Oh no he did’ant.
Eminent domain is a term not freely bandied about in the more conservative enclaves of upstate New York. Many eminent domain proceedings involve acquiring strips of property from private owners to make way for massive transportation or infrastructure projects.
Not that there aren’t instances of public entities taking a swipe at seizing a property for public projects –the village of Corinth mused with eminent domain proceedings to grab the former International Paper Mill. Even more recently, Saratoga County supervisors have candidly discussed eminent domain as their thirst for a water pipeline down the Northway grows.
In general, however, projects that employ this tact are multi-million dollar ones that can readily afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to seize a property in court. And in the case of the Journal Register Company property, it would be tough seize. There is no public project on the table for the 1.5 acre of prime downtown property and it’s difficult to envision one that could be clearly and legally seen in the public good.
But McTygue has a bit of a card up his sleeve, as the Daily Gazette wryly noted. The commissioner of more than three decades seems to recall an agreement between The Saratogian and the city, in which the 75-space lot would be made available to downtown patrons after business hours. McTygue claims this agreement was made during the 1960s, when urban renewal swept clean a swath of shabby row houses.
Anyone who’s made the ill-fated decision to park there can attest this is not the case. In fact, leaving one’s vehicle in the lot for any period of time can lead to an arbitrary towing. Indeed this is brazen hypocrisy from a paper that freely editorializes about the utter lack of parking in the city. But hey, who cares as long as it sells papers, right?
Rumors once circulated about a symbiotic connection between The Saratogian’s publisher and a local towing company, where free rein was given on the lot. Another more plausible explanation came from a former reporter at the paper. Over a few beers one night on Caroline Street, he chortled heartily about calling a tow truck every time he saw an obscure vehicle without the requisite parking permit. In his twisted and sardonic logic, he wanted his choice of spots, even if all the spaces were empty.
McTygue’s vitriol toward the paper is more than warranted, given the attractive space in the very heart of downtown nightlife. But with a poisoned city council and no clear plan, he might as well be shouting his plan on the drunken Saturday night ears of the Caroline Street revelers. Not to mention, JRC’s pockets are deep enough they could likely thwart any eminent domain attempt –or at least drag it into the courts for the next decade.But regardless of the feasibility of his idea, kudos to the commissioner for having the balls to openly challenge the paper letting a spot of key real estate go to waste while the rest of the city booms. Hopefully, he continues this path to at least open a dialogue for some sort of future agreement.