The effort to turn a 37-acre parcel — purchased a year ago from the Shenendehowa Central School District — into a town park now has two design firms behind it.
The Clifton Park Town Board unanimously approved a contract with Saratoga Springs-based companies Behan Planning and Elan Design to guide the park planning process, from start to finish.
Behan Planning has worked with the town extensively in the past and was responsible for guiding the town through other large-scale, long-term projects, including the Clifton Park Town Center Plan in 2012.
Behan Planning and Elan Design submitted a joint proposal to the town during a request-for-proposals process that garnered eight bids. The submissions were then analyzed by a subcommittee made up of members of a larger committee of town officials and local stakeholders who will provide input on the project as it moves forward.
The $145,000 contract approved by the board stipulates the companies will be responsible for studying the park site, designing the park itself and coordinating meetings with town officials and the public about the project.
Behan’s proposal outlines an effort to balance public input with the town’s desire to leave the land largely undeveloped and natural, said David J. Miller, who was on the selection committee and is the chairman of the town’s Open Space, Trails and Riverfront Advisory Committee.
“Behan is an excellent choice,” he said. “They’ll do an exceptional job in involving the public and community, as well as ensuring the park and environment are managed properly,” he said.
Town Councilwoman Amy Standaert, who was also on the proposal review subcommittee, said she favored the Behan plan because the firm has worked successfully with the town in the past.
Also crucial was the fact that Behan understood the town’s goal of preserving the area’s natural state as much as possible, she said.
“It’s a huge project and we have to do it right,” she said. “We don’t know what we’re going to have there, but I think with these guys, they understand that we have a mix of wants and needs in the community.”
The park planning effort is projected to take 12 months, though the contract retains the firms for two years, in anticipation of the process taking longer.
Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett lauded Behan’s past work on the Town Center Plan.
“We want to make it more accessible and inviting, and of course keep safety as a top priority,” he said.
Barrett added that the extra room in the contract will allow the planning process to proceed in a way that is not rushed, noting that in the past, townwide planning projects have taken up to 18 months to complete.
“It just gives us a larger time frame and a more comfortable time frame. We don’t want to be limited,” he said.
The first step, according to the Behan/Elan proposal, is to meet with the park planning committee to outline the project’s goals and gather initial input and ideas. After that, an in-depth analysis and inventory of the park site will be conducted, which will include establishing the site’s boundaries, accessibility, and habitat.
The designers will also orchestrate a number of public meetings, mobile workshops at the park site, social media and other online communications, newsletters and visits to school district events and other youth-centered programs.
“What an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the community — and for our consulting team — to develop a beautiful plan for a brand new town park for the entire community to enjoy,” Behan said in a prepared statement.
The wooded park property, located off Maxwell Road, was purchased from the Shenendehowa school district after a public referendum in April 2017 saw voters reject a plan to sell the land to BBL Development — for about $2 million.
BBL planned to build a ShopRite supermarket on a portion of the property.
The sale of the land to the town — for $1.1 million — was approved by voters in a second referendum on Dec. 5, 2017. By law, the land can now only be used as a public park. The town and school district closed on the deal in February of 2018.
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