Shen BOE reaches out to town in land issue

At its Tuesday night meeting, the Shenendehowa Board of Education discussed the options available to deal with the 32 acres of undeveloped land owned by the district.

KASSIE PARISI/GAZETTE REPORTERAt its Tuesday night meeting, the Shenendehowa Board of Education discussed the options available to deal with the 32 acres of undeveloped land owned by the district. KASSIE PARISI/GAZETTE REPORTER

By Kassie Parisi

Gazette Reporter

CLIFTON PARK — The Shenendehowa Central School District has sent a letter to the town of Clifton Park saying the school board is ready to talk about selling 32 acres of undeveloped land to the town.

At Tuesday night’s board meeting, district Superintendent Oliver Robinson discussed with board members all of the options available to them in deciding what to do with the land. The 32 acres was the topic of a recent referendum. The final vote of that referendum — 5,442 no to 2,323 yes — stopped the sale of the land to BBL construction, but it did not prohibit the school board from putting the parcel up for sale again.

The referendum came after months of contentious campaigning. Originally, the town offered to buy the land at price of $1 million. At the meeting, Robinson said that the land has an appraised value of $1.5 million.

In the past, Clifton Park Supervisor Phil Barrett has said that he is ready to talk with the school board at any time, but as of Tuesday night, the school board had not received an official proposal.

Robinson stressed that nothing discussed during Tuesday’s meeting represented any sort of concrete decision to go one way or the other.

“This is not a plan. This is just a discussion of options,” he said. He added that the letter to the town was meant to “get the ball rolling in a more formal way.”

Robinson said that any decision on the land depends on when, and if, the board receives an acceptable formal proposal from a buyer.

Board members were divided on how to proceed. Mary Blaauboer said that while the board originally thought that the land is unusable, it might be worth re-evaluating whether the district can in fact use the land. Board member Deanna Stephenson argued that an environmental review, which has not been done, would be the only accurate way to decide whether the land is truly usable.

Board member Gary DiLallo, who stressed the importance of getting a fair price for the land, cautioned against seeking an outside buyer and said that at this point it would only serve to “antagonize voters.” Board President Bob Pressly reiterated that if the town decides offer a proposal to buy the land, it needs to be a “motivated buyer.”

Ultimately, Robinson said, any course of action will require extensive conversations between the board and any potential buyer of the land, including the town.

“We have the music and the dance floor,” Robinson said. “The door is open.”