Saratoga mayor pushes for expansion of City Center board
SARATOGA SPRINGS Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen is spearheading an initiative to increase the City Center Authority’s board of directors by two, but is unlikely to get the measure addressed in the short remainder of the state Legislature’s session.
Both the Senate and Assembly would need to adopt legislation to allow the authority’s board to grow from seven members to nine, but neither is likely to have time to push for the change Yepsen sought earlier this month. Assemblyman John McDonald, D-Cohoes, who is helping Saratoga Springs with the issue because the seat representing the city remains vacant, said the measure still needs a support resolution from the city. The issue won’t be taken up until this evening, nearly 24 hours after the deadline to propose new legislation in this session of the Legislature, which was midnight Monday.
“For this legislative session, it’s not possible,” he said. “I just finished arguing for bills I’ve been working on for weeks.”
Likewise, state Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, is skeptical about the prospects of getting something adopted in such short order.
“[We] are still awaiting a local resolution from the mayor so this legislation can be introduced, and properly age, with only three days of session remaining,” said Josh Fitzpatrick, Marchione’s spokesman.
The authority’s board consists of its chairman and six other members — all mayoral appointees. Their terms are staggered, so that generally either two or three members have their terms expire at the same time.
Yepsen wants to expand the authority to keep pace with the City Center’s physical growth. The convention center on Broadway nearly doubled in size with an expansion completed in 2011 and is poised for another growth spurt with a planned parking complex on the horizon.
“It’s important that we show strength, and sometimes strength is in numbers,” she said Monday.
Yepsen intends to introduce the measure during the City Council’s meeting tonight, after the authority makes a presentation about a $10.6 million proposal for a five-story parking garage on High Rock Avenue.
At the council’s agenda meeting Monday, authority President Mark Baker seemed both surprised by and unsupportive of the proposed expansion of the authority’s board. He told council members that the existing board is also comfortable with its size.
“There doesn’t seem to be any need or justification for this expansion,” he said.
Yepsen said the authority board has remained unchanged through the duration of its 30-year existence. She said the existing seven-member board has performed well, but the authority should have a larger governing body to cement it as the city’s exclusive convention center, with the prospect of another event center looming at the Saratoga Casino and Raceway.
“We feel it’s important to have the City Center as the exclusive convention center for Saratoga Springs,” she said.