Saratoga County

Grant would help preserve farm near Saratoga battlefield

A farm near the historic Saratoga battlefield site in Stillwater would be protected from future deve

A farm near the historic Saratoga battlefield site in Stillwater would be protected from future development under a grant award being recommended by the county’s Land Preservation Committee.

The committee voted this week to award $259,700 toward purchasing the development rights to part of the Joseph Cocozzo farm, located immediately south of Saratoga National Historic Park.

The county money will go toward preservation of 70 acres out of a 330-acre farm, but preservation groups hope to eventually buy development-blocking conservation easements over the entire farm.

The committee this week recommended awarding a total of $570,000 in county funding to three projects: the Cocozzo farm; an easement on the Foster Sheep Farm in Northumberland; and the town of Clifton Park’s purchase of future park land on the Mohawk River.

There was $500,000 included in the current county budget for land preservation, though that program is currently scheduled for elimination in the 2012 budget. In addition, the committee had $70,000 to spend, left over from money it awarded to a 2009 project in Clifton Park that fell through.

The county Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday on the committee recommendations.

“It’s a good mix of projects, but there’s a definite emphasis on the preservation of farmland,” said committee chairman Philip C. Barrett, R-Clifton Park.

The Cocozzo project has unsuccessfully sought state conservation grant funding several times over the last decade. Current hopes for additional funding look to the Open Space Institute, a private non-profit land conservation group that works in the Hudson Valley.

OSI isn’t currently actively involved, but considers preserving the farm a priority, said Katie Stone, OSI’s land project manager.

“We’re thrilled to hear this,” Stone said. “The whole farm is a very important piece of Saratoga County farmland from a number of perspectives: soil quality, viewshed, proximity to the battlefield.”

Stone said the institute has been working on land preservation projects around the battlefield for 20 years. In September, it announced it had acquired the 49-acre Quincy Farm in Washington County, part of the battlefield’s viewshed.

County officials said the Cocozzo deal would also preserve the ability to have an off-road recreation trail someday between the village of Stillwater and the battlefield.

The other projects the committee recommended include $70,000 to reimburse Clifton Park for part of the $315,000 it paid in September for 42 acres along the Mohawk River, including 2,000 feet of river frontage.

Barrett said the land gently slopes down to the river and has potential to become a town park with a beach.`”It’s a beautiful piece of property,” he said.

The committee also reaffirmed its commitment to provide up to $240,300 in funding to preserve the 144-acre Foster Sheep Farm on West River Road in Northumberland. The panel initially agreed to back the project in April, when preservationists needed a local match for a federal grant application. .

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