CLIFTON PARK -- A solid vision for a future park in the center of Clifton Park has, after years of planning and effort in securing the land, finally has been realized.
Saratoga Springs-based companies Behan Planning presented the entire plan to the Clifton Park Town Board Monday night. Behan has, along with Elan Design, helped guide the park planning process.
Clifton Park purchased the land from the Shenendehowa Central School District for $1 million in 2018 after an extensive back and forth and two referendums.
The overall plan is broken into roughly five sections: background of the park and goals; the existing conditions of the property, including the terrain; the public input garnered from the planning process; a complete analysis from the firms on those subjects; and the master plan itself in the last section.
A rough draft of the plan, released by the town in September, showed an emphasis after extensive public surveying on pedestrian accessibility, keeping the land naturally forested, and incorporating educational opportunities about the nature of the land.
The park planning process has been an extensive one, stretching over a year and incorporating various meetings and information sessions to spread public awareness about the project.
There were also workshops and community-oriented events held to develop the park's master plan, including multiple tours of the property during which the public was able to join the Town Center Park Planning Committee to explore the site.
"We've gone through a comprehensive public planning process. We've followed the same template that we've followed for many other long-term strategic planning processes that we've embarked upon and completed in the last 20 years," Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said on Monday night. "This project has a lot of interest," Barrett said.
The idea, a representative from Behan said on Monday night to the board, has been finding a balance between preservation of the land and making an attractive gathering spot for town.
"Our goal, from the beginning, has always been to understand the character of the land," Michael B. Allen, senior associate at Behan, said. "Find out what the people of Clifton Park want."
The surveys conducted indicated that a majority of people want to see the park retain its natural characteristics.
According to the plan, a natural park includes keeping existing trees in place and adding new and unpaved trails in various sections of the park.
Other considerations include how much parking space, if any, should be installed, and whether other amenities, such as picnic areas, should be created.
The main theme was to create a pedestrian connection, Allen said, from Moe Road to the town center.
"That was sort of the main spine of the idea, and from that, different design iterations came off of that," he said.
The entire master plan for the park can be accessed via the town's website.
Right now, Allen said, the plan is projected to cost approximately $3.7 million, and would be divided up into two construction phases, or more, if the town decided to stretch it out more. Upkeep, including plowing, Allen added, is estimated to cost the town approximately $73,000 annually.
"That's a pretty good estimate, we feel," Allen said.
He noted that Behan is looking at various funding options to pay for the project, including state county and federal funding and donation solicitation. The town also recently received a $250,000 state grant to develop a plan for the new 37-acre park, secured by state Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville.
Allen said that the completion of the plan comes after a concern from some residents that, while there was heavy momentum in the movement to get the park into the town's possession, there was a worry that the momentum would stop when the process reached the planning stages. That, Allen said, was not the case.
"We are very excited that we have wrapped this up in a year, and we're very much looking forward to seeing the next phase of this move forward," he said. "We'd like to see the town move forward as quickly as possible."
Barrett agreed, and said the park would serve as a multi-season asset to Clifton Park.
"This plan combines opportunities for active recreation, passive recreation, planning community events of all kinds. We have a lot of good ideas for what we can do within that property," he said. "There are some really exciting opportunities in the future.