The 34 acres of undeveloped property located among Shatekon Elementary School, the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library, and the Clifton Park Center Mall, have been sold to the highest bidder. Friends of Clifton Park Open Space had been working hard to preserve this land, and they’re not about to stop.
BBL Construction submitted the highest of four bids to purchase the land at $2.05 million, which amounts to almost $60,000 per acre. The other bidders were DCG Development with $1.52 million, United Group with $1.13 million, and the town of Clifton Park with $1 million; Shenendehowa School District, who owns the land, was seeking at least $1.5 million.
The town had been planning on keeping the land as green space, but was unable to reach the minimum asking bid. Also, the payments would be have been spread out over a year, and this was not allowed under the district’s Requests for Proposals.
The school district is planning to use the money from the sale to build another elementary school – something badly needed in Shen’s growing school system – in Halfmoon.
BBL has not publicly announced their plans for the land. Although, they have offered to donate 17.5 to 19 acres to the town for its own use, but Friends of Clifton Park Open Space is not satisfied with this compromise. On their Facebook page, the Friends group indicates that they believe this land would be mostly wetlands – in other words, land that BBL would be unable to use for development anyway.
The sale was approved by a tight 4 – 3 vote, indicating that even members of the Shen school board have reservations about turning this land over to commercial developers.
“Once we do this, the land will be gone forever,” William Casey told the Times Union; Casey was one of the board members to vote against the sale. “There is no next time for that land.”
Friends of Clifton Park Open Space is ready to push back on the sale. The group is currently collecting signatures to force a referendum, and they’re also seeking legal advice on whether or not they have grounds to sue the school board for the way it handled the vote.
“This is a highly unpopular decision,” Friends Vice President Susan Burton told the Times Union. “There will be a long-term impact on the community. We are fully prepared to take legal action.”
If the group is successful in preserving the green space, what exactly will be done with that space is still up for discussion. Elements like playgrounds or gazebos could be added, or it could be kept as is, with pathways for walking.
About 1,200 people signed a petition prior to the sale asking to keep the land undeveloped – the Friends group is now asking those same supporters and others to step forward and sign a legally binding petition to force a referendum.
If you’d like to sign the petition or get further information on how you can help visit the Friends of Clifton Park Open Space website.
- Albany Business Review: Open space group will try stopping Shenendehowa land sale to BBL
- Times Union: Shenendehowa land goes to developer, not park