CLIFTON PARK – A procession of property owners expressed concerns to the Town Board on Monday about a proposed indoor-outdoor sports facility off Route 146A that’s in close proximity to a conservation-residential zoning area in the western portion of town.
Applicant Paul Rogan is proposing to disturb eight acres for the project, to build an approximately 45,800-square-foot — roughly an acre — facility.
Rogan said plans call for about half of a turf soccer field, which would be enclosed for winter use for youth programs in soccer, lacrosse, flag football, and other sports.
The project would be smaller in scale than Rogan’s shuttered Sportsplex of Halfmoon on Corporate Drive, which was forced to close due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
His latest proposal would be an estimated $4 million investment adjacent to Players Park, a mini-golf and footgolf business with an ice cream stand. Rogan said the ice cream stand would close if the project is approved.
The Town Board had referred the proposal to the Planning Board for an opinion, but the Planning Board could not reach consensus on whether to approve the plan with or without conditions or to simply deny it.
Rogan has downplayed his proposal’s potential impact on the neighborhood, citing the existing mini-golf and footgolf operations. He said the footgolf business is already lit and operates until 10 p.m.
But nearby homeowner Jim Carreese of Ballston Lake Road said the footgolf business is minimal and didn’t run that late at night. Carreese said he saw as few as six people playing footgolf the past five years.
“There is no footgolf business,” he said, adding that the ice cream business, likewise, shuts down early in the evening, and over the last couple of years was a limited business.
Rogan’s proposal, Carreese said, would be a dramatic change, and the speaker suggested Rogan “should be a lawyer — because it’s a wonderful sales job of telling us what’s going on — and it’s actually not going on.”
His wife, Jackie Carreese, said the proposal would “forever change the environmental footprint of the area.” She also expressed concern about the project’s potential impact on their private well.
Jackie Carreese said she has lived on her property for 20 years with her husband and son.
Her husband had lived across from what is currently the Players Park since 1956. Her in-laws sold their property a few years ago to the town as part of Clifton Park’s comprehensive plan to keep the western part of the town “Forever Green” with agricultural and environmental lands protected from development.
The property they sold is now the Mooney-Carrese Forest Park that offers light use with walking trails, cross country skiing trails, as well as numerous vernal streams and ponds.
“This is our life’s work,” she told the Town Board. “This is our life savings. There should be a complex such as this in Clifton Park. But not here. Why not Route 146? Why not Route 9, where there are local businesses that could support people attending venues at this complex, such as convenience stores, gas stations, fast food, restaurants, all those amenities that could help support when people go there.”
Bob LaBelle, a longtime real estate appraiser who built a home near the proposed site in 2003, agreed that a sports complex would be ideal for another part of town, and not their residential neighborhood that lacks for a water source.
“My primary concerns are first and foremost, that will totally change the character of my neighborhood as well as the entire western end of Clifton Park,” LaBelle said, adding that as an appraiser, “I can say without question that will have a severe and negative impact on my property value as well as the property values in the immediate proximity of the complex.”
LaBelle went on to say that the complex would hinder the marketability and reduce property values in the entire west end of town.
Friends of Clifton Park Open Space is also opposed to the project.
“This section of town has been studied multiple times and the town has created a variety of tools to protect the rural character and open space nature there,” the organization said in a statement. “These tools include an official Open Space Plan, Conservation Residential Zoning Codes, Conservation Design Guidelines, an Amenity Fund, Purchase of Development Rights, Conservation Easements, a dedicated Open Space Coordinator and a citizen based town Open Space, Trails and Riverfront Advisory Committee.”
The organization said the proposal “ignores foundational elements of the vision and requirements embodied in the town’s most recent Comprehensive Plan (2006), and the Conservation Residential Zone adopted in 2007 after the town adopted the Open Space Plan for Western Clifton Park.”
The proposed structure would be built at Players Park at 1012 Route 146A, next to the 18-hole Eagle Crest Golf Club.
During the hearing, Rogan called his plan “a very basic proposal.”
The businessman said that there are presently wonderful recreational opportunities outdoors, there’s no indoor turf space for lacrosse, flag football, soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, field hockey, and training space for football, baseball and softball.
He said the space would allow groups of 30 or 40 people to rent the space at any given time, generally evenings and weekends. He said the business wouldn’t be large enough to become a tournament venue, and it would use an amount of water similar to a three-bedroom, single family residence.
Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.