A hidden gem of green space nestled in the bustling commerce of Clifton Park may be turned into even more commercial real estate. The town is attempting to purchase the property to preserve it for the public, but has so far had little success.
The space consists of 34 wooded acres situated among Shenendehowa’s Shatekon Elementary School, the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library, and the Clifton Park Center Mall. Currently, the Shen School District owns the land, and has put the property up for bid. The school district plans to sell the green space for commercial development, and is seeking a sum upwards of $1.5 million. Bids are due by October 30th.
Town officials are attempting to purchase the property with hopes of keeping it a green space; officials do not appear to be optimistic about securing the bid.
“When you’re competing with bidders that are purchasing the property to make money, and we’re not, it’s a very difficult competitive situation,” Clifton Park Supervisor Phil Barrett told the Times Union.
The school district has owned the property since 1970. A bidder last year proposed $1.7 million, but later withdrew their offer. Town officials have reportedly made a monetary offer to the district that also included land for sports fields, but it was not accepted.
The school district intends to use the revenue to purchase another property for a new school, likely in Halfmoon. It’s well known in the area that the schools within the Shen district are widely overcrowded, and an additional school could go a long way in helping to ease that problem.
However, the argument being raised by Clifton Park residents is that a school district should be more concerned about providing a space that everyone can use for many, many years to come – particularly when the land has been paid for with taxpayer money.
Advocates of keeping the green space green have started a petition through change.org here that has garnered 550 supporters as of this writing. They’re calling the space “A ‘Central Park’ for Clifton Park.”
The main arguments the petition makes for keeping the area green are:
- It provides a space for the entire community to enjoy nature year-round.
- The enhanced pedestrian activity benefits the economic activity in the nearby shops and offices.
- It adds value to existing public facilities such as the library.
- It provides an “anchor” for promotional and tourism activities.
If the many Clifton Park residents and town officials get their way, this green space would be another victory for Clifton Park’s Open Space Initiative. The effort has permanently preserved 1,300 acres of green space in the area over the past 16 years – this includes the renovation of a trail connecting Clifton Park and Halfmoon, which is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
If you’re looking for more “green spaces” in Clifton Park, check out the hiking and biking trails.
- Times Union: Residents battle to save a green oasis in Clifton Park’s commercial heart