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Committees To Study Future Use Of Clifton Park Land Purchase

Lucas Willard

The Town of Clifton Park in southern Saratoga County is creating two new groups to discuss the future of a piece of land recently purchased from a local school district.

Last month, Clifton Park closed on its purchase of 37 acres from the Shenendehowa School District. The land was the subject of two referendums with high turnout.

In the first, voters rejected the sale of the district-owned land to a developer who intended to build a supermarket on a portion of the property.

In the second vote, residents allowed the town to purchase the land for $1.1 million for the purpose of building a park.

Now, with the sale finalized, Clifton Park is moving ahead to form two committees to study how exactly the property will be used.

Phil Barrett is Clifton Park town supervisor…

“The committees are intended to ensure that we generate a tremendous amount of public discourse and differing ideas, as well as a plethora of opinions across a broad section, a cross section of the community,” said Barrett.

One group, the Clifton Park Exit 9 Public Land Planning Committee, will include Barrett and other members of the town board, planning department employees, and representatives from the town’s Open Space Committee and planning board.

Another will include local stakeholders, including representatives from the neighboring Town of Halfmoon, the Shenendehowa School District, and other interested parties.

The town has invited the Friends of Clifton Park Open Space to send a representative to the stakeholders’ committee. The Friends group rallied residents to reject the sale to a developer.

Friends of Clifton Park Open Space President Frank Berlin said the 37 acres, which sit between a busy commercial zone and school playing fields, couldn’t be located in a better spot.

Considering the turnout for the two referendums, Berlin said enthusiasm for a park seems high.

“So we had people believe that we could do something and I think we all had faith in one another that we could get it done. It was a tough task, but the majority of the people, they saw the value of the land with being preserved for the public,” said Berlin.

The Southern Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce has also been selected to provide a representative to sit on the stakeholders’ committee.

Chamber president and CEO Pete Bardunias had vocally supported the proposal to sell the land to the developer, who had said would donate half the parcel back to the town.

But he said the chamber also supports the choice made by the people of Clifton Park. He said a park would complement the town’s existing assets, in a community he said some people once thought of as “flyover country” between Albany and Saratoga Springs. 

“The park is going to factor into all the different things Clifton Park is doing. They have so much wonderful recreation space here and the park will certainly augment that. It will be interesting from my perspective to see how it fits into some of the other work being done in what we call Clifton Park’s downtown, where there is a lot more commercial stuff being placed,” said Bardunias.

The local YMCA, public library, and a development company have also been named stakeholders.

Barrett would like to have all invited parties inform the town of their representatives by April 16th.

“And once we have all of that information, the town board will officially appoint the committee and at that point we’ll start working on a schedule,” said Barrett.

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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