners and an idea from Commissioner of Public Safety Ronald Kim sidelined their pilot in favor of exploring a new program.

The Putnam Street lot is entered by way of Phila Street, where a number of businesses are located.

Several Phila Street merchants spoke out against the fee plan at the council's Tuesday, June 19, meeting, saying customers will go to where the parking is free and patronize the businesses that surround those lots.

Access to reasonable parking is the fertile soil that allows my business to grow, said Richard Frank of Four Season Natural Foods. "I am opposed to any make-a-buck schemes. Burden my employees and customers with hodge-podge fees, and my business will suffer."

Joshua Hiebel, owner of Saratoga Wine Exchange on Phila Street, said he was in favor of creating revenue from parking as long as it wasn't punitive to certain business owners. "Paid parking I have no problem with," he said. "I do object, however, to the way that it is being proposed."

"This really is a pilot," McTygue said. "We have to move ahead, and this is the beginning of moving ahead. This is the right way to go, the smart way to go, and the beginning of getting something done."

Some people at the meeting said they were not opposed to paid parking.

Resident Kyle York said the city has many parking laws on the books but has ignored the fundamental law of supply and demand.

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