Re Jan. 13 editorial [“Shen land advocates need a park plan”] on the 34-acre parcel:
I believe The Gazette is off-base on this matter. The petitions obtained by Friends of Clifton Park Open Space, in fact, were signed by residents of Halfmoon, Ballston, Waterford and other communities in the Shenendehowa school district.
The signatures far exceeded the number of residents voting on the nearly $170 million yearly budget. It seems logical to me that a referendum would result in a vote not to sell the property as intended by the board vote. The referendum requires that the decision be taken out of the hands of the school board, which voted for the sale 4-3, and placed in the hands of the voters. This is a wonderful exercise in democracy and well deserved, since taxpayers have already paid for this land.
Since the town of Clifton Park offered $1 million for the property, the net monetary difference is $1 million. Amortized over a 10-year period, this results in a potential tax increase of far less than one 10th of 1 percent. There’s also the concern of not putting a new strip mall on the tax rolls. There’s a negligible effect on net school tax revenue, particularly considering there are vast open spaces in the western part of Clifton Park for location of commercial interests.
Of course, a referendum may be avoided if the school board changes its position on the sale and conveys the property to the town. Then the issues of park development, Eagle Scout projects and maintenance can be addressed. The school board should recognize that quality of life and community resources are part of the educational experience.