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What you need to know for 01/22/2018

Editorial: Addressing Saratoga's drinking problem

Editorial: Addressing Saratoga's drinking problem

Earlier bar closings a diversion, not a solutiony

There’s no doubt about it: the late-night party scene is flourishing in Saratoga Springs.

And late night isn’t the only time this downtown is brimming with activity. The streets of Saratoga Springs are brimming with people nearly all day long, especially now that summer has kicked in.

But success needs to be managed, and when it comes to late-night revelers causing problems in the streets, Saratoga Springs needs to recognize that solutions are far more complicated than simply shutting the bars an hour earlier.

That proposal, which some city officials had been advocating for months, died earlier this week in a Saratoga County Board of Supervisors’ committee vote. In rejecting the idea, county supervisors said they didn’t want to interfere with private enterprise.

That’s curious reasoning because the existing 4 a.m. closing time is a form of interference, albeit one that comes an hour later. Nonetheless, we’re glad to see the proposal taken off the table so that more substantial ways of addressing over-drinking can be aired.

To be sure, closing the bars at 3 a.m. instead of 4 a.m. would send a few people home earlier, and would quiet the streets a bit sooner. But the change would not have substantially addressed the real issue of loud, obnoxious and sometimes dangerous people rolling out onto the streets after a few too many beers. That can happen at 1 a.m. just as easily as 4.

No matter what time the last drinks are served, people should understand that too much to drink can have dangerous consequences. It’s not just the fights in the street: it’s the drunken driving accidents that happen at all hours of the night and day.

Our solution isn’t quick or easy. The community needs to encourage responsible alcohol consumption, a task that has challenged this society for generations. One message that needs to be conveyed: You don’t have to get blitzed to have a good time.

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