Sustainability and the Comprehensive Plan: What it Means for Saratoga
Sixty-plus people attended the Tuesday, May 22, 2012, Community Forum held at Empire State College on Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs, and hosted by Sustainable Saratoga. The goal of the forum was to engage City residents to determine the level of interest in updating the Comprehensive Plan and to start a dialog on what sustainability issues might apply to an updated plan. Saratoga Spring's current Comprehensive Plan was last updated in 2001; The City's charter states the Plan should be reviewed and possibly updated every five years. There has been consideration at City Hall to start a Comprehensive Plan Review process this year.
Sustainable Saratoga's Interim Chair, Rayna Caldwell, opened the forum, and Amy Durland, a member of the group's Housing and Urban Planning (HUP) Committee, moderated the event. The forum was planned by the Sustainable Saratoga's HUP Committee.
The Forum featured a three-person panel of local, state, and national experts in municipal planning and smart growth. The panel focus was to explore ways in which the municipal planning process can expand the use of smart growth principles and techniques. The panelists' presentations stimulated the audience to present their own ideas as to how Saratoga Springs can use the Comprehensive Plan Review process to increase community sustainability and improve the quality of life in the City for all residents.
Examples of topics discussed during the forum included keeping development clustered around transportation hubs, complete streets that increase pedestrian and cycling options, retaining and increasing municipal parks and greenbelts, planting trees, implementing improved stormwater management techniques, creating and expanding the city's trail systems, and the creation of permanently affordable worker housing within walking distance of downtown.
Many topics and questions were raised by audience members, reflecting the points made by the panelists as well as specific suggestions. These included the issue of traffic on Route 50, affordable housing options, the role of the school district in the community, how to exploit new communication systems (Twitter, FaceBook, etc.), and types of planning techniques that focus on the interconnections of various subsystems of the City.
David Hogenkamp, Project Manager at Empire State Future, working on economic revitalization of New York's main streets, town centers, and urban areas, by advancing principles of Smart Growth in land use and development decision-making.
Jeff Olson of Alta Planning, an architect and planner involved in greenways, open space, active living and alternative transportation projects for more than twenty years.
- Kate Maynard, Principal Planner for the City of Saratoga Springs, professional planner with a wide range of experience, including plan creation and implementation, project review, open space planning, and community and economic development.
At the end of the evening, moderator Amy Durland asked the audience if there was interest in continuing the public discussion of the city's Comprehensive Plan Review process and potential topics to be covered in a review. The audience resoundingly affirmed the idea.
Sustainable Saratoga is committed to facilitating the creation of a new path for our future. We envision a future Saratoga Springs where gardens are planted in every yard, regional farms thrive, people feel encouraged to leave their car behind, pedestrians and cyclists feel safe on the roads, where business choose to locate and where urban planning paradigms promote long term sustainability. Visit our website or contact us by commenting here or email.