City leaders are one step closer to implementing a downtown parking plan in Saratoga Springs. Our Matt Hunter explains.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Experienced by locals and out-of-town guests alike, downtown Saratoga's parking challenges are nothing new.

"If you are driving around looking for a parking space and you can’t find one, your experience right out of the box is not a good one," Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly said.

"Whether it is December or July, there is always a demand for more spots than we have," said Maddy Zanetti, president of the city’s Downtown Business Association (DBA).

Hoping to come up with possible solutions, last month city officials released a request for proposals to study and eventually develop a downtown smart parking management strategy.

By Tuesday's deadline, six parking management companies submitted bids ranging from $75,000 to $292,974.

"We are trying to look at smart parking, really getting the technology to help us move people through the city, find parking, find open spaces,” Kelly said Wednesday morning.

Kelly says the plan will explore a number of options, including implementing a smartphone app that shows real-time parking availability, restriping surface lots to add more spaces and potentially charging drivers to park downtown.

“We are not going to have big black parking meters on Broadway. That is not what we are going to do,” Kelly said. “We may start with just parking garages as paid parking. We have no idea; this is why we are doing the RFP, so they can help us make those decisions.”

“It is definitely a subject where our members are divided, residents are divided, everybody has an opinion," Zanetti said.

Co-owner of Impressions of Saratoga, Zanetti says the DBA is waiting to see the details of each bid before taking a formal stance. If the eventual plan includes paid parking, she's hopeful it won't feature spots on Broadway.

“We definitely do not want anything that would deter people from coming downtown," Zanetti said. “We just want to make sure that the city and whatever parking solution they come up with factors in the downtown businesses.”

The bids are expected to be posted to the city's website by Friday. Once a management company is selected next month, they will not come forward with any proposals until after completing their study this summer.

“We need to figure this out, as a city, what works best for our visitors and our local people," Kelly said.

In another downtown parking-related issue, Kelly says she's optimistic about negotiating a compromise between the City Center and Mouzon House Restaurant. The restaurant's owners have filed a lawsuit in hopes of preventing the City Center from building a more than-400-space parking garage next to their business.