9.15.2015

Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors says yes to Saratoga National Golf Club Proposal - calls it good for economy and environment





Saratoga Springs - The Board of Directors of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce recently voted to support a proposal put forth by the Saratoga National Golf Club that, if approved, would allow a modest expansion of its facilities while permanently preserving hundreds of acres of open space via a conservation easement.

The City Council voted three to two to send this proposal to the City's planning board months ago for an advisory opinion. Both the City's Planning Board and the County's Planning Board have since reviewed this proposal and have recommended that it be approved by the City Council as a reasonable and balanced approach to protecting the City's open space and allowing for limited and clustered development in the city's outer district. 

"We hope that the City Council will listen to the expert advice being provided to them by our land use boards," said Todd L. Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. "There will always be voices who want to say no to everything but the experts appointed to determine what is best in terms of the use of our lands have said this project is reasonable and in line with our City's best interests."

Here's why this project deserves the City Council's support:

* This will be a huge boost to the tax base. The taxes that will be generated will all be to the benefit of the City as there will be no need for infrastructure, or firemen or policemen that would add to municipal costs and there won't be any children put into the schools as a residential subdivision would generate.

* With the conservation easements that have to go with this type of Project in this area of the City it will secure the concept of "City in the Country" and not detract from that concept. This will, in fact, be the largest swath of green space covered with conservation easements in the City other than the Saratoga Spa State Park.

* This will give the City another specific reason for people to come to Saratoga Springs making our City a great resort golf destination. This will be a boost to downtown as people who go there to play golf will want to spend the rest of their time exploring the City.

With respect to the Comprehensive Plan, Shimkus who served on the comprehensive planning committee adds that this document is 80 pages long with a very wordy two-page vision statement, four guiding principles, a dozen or more goals, and well over 200 recommended actions. He believes this is the type of document where everyone can find a line somewhere to suggest that the City can or cannot do something and they'd all be correct. 

"It was so poorly written that it supports the same things that it opposes at the same time," says Shimkus. "It is therefore left up to the land use boards and the city council to interpret and decide what they believe is best. In this instance, the planning board clearly believes approving this modest change in the zoning is good for the city. We agree completely!"

For instance:
 
The Comprehensive Plan - Economic Strength and Stability guiding principle says:
 
To preserve and enhance a City that is economically strong and adequately diversified to withstand cyclical changes in the economy; that creates economic and employment opportunities for all of its citizens. To encourage development that benefits and does not burden our tax base and is based on sustainable concepts. To foster job growth by retaining existing businesses and attracting new businesses within the City.
 
We believe the Saratoga National Golf Club proposal is clearly in-line with this guiding principle and these goals. It will help us to diversify our economic offerings and recreational amenities to attract tourists. It will create significant new tax revenue for the City. Best of all, it will encourage an existing business in our community to succeed, grow and thrive.
 
The Comprehensive Plan - Environmental Health & Resiliency guiding principle says:
 
To preserve and enhance a City that protects the natural environment allowing all residents regardless of income level to live and recreate in an area that is beautiful, healthy, vital and safe. To re-establish health and wellness as one of the leading reasons why people and businesses shall choose to visit and/or locate in the City making Saratoga Springs one of the healthiest places to live and work.
 
Once again, the golf club proposal includes provisions to permanently protect hundreds of acres of open space. The property is an integral part of the Saratoga Greenbelt Trail which will significantly improve the recreational trail resources available to local residents regardless of income; and it includes amenities that will support our #healthysaratoga movement's goal of ensuring that Saratoga Springs is one of the healthiest place to live and work.
 
The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce has nearly 2,500 members with operations and thousands of employees predominantly in Saratoga County. The organization is a visible and vocal advocate for its members and all of the communities within Saratoga County. 

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