CLIFTON PARK -- The Town Board unanimously adopted an extensive master plan that focuses on the creation of a park in the municipality’s busy “downtown” area, concluding a multi-years long process of obtaining the land for the park and then laying out the plan itself.
The plan iwas designed by Saratoga Springs-based companies Behan Planning and Elan Design.
Clifton Park purchased the land that the park will be created on from the Shenendehowa Central School District for $1 million in 2018 after an extensive back and forth and two referendums.
During Monday night’s Town Board meeting, Town Supervisor Phil Barrett and the board members approved two resolutions relating to the plan: one concerning environmental evaluations conducted on the land and one that adopted the final plan.
“It’s been a long process to get to this point, a long and satisfying process,” Barrett said.
He added that residents who took part in the planning process via surveys or giving opinions at public meetings were an invaluable part of the process.
“Throughout, we were very fortunate to have a great deal of participation from many interested Clifton Park residents, and we want to thank you for that, because without that participation, the process is not going to be successful,” he said.
The overall plan for the park 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 in the last section.
A rough draft of the plan, released by the town in September after extensive public surveying, showed an emphasis 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.
Throughout the planning process, representatives from Behan and the town have tried to find a balance between preservation of the land and making an attractive gathering spot for residents.
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.
Another major theme of the final plan is to create a pedestrian connection, Allen said, from Moe Road to the town center.
Right now, 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. Upkeep, including plowing, is estimated to cost the town approximately $73,000 annually.
There are various funding options being explored 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.