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Clifton Park, School District Officials Announce $1.1 Million Land Sale Agreement

Officials at the site of what supporters hope will become a future park in September 2017.
Lucas Willard

Earlier this year, residents of the southern Saratoga County town of Clifton Park rejected a sale of public land to a local developer. Several months later, town officials have announced a tentative purchase agreement that dedicate the 34 acres to parkland and open space.

Located between a busy commercial zone and two elementary schools, the 34 acres of Shenendehowa School District-owned land in Clifton Park is shaded by tall trees and criss-crossed by trails.

The school district had put the land up for sale, with some suggesting the revenue could be used to purchase property in neighboring Halfmoon for a new elementary school.

In April, town voters rejected the sale to a developer by a wide margin in a referendum. The developer had planned to build a supermarket on one portion of the property and donate half of it back to the town for the purpose of building a park.

Several months later, officials stood at the property Tuesday to announce a tentative agreement to sell the land to the town for $1.1 million.

Clifton Park supervisor Phil Barrett said the voices of town residents were heard loud and clear during the April referendum.

“As elected officials, we must always be keenly aware of the sentiments of the people we serve.”

Barrett said keeping the land as open space in the busy commercial zone fits in with the community’s Town Center Plan.

“We have many, many private businesses and public amenities right here at Exit 9 and there was overwhelming support for a park-like setting within this heavy commercial district,” said Barrett.

The town and school boards must both approve the tentative agreement.

Shenedehowa Board of Education president Bill Casey said an open discussion about the sale will be held at its upcoming meeting.

“But not vote on it that night. Wait two weeks, have a business meeting. The public can comment at the beginning of the meeting. We have a public comment section. We’ve heard from several of these folks in the past, especially the Friends of Open Space. We expect to hear from them and we’ll have an agenda item that night which will move this.”

Once approved by the school district, the sale will again go to voters December 5th.

If voters accept the sale, a committee will be formed and additional public meetings will be held to determine the future of the property.

Republican State Senator Jim Tedisco  was on hand Tuesday to pledge his support for the project, saying he will work to find state funding to help reduce costs for the town.

“And I do believe we will have access to funding to help the taxpayers of Clifton Park because they send quite a bit of money like every other taxpayer to the state of New York and my job is to fight to bring some of that money back and I believe we will secure it before the dust settles on that vote December 5th and I think the project is going to have a very positive impact on the quality of life,” said Tedisco.

Tedisco, along with Republican state Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, recently sponsored legislation signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to transfer control of the 64-acre Kinns Road Park in Clifton Park from the county to the town to ensure the land remains open to recreational purposes.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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