Some school board members disappointed at land sale price

The land near the Shen campus is vacant and wooded.

PHOTO PROVIDEDThe land near the Shen campus is vacant and wooded. PHOTO PROVIDED

By Kassie Parisi

Gazette Reporter

CLIFTON PARK — While the Shenendehowa Board of Education as a whole has described the pending $1.1 million deal with the town for a parcel of district-owned land as a win, individual members have expressed disappointment with the selling price.

The board met Tuesday night for the first time as a body since the impending deal over the 34-acre parcel was announced last week.

Board President Bill Casey said that buying and selling property can be “complicated,” and explained that, from the board’s standpoint, selling the property “as is” was always an important factor. “As is,” said Casey, meant that an environmental review or title review of the land that the town wanted to pursue had to be completed before signing the sale contract.

The parcel was the subject of an April referendum, in which town residents overwhelmingly rejected the district’s proposal to sell the land to BBL Construction for about $2 million.

The land, which is undeveloped, is located off Maxwell Road in Clifton Park, adjacent to Shatekon and Arongen elementary schools. It is heavily wooded.

School board member Bob Pressly acknowledged that they had quick success in reaching an agreement with the town, which he believes was what the public wanted. But, he said the speed at which the two entities worked through the issue led to a low selling price that he still had concerns about.

Pressly said that the school board made clear to the Town Board during negotiations that $1.1 million was the absolute lowest they were willing to accept.

“I’m not saying this wasn’t done properly. I think it was done very quickly, and I think that’s why I have reservations,” he said.

Board Vice President Todd Gilbert echoed Pressly’s concern, but added that the April referendum proved that the price was not at the main issue for most of the voters.

“I don’t disagree with you financially,” Gilbert replied. “I personally would have loved a lot more money for this. My thing is, we tried that, and the people were very clear about the money. The vote was that they were less concerned about the financial aspect as they were the use of the land.”

If the sale is approved by voters, the land would only be used for public purposes, such as a park. New York State Education Law 405 stipulates that once the town owns the land, it s prohibited from ever selling it for a non-public use.

The district has owned the land for more than four decades, and according to Casey, there have been no changes to the parcel, nor have there been any buildings placed on it.

The board is expecting to approve the sale at its Oct. 10 meeting. The Town Board expects to approve the sale contract at its board meeting on Oct. 2.

The deal will then be put to a referendum for public approval on Dec. 5.