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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Thursday, October 6

Parking garage VS. Parking deck.

For days now the two sides in the title of this post have been waging a war in my brain.

When Mayor Scott Johnson first announced he was going to build a... parking structure on Woodlawn Avenue he continuously used the term "Parking deck" and seemed to be avoiding the alternative "parking garage" (I seem to remember him correcting me once when I referred to it as a parking garage, but that may be a dream-- I've been dwelling on this).

Googling it didn't much help. Some websites said the two terms were synonymous. Others said it was a regional difference — the Southeast uses the term deck, the Midwest uses "Parking ramp" (which just seems foolish) etc.

I put the question to people in my office, working out the key piece of each term Deck vs. Garage.

Deck seems to imply a more open space, a single story and is generally less imposing. "Deck just sounds prettier," said Business and Education Reporter Suzanna Lourie, something I agree with. It seems like Saratoga Springs to have parking decks, not garages (at least in its own mind).

On the other hand, both she and Assistant Managing Editor Betsy DeMars said a garage is more enclosed with full walls. DeMars also said she thinks of a parking garage as having a basement level. I don't necessarily think that, but I do think multiple levels.

Then both of them told me I was being too nit-picky and splitting hairs and while they didn't necessarily tell me to go away, I got the hint.

But it seems our thoughts weren't entirely off-base.

"My opinion, of a parking garage is considered a "building" is somewhat enclosed, usually multiple levels and has a more intricate design, detail and structure and is governed strictly under the building code of NYS," said Wayne Williams, an engineer for U.T. Marx Construction which has built numerous parking garages in the area (I don't know if anyone cares to know which ones, but here they are anyway).

"To me," he continued, "the term parking deck on the other hand refers to a more liberal design typically not enclosed on any sides and typically only one

And then he voiced the issue that sent me down this path. "Of course as always semantics comes in to play, along with agenda."

That hits the nail on the head. The reason it has held me up for days is because A) I expect to write about it semi-frequently and want to be consistent with my terminology, but more importantly B) It's a slippery slope to let politicians and other newsmakers frame the conversation about anything, even when it is as innocuous as Parking deck Vs. Garage.

Then what's next? Torture becomes enhanced interrogation, rebels become insurgents, layoffs become extended vacations?

Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but it all starts somewhere.

But I guess in this case, Johnson has been right all along and I will start referring to it — accurately — as a parking deck. That is, until the next level is added on top-- then it will become a parking garage.

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