For the better part of six years, the city of Schenectady tolerated the empty lot on which the former Brandywine School once sat being used for parking — anything from tractor trailer trucks to campers to boats. Recently, after finally taking title to the property, it decided to stop the practice. That’s not objectionable because the lot at times had the look of a junk yard; but the way the city decided to do so left something to be desired.
A few weeks ago, concrete barricades appeared from out of nowhere and were laid end to end around the lot, making it impossible for anyone (including dozens of congregants of the Afghan Islamic Center across Brandywine Avenue) to park there. According to Mayor Gary McCarthy, the barriers cost $5,000, which seems like a lot of money for a city that is hardly flush to deal with a problem that could have actually generated some income.
How? The city could have posted the lot, written parking tickets for anyone who persisted in parking there, and towed violators. It could also have even stationed an attendant there on Friday nights, when there are so many cars at the Islamic Center it creates traffic jams in the neighborhood, and charged a few bucks for parking! Instead, it loosed all those cars on a neighborhood where parking was hard to find to begin with.
Meanwhile, the Islamic group has offered $50,000 for the lot, which is a large one; but according to the mayor, other parties have also expressed interest and he is considering splitting the parcel up. That would be OK because a huge parking lot on an empty parcel like that wouldn’t do much for the neighborhood. And while church officials say they might build a community center on the property someday, that doesn’t seem like the kind of commitment the city can take to the bank. If the city is going to give the lot up for parking, it shouldn’t be the entire lot.