SARATOGA SPRINGS — Revised plans for a parking garage on Maple Avenue could be enough to settle a lawsuit by Diane and David Pedinotti, owners of the Mouzon House.
The Pedinotti’s filed a lawsuit against the city in May 2016, after the City Council approved a long-term lease of property to the Saratoga Springs City Center Authority.
The City Center planned to build a five-story parking garage on the property, which is next door to the Mouzon House restaurant on York Street.
In the lawsuit, the Pedinotti’s said the new parking garage would “damage the Mouzon House restaurant business by effectively sealing off the … restaurant from the rest of the vibrant and economically thriving downtown urban core of Saratoga Springs.”
Pedinotti said she felt the original parking garage plan wasn’t well thought out.
“We didn’t want a stand-alone structure, which would’ve been taller than the High Rock condos,” she said. “We’re thrilled the city is considering another plan.”
Mayor Meg Kelly said the Flat Rock parking garage project is named after the Flat Rock Spring Park, which occupied the 2.62-acre property in the 1800s. Under the revised plans, the project, which is still in the planning stages, would include a rooftop feature of some sort, as well as a community space.
“We’re looking at several options for the rooftop of the parking garage, including solar panels, a rooftop venue or restaurant,” she said. “The City Center also wants more space, so that might be something we could do.
“At this point, we’re just throwing ideas out there.”
Aside from the the City Center, Kelly said the Saratoga Springs Public Library may be interested in occupying the community space.
Kelly’s initial plan also includes incorporating green space by reviving the Flat Rock Park and restoring the spring there.
“We have a lot of people in the downtown core, so it would be nice to have a pocket park,” she said. “I like the visualization of green along Lake Avenue down to High Rock Park, which most people don’t even know is there because there’s so much concrete.”
Kelly is also looking into extending the Saratoga Farmers Market, which is located at High Rock Park, to run from May to October.
In order to come up with a final plan for the site, Kelly said she will put together the Flat Rock project working group. She said it would likely be made up of neighbors — including the Pedinotti’s — and members of the City Center Authority, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Business Association, Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau and others.
“The stakeholders group will give people a chance to give their input on this piece of property,” she said.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, $19,500 was allocated to the LA Group for a conceptual drawing of the plan.
Kelly said the project would be done in phases, starting with the parking garage, followed by the park and possible extension of the farmers market.
Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan said she’s supportive of the mayor’s vision.
“We’ve been collaborating on it, and it’s time to bring the rest of the council and the public in on what the vision will be for this back lot,” she said. “We’d like to do it right this time. We want the Mouzon House owners to feel better about it and get the public involved to work together.”
Madigan said the city is hoping to receive state funding for the project.
“The state wants to see a community and green space and solar components or a rooftop garden, to help with renewable energy,” she said.
Saratoga Springs City Center Executive Director Ryan McMahon said the more community involvement in the plan, the better it will be.
“Anything that services a broader base is a good thing,” he said. “The City Center Authority is committed to helping solve the parking shortage downtown, and we plan on working creatively to help do that.”
Kelly said there’s no timetable at the moment for when the project would start, due to the pending litigation.
“It’s important for me as mayor to be able to communicate with all parties,” she said. “We’re hoping to come to a resolution soon, and hopefully the litigation will end soon, so we can move forward.”
Moving forward, Pedinotti said she and her husband plan to settle with the city, once “something can be put in writing” regarding the city’s new plan.
“If we can come to an agreement that the garage won’t be the same footprint, and that they’ll take our needs and the city’s needs into consideration, we’d be delighted to settle,” she said. “There are a lot of really good things being considered in this new plan, and we’re hopeful it’s something everyone in the city will agree with.”