Editorial: A garage too high, too close

Sunday, August 11, 2013
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Parking around Ellis Hospital, one of Schenectady’s largest employers, has been problematic for decades, as the hospital keeps expanding on a basically fixed footprint. The situation figures to get worse when its newly expanded emergency room opens in 2015 — which is why it’s hard to blame the hospital for wanting to erect the largest parking garage the city will allow.

But the hospital’s proposal for a three-story garage on Rosa Road, approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals in June, was enough of a stretch — just seven feet off the sidewalk where 27 feet are required. In an urban setting, such as downtown, that kind of building would have made sense; but in a residential setting like the one around Ellis, it’s too much.

Now, because it saved enough money on its ER project, the hospital can afford a larger garage: five stories. But even with the proposed 15-foot setback, its 52-foot height would be too imposing for the neighborhood.

It’s unclear whether Ellis really needs that much more parking. Its problem seems more to do with employees who refuse to avail themselves of the hospital’s free shuttle system — parking a mile or so away on Hillside Avenue and taking a free bus to work — than with patients and their families. These employees are living in the past, when the hospital was a lot smaller and the neighborhood was less crowded. The hospital, which does prohibit them from using the existing garage or surface lots, can’t force them not to hog so many of the on-street spaces around the hospital.

The city could, however, adopting a residential permit parking system along the lines of Albany’s new one near the Capitol. Freeing up spaces around the hospital for residents and short-term parkers during the day would eliminate the need for a five-story behemoth.

Three stories, 15 feet from the sidewalk, should suffice.

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August 11, 2013
7:37 p.m.
justapto says...

Three stories will not meet future demands. Lets work with our 'biggest employer' and think outside the box.
Union College bought up Seward Place. Ellis should buy up the surrounding properties at a fair market price.

August 11, 2013
10:49 p.m.
gina99 says...

The solution is the satellite lot on Hillside. Ellis must improve transportation to that and stop destroying the last solid residential neighborhood in the City. Three stories on Rosa should be revisited. How many times will Ellis go back to the ZBA with this ugly parking eyesore? Stop putting lipstick on this pig and stop wasting everyone's time.

August 12, 2013
4:20 p.m.
robbump says...

The adjacent hospital is over 3 stories high, so why not the garage too? Build it as high as necessary.

August 17, 2013
9:08 a.m.
SusanFarber says...

I live on Rosa Road and it is very difficult now, without the 400-space proposed parking garage being built, to get out of our driveways. We homeowners deserve consideration here; we are the ones paying the property taxes. We live here, take care of our properties, pay very high taxes and want to continue to live here and maintain some quality of life. We don't need a behemoth garage looming large over our neighborhood, bringing with it noise, light and car exhaust pollution, and congestion. The parking garage on Nott Street is underutilized and needs to be worked on and used instead of destroying a beautiful neighborhood with a 5-story garage that Ellis claims they don't yet have a need for. How many neighborhoods need to be removed from our property tax rolls to satisfy corporate greed? How about the people who lost their homes on Bradley Street to make way for St. Clare's parking lot, and whose spaces sit vacant? Let's plan smarter for the good of our citizens. Ellis got approval for the zoning variance allowing 3 stories. Leave it at that.

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