Saratoga County

Plans for park soccer fields sidelined

Plans to create soccer fields in the town’s new 150-acre park in Rexford have been sidelined, but


Plans to create soccer fields in the town’s new 150-acre park in Rexford have been sidelined, but a recreation committee will meet this week to plan for future space needs for soccer and other sports in Clifton Park.

Town Councilman Tom Paolucci, committee chairman, said all plans to add or move sports fields will be suspended until there is more information about short- and long-term athletic needs.

“I don’t support any new active fields [now],” Paolucci said. “We don’t know how many fields — soccer, baseball, lacrosse, football — we even need right now. We have more questions than we have answers.”

The committee, comprising residents from all areas of town, open space representatives and elected officials, entertained the idea of using some of the new park land on Route 146 near Garnsey Road and Nott Farms for about 10 soccer fields. That move would have taken the pressure off the 80-acre Clifton Common, which has six regulation and three half-size soccer fields.

But neighbors near the site aired their concerns at several Town Board meetings about traffic, littering, noise, lighting, altering the landscape of the heavily wooded acreage and the possible negative effects on surface and groundwater once septic systems were installed at the park. Opponents said they weren’t against the idea of finding field space, but it needed to have another location.

“We understand it’s a huge sport in this area, but it’s totally inappropriate to put fields on that land,” Fran Gordon said. “It would be very costly and would break up the interdependency of the ecosystem; you change one part of the environment there and it affects every other part.”

The Clifton Park soccer program has outgrown its current home with an enrollment of 1,400 players in the youth recreational program and more than 600 players in the travel soccer program. The recreational program consists of a 10-week spring league and a seven-week fall league. The travel program begins in September and ends in mid-July.

Talks centered last week on scaling back plans for 10 fields at the Rexford park to locating three or four fields in the rear of the parcel, a move Gordon said would still interrupt passive use of the land.

“Anyone using the park for walking, hiking or biking would come across the fields; you can’t just tuck them away into the back,” Gordon said. “The noise, water issues and parking problems would also remain.”

Paolucci said the committee will move ahead this week to put the engineering plan out to bid to use the land for a passive park with year-round access to walking and cross-country trails, pavilions, picnic areas and a central water feature such as a pond.

“Once we get a draft plan, we’ll invite everyone to weigh in on it; this isn’t something that’s going to move ahead until it meets everyone’s approval,” Paolucci said.

In the meantime, Paolucci said they’ll take a look at neighboring towns and their athletic space.

The town of Halfmoon, for example, is building eight baseball fields at its new family park location due to be completed in 18 months.

“There are incentives for towns to share facilities, and with the entire county growing in population it only makes sense to work cooperatively,” Paolucci said.

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