CLIFTON PARK — After more than a year of contentious debate over the fate of a plot of land near Shenendehowa Central School District, the parcel has been sold to the town, ensuring it will become a public park, the district announced Wednesday.
"Shenendehowa is pleased to announce that it closed on the sale of 37.59 acres of land adjacent to Shatekon (elementary school) to the town of Clifton Park today ... for $1.1 million," district spokeswoman Kelly DeFeciani said in a prepared statement.
The sale of the land was approved by voters on Dec. 5, but the completion of the sale allows planning efforts to begin for the future parkland.
The land sale came after a rocky, public debate over the land’s fate, including a public referendum in April 2017 that saw thousands of residents oppose the district’s decision to sell the plot to BBL Development — for about $2 million. BBL had planned to build a Shop Rite supermarket on the land.
The parcel, located off Maxwell Road, is heavily wooded. Because it is now under town ownership, state law dictates the land can only be used for public purposes.
"The Town Board was able to achieve this due to the town’s solid fiscal position, which allowed for the purchase to be funded through the town’s unassigned fund balance, commonly referred to as the surplus," Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said in a prepared statement. "Now that we have secured the purchase of the land, the Town Board will begin conducting a comprehensive, public planning process regarding the parcel’s future."
That process, according to the town, will follow the same template as other long-term planning processes conducted by the Town Board in recent years and will include opinions and ideas from the community derived from public meetings. It was unclear as of Wednesday when the first meeting would take place.