BALLSTON SPA – Ballston Spa village officials are continuing to broker a deal to sell the 130-acre Woods Hollow Nature Preserve it owns to Milton, which has been maintaining the preserve for over 30 years.
Milton Supervisor Scott Ostrander said the town has been maintaining the site at a cost of $10,000 to $12,000 a year over the last three decades and has never billed the village.
“Most of the residents in our town utilize that property,” he said. “What we would do is just go in and try to enhance the area. Maybe put some benches out for people and maybe, possibly, look at putting up a pavilion.”
He said there wouldn’t be a campground.
All of this comes as spring weather begins to set in and the village already hired LUMAC over the winter to come in and take down trees that were dead or dying – something that is typically done to maintain the health of a forest – when the supervisor suggested the town buy the land.
“In this case, we would’ve been taking out one out of every six large trees, mature trees,” said Ballston Spa Mayor Frank Rossi.
Over the past few months, the two municipalities have been trying to work out a deal that Rossi said would ultimately sell the forest to Milton but ensure Ballston Spa wasn’t held liable for backing out of the contract it had with LUMAC to cut the trees.
“We’re kind of on the hook in that respect because they too would have an expectation of making revenue from this for the work that gets done by whatever subcontractor they use to do the cutting,” Rossi said about the LUMAC contract.
Ostrander said he thought they were very close to reaching a deal after settling on a sale price and then an agreement that Milton would take over leaf pickup and plowing for Colonial Hill, the largest subdivision in the village, for the next five years. Ostrander said that would cost the town $112,000 over those five years.
However, on March 13, Ostrander said the village came back with additional requests following an executive session.
“It seems like when we come to an agreement then all of a sudden there’s more demand that they want,” he said.
He said he responded to the village and is waiting to see where negotiations will go.
“Our stance at the town at this point is that we believe that we’ve bargained in good faith at the table and we’re very close and they should hold to that agreement,” Ostrander said.
Rossi said he will propose sitting down with Ostrander on Monday to continue negotiations.
“I’m confident this is going to get done,” Rossi said Friday.
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