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Rezoning considered in Saratoga Art District to attract more artists

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Updated: 2/17 10:59 pm

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – One local city is considering rezoning a neighborhood with the hopes of attracting up and coming artists to town, but current residents are not too happy about the idea.

Beekman Street in Saratoga Springs has played host to artists for more than a decade. Now some city leaders would like to expand the Art District which could turn many of the residential properties into commercial store fronts.

"The people that live here, overwhelmingly are against it," said resident Jim Morrone.

Morrone lives on the west side of Saratoga Springs. He does not want to see the Beekman Street Art District expanded.

"It would definitely change the neighborhood and the peacefulness that this has become," he said.

Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen said 20 years ago the area was bleak and the city lent a helping hand.

"We began to ask artists to renovate buildings and purchase buildings, create gallery spaces; a couple of retail shops were opened," explained Yepsen.

The artists in the area helped, but only for a short period of time. Mayor Yepsen said that is because they have moved out of the area. The Art District Association is also pushing to expand the art district.

"We need to give another boost just like the city did many, many years ago to that area," said Yepsen.

Since the area would be mixed residential and commercial, Marrone and some other residents see that there are a lot of unanswered problems.

"What types of commercial? And of course the parking is a major problem," said Marrone.

He fears it opens the door to more than just artists. Right now Morrone says some of the commercial businesses wouldn't have city oversight.   

"This is not good for our neighborhood, not good for the city, and it absolutely has no application in a residential neighborhood," he said.

However, Yepsen thinks if implemented right, the project has good economic and astatic potential.

"I don't think it's going to have a huge impact on the residential feel of the neighborhood," said Yepsen.

There will be a public meeting on Wednesday February 26th at City Hall where residents can voice their thoughts and opinions about the potential project.

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