Blogs > Saratogian Newsroom

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

Wednesday, March 19

In the year 2000...

(I hope everyone read that headline in the voice of LaBamba from the Conan O'Brien skits)

We've been cleaning out the cabinets here at The Saratogian, and in addition to finding an impressive number of ceramic sculptures and photos of people with impressive haircuts (mostly the late 80s early 90s) we came upon a 1979 column by then-Mayor Raymond Watkin looking ahead 21 years to the year 2000.

Now, looking back 14 years to the same marker, we can see the things he was concerned about then are the same concerns talked about today. (Impressive, most impressive).

He talks about the need to avoid development of "sameness" in the city. "A city needs something to set it apart," he wrote, saying that the city needed to embrace its historic architecture while moving forward.

Watkin also warns against over-development and a lack of adherence to planning and zoning considerations, though his focus at times is on keeping different land uses separate and today all the rage is mixed-use (though not industry and residential, as he alludes to).

Watkin touted the need to maintain the pedestrian-friendly downtown that the city enjoys today and keeps building on.

"By the year 2000, the pedestrian, or consumer, will be able to shop in the central business district with all of the ease and pleasing atmosphere that is prevalent in the new shopping malls today," he wrote, which is certainly true at this point, if not today since this brutal winter still isn't over. (Why didn't you warn us Ray-stradamus?)

He also mentions "THE PARADOX of the automobile" which has "been both a blessing and a curse to Saratoga Springs."

It certainly has. It wasn't 3-1/2 years ago — still 11 years past the year Watkin was forecasting — that the city announced plans to build a parking garage (then called a "parking deck") to ameliorate that vehicular dilemma.

"For far too long — decades, in fact — the issue of downtown parking has gone unresolved," Mayor Scott Johnson said in the City Center in August 2011. "Well, today I am proud to announce a project that will directly solve, in large part, the parking shortage in the center of our vibrant downtown."

Of course, this year two other parking garages are in the works. Both for specific purposes, but both to address necessary increases in parking for their respective projects. 

So it would seem Watkin's predictions were more sage for longer than Johnson's, but then neither have a crystal ball. 

Watkin had some interesting ideas on the paradox — "it is anticipated that new modes of transportation, that work in conjunction with the automobile, will be developed by the year 2000" — and here his prognostications take a turn for the "huh?"
"For example, large easily accessible parking lots might be established along the Northway for outside visitors. A shuttle bus would continually transport theses people to a network of... (wait for it)... 'People Transporters.' This network would run within and between the central business district, the race tracks, the recreation parks and the industrial parks. For city residents, lots and garages would be located just outside of the core area with a direct connection to the transport system, so that by the year 2000, visitors and residents will be able to shop, conduct business, dine, visit the race tracks and catch a Performing Arts Center show — whenever they wish — without using their cars." 
Well, MOST of the piece still rings true today and I would give him high marks for the issues he identified 35 years ago. I probably would have said we would have flying cars by 2000.

Probably by 2035, though.....

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home