If you just go by the number of parking spaces available, Saratoga Springs probably has plenty of spaces to accommodate the people who want to shop downtown.
The locals know where to find them. But the spaces that the locals know about aren’t always the spots that customers will use.
In an unfamiliar city or at night, many shoppers want to park where it’s close and safe to where they’re going.
They won’t search for spots down local side streets or walk too far from their cars. And if they can’t find that spot, they’ll shop or dine somewhere else.
So the city needs to make a lot of those particular spots available for those visitors.
But shoppers aren’t the only people who need parking in the city. Officials also need to make sure they’ve set aside enough spaces for the people who live and work in the city.
But if the city sets aside too many of those up-close, convenient spaces for long-term parking, there won’t be enough spaces opening up on a regular basis to serve the customers who want to park up close.
Somewhere, there’s a balance. And the city needs to find it. In fact, they’re already trying.
A new parking initiative that placed three-hour limits on all the spaces in the two-deck Putnam Street parking garage — and in sections of other parking garages and lots in the city — is getting some heat for providing too much short-term parking, at the expense of long-term parking for residents and employees.
One suggestion made by the head of the county Chamber of Commerce, for instance, is to add more all-day parking spots to the Putnam Street garage for workers and residents.
In response, city Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin on Thursday announced that the city would indeed be converting many of those Putnam garage spots on the upper level to 24-hour parking.
The plan still might need further tweaking if visitors and businesses are still complaining about not having enough parking close to shops and restaurants.
If there’s a problem that every downtown business district wants to have, it’s too many people wanting to park there.
But no parking plan is ever going to make everyone happy.
The key is for officials is to continue to listen to businesses, residents and customers and to be flexible in trying to find the correct mix of spaces to best serve everyone.
The parking plan that’s just been enacted should be the beginning of the process.