Schenectady County

Talks continue in Union Street parking dispute in Schenectady

Proposed compromises are flying back and forth between city officials and the upper Union Street bri

Proposed compromises are flying back and forth between city officials and the upper Union Street bridal shop owner who is fighting to keep her parking lot.

The sticking point: owner Marylu Aragosa wants to keep control of her parking spaces, even if they are placed in a city-owned “bump-out” parking lot. Her engineer has designed a way to add five spaces to the city’s plan, with four of those spaces being deeded over to Aragosa.

“If we must do a bump-out, we’re willing to be flexible about it,” Aragosa said.

But three city officials, who all asked not to be named, said the engineering proposal isn’t workable because it doesn’t leave enough space for the cars to back out.

They countered with a compromise of their own: the city could designate a 15-minute loading zone, which Aragosa’s customers could use when picking up delicate silk gowns.

But Aragosa rejected that idea.

“It’s nice to see they’re looking to accommodate my business needs, but I need the parking as well,” she said, explaining that her customers want to park directly in front of her store.

“It’d be more convenient for them to pull right up,” she said.

The stance frustrated city officials, who have been trying to negotiate with Aragosa for two years. Until now, Aragosa had said she needed spaces in front of her store because customers would not dare carry valuable gowns down a sidewalk in bad weather, risking dirt or damage.

The city thought a loading zone would be the perfect solution.

Now, the officials said, they may be forced to use eminent domain, although City Council members said last week that they wanted a compromise instead.

Under eminent domain, the city could force Aragosa to sell her land for its market value.

It would be combined with property from two neighboring business owners, both of whom have agreed to sell. The city and Metroplex Development Authority would build a city-owned parking lot on that land.

The lot would be similar to the ones on downtown State Street near Proctors, with diagonal spaces. Cars can back out of those spaces without pulling into traffic because they back out into a special lane — a “bump-out” — separated from the road by a curb.

Aragosa’s idea calls for a similar bump-out, but with more sharply angled spaces. Drivers would have to maneuver into spaces set at a 75-degree angle.

Angling them that sharply allows the city to squeeze in more spaces, according to Aragosa’s engineer. He proposed 16 spaces — five more than in the city’s plan.

In response to city officials who said the plan doesn’t leave enough space for cars to back out, engineer Reuben Hull said they’re just not willing to make a small adjustment.

“An additional six inches would be needed,” he said. “So they’re right, a small adjustment would need to be made, one way or the other. But it’s certainly something that, in my professional judgment, is workable.”

Aragosa also said she’s willing to give up one space in her engineer’s plan, if the city will let her keep the other three.

“I would consider three,” she said. “This [plan] has more spaces. This benefits everyone.”

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