(Editor’s note: The New York State Conference of Mayors invited all eighth-grade students in the state to enter an annual essay contest on the topic, “If I were mayor, I would....” This year, there were 1,267 essays submitted. The third-place winner was Ella Costantino, a student at Saratoga Central Catho­lic School who wrote about Saratoga Springs. Saratoga Mayor Meg Kelly presented her award at Spa Catholic’s academic and athletic awards ceremony June 1.)

If I were mayor, I would create better parking in downtown Saratoga. Downtown Saratoga is such a busy place full of great restaurants, beautiful shops and workplaces for many people. All year ‘round, downtown Saratoga is moving nonstop.

Track season is an especially busy time for little Saratoga. Everyone loves going downtown to grab a bite to eat with old friends or find the perfect dress to wear to the track. However, one thing people don’t love is finding a place to park while they enjoy themselves.

That being said, we don’t want to ruin beautiful land with an unsightly cement parking garage, or cause an uproar due to loud noises and extra-busy streets full of construction workers. Parking is an issue, but we also need to take into consideration the lives of the people we might be impacting.

To find a happy medium, I would do something that appeases both sides. Saratoga Springs has a parking lot right by our police station. Why not expand on that? I’m not saying we should create an ugly, five-story parking garage right smack in the middle of the town. As mayor of Saratoga Springs, I would have this parking lot reconfigured into a “green” parking lot.

This would not be your average parking garage. It would have a level underground for police-officer parking, and four more above ground. However, only three of those levels would be used for parking. The top level would be turned into a beautiful park with a panoramic view of Saratoga.

There would be artificial grass so there’s no need for maintenance. It would have a 100-percent recycled cast acrylic railing all the way around the perimeter of the park, trees in special areas where dirt was placed and beautiful reclaimed wooden swings for people to sit and relax.

This would be an easy way to create more parking that’s environmentally-friendly and not an eyesore. The parking lot is already there, so we wouldn’t be demolishing any existing structure. The parking garage would cost $5 for 24-hour parking. There would be gates in the entryways which would prevent any unpaid parking. Access to the park above would be from a separate area via elevator. The elevator would run on solar power to keep a green energy theme.

As mayor of Saratoga Springs, I would create a beautiful answer to the ugly parking problem we have today.