Saratoga County supervisors will hold a special meeting next week to push for state legislation that would shift ownership of the Kinns Road park from the county to the town of Clifton Park.
The special meeting of the county Board of Supervisors will take place in Ballston Spa next Wednesday afternoon. County and town officials hope that the state Legislature will be willing to act on the request before it adjourns for the year on Thursday.
The matter is considered a “home rule” request, the sort of law adopted routinely if local officials request it. The late timing, however, has raised questions about whether legislators will have time to adopt the bills.
The home rule bills are being sponsored by state Sens. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, and Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, in the Senate and by Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, in the state Assembly.
The Board of Supervisors requested the bills in February, but is required to endorse them again now that specific legislation has been introduced.
Officials aren’t entirely optimistic.
“I’m told the legislation ‘has a chance’ of being passed this session,” said Saratoga County Attorney Stephen Dorsey.
A representative from Tedisco’s office is expected to attend the meeting so that the support resolution can be hand-delivered to Albany as the Legislature prepares to enter what are generally frantic final hours of the session during which dozens of bills will be passed.
“Obviously the timeframe here is very tight, but we’re going to do everything we can to get it passed,” said Adam Kramer, Tedisco’s chief of staff.
The Clifton Park Town Board adopted a resolution supporting the bills last Monday.
“I think it’s got a great chance,” said town Supervisor Phil Barrett. “Looking a it logically there is no change in the use. The town has and will continue to manage the park. I think the town ownership is good for the future of the park. From the outside is seems like a no-brainer.”
Transfer of the pine plantation — a popular hiking and cross-country skiing spot —would resolve questions over who controls the 63-acre property, after a dispute over its management last winter.
After the county made plans to log parts of the property, a number of Clifton Park residents objected, and received support from the town.
The Clifton Park Town Board asked for the property to be given to the town and county officials agreed, but the land transfer would require approval from the state Legislature.
The town now manages the property under an agreement the town and county reached in February, and the management agreement will continue even if the legislation doesn’t pass this year. Under that agreement, the town has removed some dead and diseased trees, but did less cutting than the county had planned.
The county has owned the land as part of its forest holdings since 1940, after the state gave it to the county as part of a reforestation program. In 1976, the county agreed to let Clifton Park develop the property for passive recreational uses; the town has since built a number of recreation trails and they have proven to be popular.
State laws require that the land not be used for anything other than forest or passive recreation.
“It’s popular park in the town and we see it remaining that way for many, many years to come,” Barrett said.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.
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