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Clifton Park to hold park planning info session

Clifton Park to hold park planning info session

Sept. 18 open house will provide members of the community an opportunity to discuss the project with members of the design team
Clifton Park to hold park planning info session
An aerial view of the 37-acre plot now owned by the Town of Clifton Park that will soon be turned into a public park.
Photographer: Marc Schultz / Gazette Photographer

The Town of Clifton Park is seeking comments from residents on plans to build a park on 37 acres of land in town that previously belonged to the Shenendehowa Central School District.

The town will hold an open house on Sept. 18, during which the public will be able to check out the draft of the master plan for the park thus far, and then engage with planners in a discussion about the park and provide feedback.

The meeting will be held in the Clifton Park Halfmoon Public Library. The open house portion, during which attendees will have a chance to examine the rough draft, will begin at 5 p.m. and end at 7 p.m.

There will then be a half hour presentation from project planners about the park, following by a discussion at 7:30 p.m.

According to the town, the feedback provided will be used to refine the design and develop the final Town Park Master Plan.

Most recently, the town garnered some public feedback on the project via an online survey earlier in the summer

Prior to that, there were other workshops and community-oriented events being held to develop the park's master plan, including multiple walk-throughs of the property, where the public was able to join the Town Center Park Planning Committee to explore the site.

Jennifer Viggiani, the town's open space coordinator, said the objective of the upcoming meeting is to keep everyone on the same page, and provide the public with an update in the process. The comments gathered thus far, she said, are included in the draft.

"We've really been building on those public values," she said. "Now we're coalescing and synthesizing."

Working on the park plan has been a committee made up of town and other community officials, town planners, and Saratoga Springs-based companies Behan Planning and Elan Design to guide the park planning process. 

The town announced its contractor decisions in February. Behan Planning has worked with the town extensively in the past and was responsible for guiding the town through other large-scale, long-term projects, including the Clifton Park Town Center Plan in 2012.

According to Viggiani, the draft that will be presented, and, theoretically, the final plan, will demonstrate a deeper understanding of the site's wild and thickly forested nature.

She said that, in analyzing the site while creating the draft, engineers came to the realization that the area was more densely wooded and undisturbed than was at first clear, and part of the plan has been figuring out how to create access in and out of the site with as little disturbance as possible, as well as space for parking.

"Now that the town owns the land, it's time to dive in," she said. "It's not abstract anymore."

One major point that the town and designers took away from public input, Viggiani added, was that people want the space to stay largely the way it is, with minimal construction or deforesting. Town officials have previously pledged that their plan is not to chop down large amounts of, if any, trees while shifting the site into a park.

"They heard loud and clear that people wanted to keep it as natural as possible," she said.

Up until now, the park planning process has been largely educational for many people, Viggiani said, which activities like the park walks helped with. After the public meeting in September, the consultants and planners will put together the final plan and then tackle other questions that involve the physical planning of the park, including associated costs and whether or not construction will need to be done in phases. But public input will be crucial going forward as well, she said.

"I think we're getting closer to a more definitive plan. To design something truly, we need to experience it. It's going to take a whole community to be behind any implementation we do too," she said.

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