By Cady Kuzmich
Clifton Park — Shenendehowa Central School District announced Tuesday evening it will hold a public referendum on the fate of 32 undeveloped acres behind Shatekon Elementary School April 4.
Community members who advocated for the school to reach an agreement with the town of Clifton Park to keep the 32 acres in the public domain as parkland called for a public referendum after the board voted 4-3 to sell the land to Albany based developer BBL development December 6.
BBL offered the district $2,050,001 and agreed to donate between 17.5 to 19 acres of the land to the town of Clifton Park to be used as a park, while the remaining 17.5 to 19 acres will be developed as retail or office space.
The town’s bid was just $1 million and would have been paid over the course of a year.
Gary DiLallo, Robert Pressly, Todd Gilbert and Mary Blaauboer voted in favor of the BBL proposal. Deanna Stephenson, William Casey and Christina Rajotte voted against the decision to accept the BBL bid.
The total number of signatures collected by the Friends of Clifton Park Open Space in just a month adds up to more than 21⁄2 times the number of ballots cast in the last budget vote. Based on information from the district, the group only had to collect between 5,100 and 5,500 signatures.
“We were able to verify 5,588 signatures with a high degree of confidence,” said the district’s public information officer, Kelly DeFeciani.
The referendum will give community members a chance to voice whether or not they agree with the district’s decision to sell the wooded land to BBL Development. Voting against the decision to sell to BBL will not however guarantee the land will be sold to the town or transformed into a park.
“If the majority vote no, then the land remains the district’s land,” according to DeFeciani.
DeFeciani said the April 4 date was chosen “based on the combination of both the legal stipulations of the required notice time period [minimum 45 days] as well as the many practical steps [and] components of executing a referendum.”
The referendum will be held between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. April 4th in Shenendehowa’s Gowana gymnasium.