Saratoga County

Dispute flares over buying of trail head site

Supervisor Shawn Connelly said it is unclear how the town will come up with the $90,000 it spent

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Supervisor Shawn Connelly said it is unclear how the town will come up with the $90,000 it spent last year to buy property at 5 Campbell Road. The property will be used as a trail head to the town’s multiuse trail, which is still under construction.

At the time, the Town Board planned to use a $100,000 Empire State Development grant to pay for the land. However, Empire State Development said that the grant did not cover the purchase of land and denied the town’s request.

Former Supervisor Greg Connors said that, if he had remained in office, once the request was denied he would have paid for the property with recreational fees paid by developers. In this case, recreational fees would have been earmarked that had been paid by developer Camelot Associates, which built the Revolutionary Heights development just south of the village near Gurba Drive.

Connors said last January that the town would put aside the $125,000 in recreational fees for “the development and construction of the multiuse trail,” according to meeting minutes.

But Connelly was hesitant about committing that money to the project. “It’s unfair to the people of Revolutionary Heights that we’re going to use their benefit assessment to pay for the multiuse trail,” Connelly said. “We’re going to have to explore all avenues. We’re going to have to find ways to come up with the money.”

Connelly said that the $90,000 that has already been spent but not yet paid for puts the town in a hole for 2008.

Town officials originally thought a $370,000 state Department of Transporation grant would cover the cost of engineering, construction and paving was not going to be enough, Connors said, so the town applied for the $100,000 Empire State Development grant. But when bids came in lower than expected for the entire trail project, the town realized it didn’t need the $100,000 for construction.

So Connors said he hoped to put the $100,000 toward buying the land at 5 Campbell Road for the trail head. But when the town was denied those funds, Connors said, he settled on using the recreation fees.

But, Connelly said that the comment at last January’s meeting was the last time Connors mentioned using Revolutionary Heights recreation money for the multiuse trail.

“If that was something that was said from day one it would have been much more believable and would have taken some pressure off of him,” Connelly said. “Never again was the benefit assessment for Revolutionary Heights brought up.”

Residents have asked numerous questions about 5 Campbell Road at several recent Town Board meetings.

“In the end, who pays the bill?” asked Mechanicville resident Michael Coleman, who has been outspoken about the issue. “I think that’s the pinnacle question.”

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