CLIFTON PARK -- Clifton Park and Saratoga County officials met at Kinns Road Park Thursday to sign papers that transfer ownership of the park from the county to the town, completing a years-long effort.
Town Supervisor Phil Barrett was joined by Town Board members and by county Board of Supervisors Chairman Ed Kinowski for the transfer.
The town was officially granted ownership of the park in September, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that, at no cost to taxpayers, transfered possession of the 64-acre parcel from the county to the town.
"Residents use the park every day. You can come here at any given time and see cars in the parking lot 365 days a year, regardless of the weather. People are here enjoying the park," Barrett said at the signing. "Kinns Road Park has been an important part of our parks and recreational network for many years, and after today, it is ensured that it will remain an integral part of our parks and recreation network for generations to come."
Saratoga County acquired the park from New York state in 1938. The town officially set its sights on the park in 2015, after concerned town residents protested a county plan to clear-cut wooded areas of the park. The county dropped its logging plans and entered an agreement that formalized the town's responsibilities to care for the park, even though the town had been informally overseeing the park's day-to-day upkeep for years.
The town has since entered into a partnership with Capital Region BOCES, by which students receive vocational training by maintaining the park and cutting down dead trees. BOCES will continue to work in the park.
"Our partnership with BOCES has been just fantastic," Barrett said.
BOCES Environmental Conservation and Forestry teacher Dennis Flynn agreed that the partnership with the town gives his students invaluable real-life experience.
"This is a great project for my students," he said at the deed signing. "The town and the county have been able to give students that real-life work. They actually do work that's meaningful. They see what comes out of it."
Last year's law was the town’s second attempt to win ownership of the land. In 2016, the state Senate passed a bill that was almost identical to this year’s legislation, but it died in the state Assembly because the town was unable to complete an Assembly-requested updated environmental survey of the land before the end of the legislative session. But the town was able to conduct the survey this year, which led to the Assembly’s decision to send the legislation to the governor for approval.
The law was sponsored by Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, and Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston.
Kinns Road Park is used for hiking, running and dog-walking and is home to at least one family of owls, according to Barrett. It is also used by the various athletic clubs from the Shenendehowa Central School District.