Schenectady County

Town of Colonie, Albany County close to a deal for Heritage Park

The town is moving closer to finalizing the sale of its share of Heritage Park to Albany County for

The town is moving closer to finalizing the sale of its share of Heritage Park to Albany County for about $2.7 million, money which would be put toward reducing the town’s deficit.

Town Supervisor Paula Mahan said Thursday the town attorney received the proposed contract from the county attorney Wednesday and is reviewing it. Mahan expects to bring the final terms of the contract to the Town Board in a couple of weeks.

Mahan said the $2.7 million the sale would bring is a key component to the town’s return to financial health and she’s worked with County Executive Michael Breslin since she was elected to finalize the agreement.

“This agreement should send a clear message to the taxpayers that this administration is serious about reducing the deficit we inherited,” Mahan said in a written statement.

The Town Board would have to approve the sale of the town’s portion of the jointly town- and county-owned town park to the county, but it’s unclear if members support the move.

The county Legislature must also have approve the purchase.

Breslin has always been committed to the sale and recently affirmed his commitment, said Breslin’s spokeswoman, Kerry Battle.

“We are getting close to undertaking a study of 160 acres of land the county owns around the airport, which includes the Heritage Park, and we hope to get the best use of the land from an economic development perspective,” said Battle.

The estimated value of Heritage Park is just over $5 million, she said.

Meanwhile, the town continues to try to find ways to reduce its estimated $18 million deficit. Mahan recently proposed a one-time tax that would average about $250 per resident to reduce the deficit.

Town officials met with the state Assemblyman Bob Reilly, D-Colonie, and state Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Albany, to explore legislation needed to enact such a tax.

“If we pursue the route for state legislative approval, the board could vote on it in May,” said Peter Gannon, Colonie’s director of operations.

The town is already seeking legislative approval to put deficit financing in place as a safety net, said Gannon.

Another option is to wait until 2009 to add the additional tax. “If it was done in January, it would have to be approved by the Albany County legislators to add a line to the tax bill.”

“We are keeping all the options open. Ideally we will do this as soon as possible,” said Gannon.

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