EDITORIAL: For its future, Schenectady needs a parking study

The old bank building site Credit: Peter Barber/Staff Photographer
The old bank building site Credit: Peter Barber/Staff Photographer

If you read our series about downtown Schenectady’s parking issue, and then tried to come up with the optimum solution for the problems, you might have found yourself searching the medicine cabinet for something for your headache.

How does the city accommodate all the parking needs for new apartments and townhouses? People want to park near where they live. And developers can’t afford, or are unwilling, to make available the spaces they need for all the people they want to live in their buildings.

How do you create and maintain enough parking to encourage customers to visit downtown businesses? Where do all the workers at those businesses park?

By pure numbers, there might be plenty of parking spaces in the city. But are they convenient to where the people want them to be near shopping, work and apartments? Are they available at the right times? Lots that are full of shoppers and workers during the day aren’t needed at night. And not all apartment dwellers need parking during the day, but need it at night.

Does the city need to change its parking requirements for new buildings? Does it need a new parking garage? Does it need to allow for taller buildings to accommodate on-site parking decks?

Can you feel your head throbbing yet?

But residents don’t need to make sense of it all. City officials not versed in the best practices for urban parking in the modern world don’t need to have all the answers. Planners don’t need to have an inventory of every open and filled parking space in the city at every hour of the day.

That’s why parking consultants get paid so well. And that’s what the city needs to hire one to make sense of this mess and to recommend solutions.

We know no government has two nickels to rub together right now. But a parking study will be more than an expense; it will be an investment in the future.

Having too many people wanting to park in your city is a good problem to have – unless it’s not managed well.

What will happen if the city doesn’t get a handle on this problem is that the enthusiasm and interest in the city will dry up quickly. All those enthusiastic developers will either get frustrated with the regulations or won’t be able to meet their customers’ demands for parking spaces.

And as developers lose interest in the city, others will follow them elsewhere.

That’s why finding a way to pay for a parking study, perhaps using economic development resources and grants, is in everyone’s best interests.

For the sake of its economic future and the quality of life of its residents, Schenectady needs to bring in professionals with expertise in downtown parking issues to gather all the data, put it in perspective and offer real solutions.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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