Saratoga County

Neighbors against park fields

Neighbors near the 150-acre property slated to become the town’s newest recreation park want project

Neighbors near the 150-acre property slated to become the town’s newest recreation park want project organizers to reconsider the idea of including 10 soccer fields in the plan.

Still in its early stages of development, the land is on northern Route 146 and Waite Road, bordering homeowners on Wing and Guernsey Roads, and also Knott Farms and Appleton Road across the highway. The town acquired the land last summer and wants to open the park to the public in spring 2009. Early sketches envisioned a combination passive and active park with year-round access to walking and cross-country trails, pavilions, picnic areas and a central water feature such as a pond.

The town could then expand its popular soccer program to new fields at the park. The town’s current eight soccer fields off Clifton Commons are bursting at the goalposts, officials said.

“We’ve simply run out of recreational space there,” Town Board member Tom Paolucci said. He is also the co-chairman of the subcommittee studying the park options. “The Common has only 80 acres and there’s no room for expansion.”

But most young soccer players are transported to games and practice by their parents, and homeowners near the proposed park worry about traffic, noise and effects on natural wetlands by sewers associated with toilet facilities.

“As a neighborhood, we’re not opposed to soccer, but our question is, is this the most appropriate site?” Fran Gordon said. Living nearby, she said she is polling residents for their thoughts. “The northern end of Clifton Park is much more rural in character, and we want to maintain this.”

Gordon said her priority is to protect the ecosystems in the sprawling land, which includes rolling hills that provide the second-highest vantage point in town.

“People don’t want to see any leveling done there, or removal of any of the three acres of forest,” Gordon said.

Paolucci said natural features of the land will be used to their advantage.

“The idea is to get closer to nature, not to alter it,” Paolucci said. “We may need to move or replace trees, but no decisions have been made to dig or cut down trees as of now. There are no stakes in the ground.”

Paolucci stressed that the committee is encouraging all town residents to offer their opinions, and that no decisions will be made hastily.

“Change can be very good for the town, but we need everyone to understand and address their issues up front,” Paolucci said.

The first public meeting on the project is being scheduled for mid-May. After a plan is drafted, the project will need environmental reviews, but will require no zoning variances as it is already dedicated parkland.

Categories: Schenectady County

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