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Petition drive seeks to halt Shen land sale

Petition drive seeks to halt Shen land sale

Petition drive seeks to halt Shen land sale
A path through trees is shown in September 2016 on land the Shenendehowa Board of Education has decided to sell for development.
Photographer: Cady Kuzmich

Community members are determined to preserve the 34 acres of undeveloped land behind Shenendehowa’s Shatekon Elementary School despite a 4-3 school board decision Dec. 6 to sell the land to a developer.

Friends of Clifton Park Open Space members are collecting signatures, both on paper and online, from those who want to preserve the land as a park. Advocates for the land hoped the school would come to an agreement with the town of Clifton Park so one of the last remaining green spaces in the area could be used as a town park.

Despite an outpouring of public support to keep the land in the public domain, the board agreed to sell the site to BBL Development, of Albany, which offered $2,050,001 and agreed to donate the portion it does not develop as retail or office space — about 17.5 to 19 acres — to the town to be used as a park.

The town’s bid was just $1,000,000 and would have been paid over the course of a year after closing. According to the school district’s attorney, David Rowley, the request for proposals forbade payment over time.

DCG Development, which submitted and then rescinded a bid of $1.7 million for the lot earlier this year, submitted a bid of $1,529,000 during the more recent round of bidding. United Group bid $1,125,000.

In order to bring the issue to a public referendum, community members need to collect 5,100 signatures by Jan. 5, according to Susan Burton, vice president of the Friends of Clifton Park Open Space.

Despite some initial confusion, as two different petitions were circulating, Burton said the issue has been clarified by “housekeeping” notes on the online petition. “We are well underway with this drive and are only growing more confident about its success,” said Burton.

The land, between Moe Road and Maxwell Drive, has been owned by the Shenendehowa Central School District since 1970 and was originally intended for the school’s expansion.

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