“Look back at how downtown business was prior to 1966, and you will see that the free parking was the beginning of Saratoga as we know it today,” said former city Mayor James Murphy Jr. in a letter to the Saratogian.
But for a certain school teacher-turned-political operative, parking meters just might be the answer to solving summer traffic congestion leading into the city, thus making it a greener place.
“People are realizing that we have to look at paid parking,” deputy Public Nuisance commissioner Eileen Finneran told the Saratogian Monday. “Every community around us has it, except Clifton Park, but they don’t really have a downtown.”
Alas, Finneran can’t take full credit for her flawed thinking in this case. She had a group of graduate students from UAlbany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy pitch the idea of establishing 50-cent parking meters along the city’s main drag. These students were trying to cut down on the “two-hour shuffle” residents apparently witnesses with increasing frequency.
The project was apparently part of their thesis and a requirement to graduate from the program. For their sake, let’s hope it wasn’t a major requirement. Details aside, they’re thinking is about as flawed as the mindset used by the political hacks now usurping the city’s Public Safety office.
It’s an idea that has worked awfully well in cities with burgeoning downtown areas, like Schenectady, which is riddled with parking meters. Not only is the Electric City’s business district a powerhouse, it never experiences massive traffic congestion along the main arteriole of Erie Boulevard during rush-hour times. And if you buy this, please stop by iSaratoga’s bridge sale: This week, bidding for the Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge over the Mohawk starts at $15; act soon or lose out.
Seriously, Finneran must have a few screws loose to think the idea of metered parking would take hold anywhere in Saratoga. The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce has been quick to nip any such idea in the bud, claiming the meters would add a new layer of hardship on Broadway businesses. Likewise, these business owners have cried bloody murder every time the suggestion has been whispered. Even Finneran’s political ally Lew Benton has railed out against the prospect of Broadway meters.
“The whole idea of paid parking is so foreign to our thinking in this city,” he told the Times Union in 2006, when metered parking was suggested as part of the city’s draft transportation plan.
In truth, stamping four-hour meters along Broadway would do absolutely nothing to limit the ingress and egress of traffic into the city. The same vehicles would come into the city; the same vehicles would struggle to find a parking space along Broadway, and the same people now leaving those vehicles there would reluctantly fork a few quarters into a meter.
Metered parking would add a tacky element to the city that already whored itself to building a pair of useless parking garages. The meters give the impression a municipality is willing to wrest just about any ashtray nickel and dime (or quarter in this case)they can from whoever wanders into its limits. Perhaps that is the fiscal situation now facing the city with its waning revenues. On a side note, if the city does decide to meter parking on Broadway, allow iSaratoga to be the first to offer Finneran as the city’s new meter maid. That way, at least those who are against her ridiculous metering idea will have a chance to nail her with a pair of quarters instead of the meter.