Saratoga County

Malta studying placement of athletic fields

The town is going to look at locations in three parks as it develops a plan for new baseball, sof


The town is going to look at locations in three parks as it develops a plan for new baseball, softball and soccer fields.

The Town Board on Monday authorized initial environmental assessments for the Michalko property on East Line Road, a new site at Shenantaha Creek Park and at the “34-Acre Wood” site in Luther Forest.

The assessments will help the board decide which of the properties are best suited for what kinds of playing fields.

“We have a lot of different user groups in town,” said town Parks and Recreation Director Audrey Ball. “We’re looking at all the lands in town.”

The town for several years has been hearing from organized sports leagues and individual citizens who are interested in having more youth and adult athletic fields. There are also advocates for a town dog park.

The town for more than a year has been looking for, but been unable to find, a location suitable for a large field complex like Clifton Common in Clifton Park, Gavin Park in Wilton or Geyser Park in Saratoga Springs.

The town recently had The LA Group of Saratoga Springs do conceptual designs for the “34-Acre Wood” property. It found either baseball-softball or soccer fields could go there, but soccer fields would be more difficult because of the amount of flat land needed.

The consultant also offered ways soccer fields could be built on the Michalko and Shenantaha properties.

Ball said the designs are only conceptual, though, and the next study will look seriously at any environmental constraints that would limit development at each site.

The “34-Acre Woods” is within the Luther Forest Technology Campus. It was given to the town as a condition for approval of the high-tech park. The land, while designated for a park, remains undeveloped.

Groundwater under that site may remain polluted from chemical dumping that occurred when nearby land was a government rocket engine testing site in the 1950s. A federal Superfund cleanup in the 1990s didn’t address the underground plume, but there is a monitoring well on the site.

Ball said groundwater contamination doesn’t preclude developing playing fields on the surface, which is uncontaminated. But the subsurface conditions will be considered as part of the environmental assessment.

The Michalko property was also recently acquired and remains undeveloped. Ball said up to four soccer fields could be built there, but the land includes a significant amount of wetlands and she believes it would be a good location for a dog park.

The Shenantaha Creek Park already has one soccer field and Ball said there may be room for one or two more in what is a multi-use park. Users of the existing field also include rugby and lacrosse teams.

Malta’s youth are generally involved in youth athletic leagues in either Ballston Spa or Clifton Park, and all the leagues desire more playing fields.

“We have a lot of people who are interested and know we have a shortage of fields for baseball and softball,” said Don Slingerland, a local resident who advocates more baseball fields.

Ball said she also hears regularly from soccer backers who say more soccer fields are needed.

Town Supervisor Paul Sausville urged field supporters to be patient while the town studies its options.

“There’s $100,000 the town has set aside for park planning. This is the first baby step,” he said.

Sausville said the town will be getting more input from residents before making any decisions about where to develop athletic fields.

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