GUEST COLUMN: Saratoga Springs must act to curb late-night trouble

The scene Sunday

The scene Sunday

By John Nemjo

For The Daily Gazette

When is it enough to warrant change?

Saratoga Springs, a city that boasts a laid-back, calm vibe despite the buzz of a vibrant downtown has a shadow looming over its safe and nonviolent reputation.

Over the last six months, we have had late night muggings, knifings and now a shootout in the downtown business and restaurant district.

Saratoga Springs, our city, closed its streets along its main shopping district to investigate another act of violence.

This past Sunday, a portion of Broadway was closed to everyone for most of the normal business hours.

Dozens of businesses lost an important day’s revenue and employees a day’s wages.

I guess as the incident of violence played out, we should be so lucky that we are not mourning greater losses.

So how long do we hold our breath and cross our fingers that something more extreme doesn’t happen?

While Saratoga prides itself on Health, History and Horses, it is also being called out as Drinking, Brawling and Danger.

My own business has had our storefront window demolished in the wee hours of the morning, not once, but twice over the last several years, both by intoxicated vandals.

The crowds have grown to uncontrollable levels in the bar district just one block below our beloved Broadway and the results are becoming more and more bothersome.

I don’t think I would consider it the type of image that our city is trying to portray itself as in attracting families and tourists to what I consider the finest city in upstate New York.

We have got to start asking ourselves if we can continue to let this problem fester or are we going to do something to gain back control of what happens on our city streets.

My father used to tell me that “nothing good happens after midnight.”

If that is the case, and my father being a very wise man, then what good can happen even later than that?

Does the business generated between the hours of 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. contribute to the city’s tourism attraction or is it creating more harm than support?

I think it is time to consider an earlier closing time on all bars and restaurants within our city confines.

A closing at 2 a.m. and an enforcement of the fire department maximum occupancy codes would go a long way to stemming the plague that these late-night confrontations are causing our city.

This is an image that I hope that everyone who calls Saratoga Springs their home and every conscientious business owner would be concerned about.

These issues need to be addressed and repaired now before our city gets a reputation as the city for dangerous people to congregate, instead of the sweet city known for its health, history and horses. A place that the whole family can enjoy.

Mayor Kim, the time to act is now before we start to lose the very people who we really hope to attract that support all the businesses here in town and keep out those who only come here only to party and cause harm to our fine city.

John Nemjo is the owner of Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company on Broadway in Saratoga Springs.

Categories: Guest Column, Opinion, Saratoga Springs

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