Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Jury's Back on the new Comprehensive Plan

Since I haven't posted anything since January, I thought I might begin with what appears to be a post mortem on the new Comprehensive Plan. A few weeks ago, mayor-elect, Scott Johnson, met with another member of the committee and myself to briefly discuss the possibility of having a lengthier discussion with him so that we could get his feedback on the plan. We were completely open with the Mayor, letting him know what kind of timetable that would be necessary for the plan to go through all the steps -- public hearings, SEQURA review, etc. The long and short of it is the Mayor basically ignored our request to have the next meeting by a certain date and will get back to us at his leisure. Sounds like stonewalling to me.
What was I thinking? Why would a mayor who would have never defeated the incumbent if it hadn't been for the crafty machinations of another individual be interested in working with a Green and a Democrat? My hope had been that he'd be willing to take the high road and consider the recommendations of a tri-partisan committee that came up with a badly needed plan that provides a vision for the city of Saratoga Springs that deals with sustainability -- and a number of other important things. Without a common sense plan to deal with future challeneges, the city runs the risk of incurring extra costs at the expense of the taxpayer, and future generations. But not to worry, the city hall will have a set of heated stairs flanked by two lions and a spanking new rec center complete with plenty of parking.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The 2001 Comp Plan and T-Zones

Whoever wrote this last post, doesn't know what he/she is talking about. Way to go!
While Jeff Pfeil may have not been directly responsible for the creation of the T-zones which led to the condo-complexes near Franklin Square, the 2001 Comp Plan recommended the creation of special development districts in the urban core. For anyone who wants to look at small diagrams of them, they're in the old Comp Plan. These areas -- namely Franklin Square, the gut, from Henry and Lake and continuing down High Rock, and the other side of Lake where the Parting Glass and adjacent property(which used to be a gas station)were re-zoned to be T-zones.
Now T-zones translate into much higher density, which "real"city planners originally intended to go hand-in-hand with mass transit. This is a green way of going about it, and not over-relying on parking garages to solve all our city's traffic woes.
As for T-zones and the New Urbanism -- the timing here is interesting as we witness the Ayco's and other mortgage lending outfits descend upon our city. All systems go for developing the hell out of Saratochka. And when I use the word "development" the meaning is closer to destruction. Because most of what's going up in Saratochka is not sustainable.

Monday, July 30, 2007

2007 Saratoga Springs Comprehensive Plan

Since the weather has turned balmy, I'd like to avoid the heated issues (for now) and focus on the 2007 Comprehensive Plan for Saratoga Springs.
I served on the Mayor Keehn's committee to rewrite the old Comprehensive Plan 0f 2001. That plan's main author was Jeff Pfeil -- any wonder then that our city was hit by a new wave of aggressive development? Not only did the condo craze take us by surprise, but the transect zone became the fashion jacking up those downtown buildings to 80 feet and putting them right on top of each other (i.e. the new structure next to the Weise building)and the street. Saratoga once offered its visitors a respite from the big city. Now what?
The new comprehensive plan is an attempt to re-vision the direction of our historic city and get it back on track in terms of growth and sustainability. The latter is a term that our committee wrestled with as have all cities that care about balancing bottom line issues with human and environmental concerns. At the heart of sustainability is the question -- does what our city do today in terms of housing,transportation, taxation, water usage, etc. negatively impact the ability of future generations to survive?
We had a number of good discussions over the eight months during which we met. There are many interesting additions and changes in the new comprehensive plan and I urge as many of the residents of Saratoga to read it.

Just one reminder, though. The ideas included in the plan are recommendations to the city which must be voted on by the members of the city council. The plan has many good ideas in it, but they will not be enacted unless enough people take an interest and make their opinions known to the city council. Copies of the plan can be found at the Saratoga public library and the city planning office. A lot of public comment went into the writing of this document and I urge everyone who cares about the future of our city in the country to read it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Welcome to Saratoga Truth Squad

Welcome to this blog, which has the goal of uncovering the truth in the political and civic affairs of Saratoga Springs, New York.