SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — People enjoying the sunshine on the way to Congress Park Friday seem to love the new rainbow crosswalk painted for the start of Pride Month. Children and parents could be heard all afternoon exclaiming over the colorful addition.
Unfortunately, the new crosswalk seems to be stirring controversy. NEWS10 obtained an email from Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly asking the crosswalk be removed Friday and claiming it violates Department of Transportation regulations. Mayor Kelly wrote a Patrick Barnes from the New York State DOT called her to complain.
Public Safety Director Robin Dalton says her department was in charge of the crosswalk and she doesn’t understand the problem.
“The public safety department did extensive research into whether or not it could be installed in the city and vetted both of the design and placement,” Dalton explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
She adds she and Saratoga Pride went ahead with Thursday’s unveiling ceremony, because it’s been a week since Mayor Kelly first raised objections over the crosswalk, but Dalton claims there has been no follow up from any state agencies.
“To date, I have not been contacted by the New York State Department of Transportation or been provided anything to warrant re-addressing the placement,” she says.
In fact, we checked in with Albany which has two multicolor crossings on Lark Street and Central Avenue. A representative with Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s office says they’ve never once received a reprimand from the DOT.
NEWS10 paid visits to Mayor Kelly’s office and the DOT Region 1 office off Wolf Road seeking answers. Finally, after leaving the DOT building, a representative replied to one of our emails with a statement attributed to NYS DOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez that reads:
As we have seen across the state and nation, these types of roadway displays have become important pieces of the communities that developed them and send important messages about who we are as New Yorkers. While unconventional, DOT will not stand in the way of a community’s ability to celebrate and promote these important messages of diversity and inclusivity. As the City of Saratoga is responsible for maintaining this roadway, we will respect whatever decision local officials come to regarding the future of this crosswalk and will work with them to ensure the safety of the intersection.
NEWS10 is still waiting for confirmation from a DOT representative if Regional Director Patrick Barnes did indeed call Mayor Kelly to have the Pride Month crosswalk removed. Mayor Kelly’s email shared with NEWS10 does include a link to a 2011 interpretation of a Federal Highway Authority ruling limiting colors in crosswalks, claiming colors are intended as communication devices for pedestrians.
Saratoga Pride also provided a statement via Facebook Messenger which reads:
Saratoga Pride is thrilled with the crosswalk, and had a wonderful event last night where hundreds came out to celebrate it and the community it represents. We feel it is unfortunate that it has become the target of controversy, but are hopeful that the issues will be resolved, and Saratoga will continue to be able to show its support for the LGBTQ+ community through this beautiful symbol.
“We should really be focused on celebrating pride month and celebrating this beautiful symbol of unity and openness and welcoming and you know, I hate to see anything distract from that,” says Dalton.