SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Just weeks from Saratoga’s busy track season, and a shaken-up Caroline Street seems to have been put on ice by many patrons.
“Nobody really wants to come out anymore,” said Tyler Kraus. The 24-year-old says he’s stopped coming to the downtown hot spot because of many new scary scenes like the stabbing at Gaffney’s in May. “It’s kind of annoying because people usually come out here to have a good time just chill vibe but now everybody is fighting all the time.”
So how will people feel safe enough to return? Finding solutions to a street that’s gaining a violent stigma certainly isn’t simple but businesses say it’s very important and that they’re up to the task. Hamlet and Ghost has grown into a Caroline Street staple in its seven years. Co-owner Brendan Dillon says collaboration is key.
“Having a police presence downtown that’s positive that encourages people to have a good time safely,” said Dillon. “After that, I think it’s on the business owners to say this is what’s acceptable this is what’s not.”
He says Caroline Street is no stranger to trouble like any other area with a nightlife, but he thinks the pandemic is partly to blame for recent extremes.
“Stress levels are a little higher for everybody,” said Dillon. “Gas is more expensive, groceries are more expensive and I think tempers are more likely to flare.”
Some businesses have supported the idea of cordoning off Caroline. Saratoga Mayor Ron Kim says the busy street should be treated as a venue.
“Like do at Disney world and almost every stadium in fact every stadium in operation,” said Kim. “When someone enters the area they’re searched their IDs are looked at and there’s no issue of civil rights because obviously if you don’t want to be searched you don’t go into the area,” he said. “Nobody on Caroline street needs to carry a weapon.
For now, businesses and leaders alike seem to be in a holding pattern, seeing what summer crowds with a newly regulated Gaffney’s could bring. Until then Dillon says customers shouldn’t cancel the Caroline Street reservations.
“I would consider changing where the business is at but for the most part I think it’s a safe fun town,” he said.