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What you need to know for 01/20/2018

Editorial: Town board was right to move on park for Ballston

Editorial: Town board was right to move on park for Ballston

Bequest and passive use make for an affordable public park

The split on the Ballston Town Board over a new town park continues, but we were glad to see a majority of its members vote last week to proceed with plans for one. This issue has dragged on for more than a decade, and it’s time.

With Ballston already under development pressure, which will only grow with the arrival of GlobalFoundries, a second public park is needed. Supervisor Patti Southworth says she isn’t against the park, but she seems to keep hesitating and putting up obstacles.

Like last year, she wanted a public referendum — which shouldn’t be necessary for something like this.

Unlike the plan to create indoor soccer and lacrosse facilities in Niskayuna, all the residents of Ballston would benefit from preserving open space and having a passive park to walk, snowshoe, cross-country ski, etc. And, thanks to a generous bequest from a late resident (around $800,000), the town wouldn’t even have to use taxpayer money to buy the land and create it. Or to maintain it — at least for the first nine years or so, after which the costs would be modest.

But instead of looking at this as a gift, Southworth prefers to view it as an “underfunded mandate, a program we can’t sustain for the long haul.”

She is right about one thing, though. The park should only be used as a passive park, not developed for such uses as ballfields. That would run into substantial costs for the town, and would disregard the wishes of the donor, who wanted a passive recreational area that would be forever wild.

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