CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — A master plan for the design of the Town Center Park was presented to the Town Board on Monday by officials from two design firms hired to partner on the project.
The 94-page plastic bound booklet is filled with photos, drawings, charts, graphs, artist’s renderings, and lots of text. It takes readers from residents’ efforts to stop the sale of the parcel to a developer, through the numerous public workshops held to hear their ideas, the land’s existing conditions, its opportunities and restraints, phasing in of the design, and the costs involved.
Along the way, there are stops for ecological analysis, site analysis and findings, results of public surveys, design considerations, and planning outside the park. There is also an appendix.
The booklet, which was prepared by Behan Planning and Design in partnership with Elan Planning, Design, and Landscape Architecture, is available for viewing on the town website.
The 37-acre park site is between Moe Road on the west and Maxwell Drive on the east. To the south is Shatekon Elementary School and to the north is the Town Plaza retail and office center on Route 146. The land was purchased from the Shenendehowa School District in 2018 for $1.1 million.
In a 30 minute presentation on the Master Plan, Michael Allen of Behan Planning discussed the final design proposal and how the consultants arrived at it.
“Our goal from the beginning,” he said, “has been to understand the character of the land, find out what the people of Clifton Park want and use that information to act as a blueprint; a starting point moving forward that will strike a balance between preservation and creating a unique community attraction in the area.”
The main theme of the companies’ effort with the final plan was to connect Moe Road, which is on the west side of the land, to the Town Center. The consultants were confronted with how to do that on a parcel filled with differing species of trees of varying ages, a section of wetlands, and several existing informal trails.
The final design presented to the board shows a main trail taking visitors through the parcel in a west to east fashion with a large meadow or glade a third of the way into the parcel from Moe Road. An open-air gazebo is planned for the eastern edge of the glade.
As one walks farther east the main trail widens into what is called the promenade section where seating is proposed. As one gets closer to the eastern edge of the parcel, a smaller clearing is planned for exhibits. Upon approaching Maxwell Drive the trail crosses a small stream that runs diagonally through the site.
Secondary trails that are designed with more curves to them will take visitors west to east or vice versa on the southern side of the parcel. Unlike the main trail which is proposed as being paved, the secondary trails would be made with stone dust or wood chips.
Restrooms, shelters, seating, pavilions, and an outdoor classroom/amphitheater are also included in the plan. Parking for vehicles will initially be found off Moe Road.
“We wanted to keep the parkland natural in its truest sense,” Allen said. “We’re not going in to clean up the downed limbs and the leaves. We wanted that left natural. The only place we’d been cleaning up would be right along the travel paths.”
A total cost estimate to have the plan carried out was $3.7 million. Phase No. 1 is estimated to cost $2.5 million and Phase No. 2 is estimated to cost $1.1 million. Yearly operation costs, cleaning, special events, and utilities were estimated at $73,000 annually.
After seeing the presentation Friends of Clifton Park Open Space said it was satisfied with the plan and happy it preserves, as relatively unmodified, most of the 15-acres of the southeast portion of the site.
“We knew there would need to be a balance between more natural and more groomed spaces and we feel the Behan Group worked to achieve that,” said FCPOS vice president Susan Burton. “The process they followed allowed for a decent volume of public input across a variety of venues and they appeared to be most receptive to public comment.”
Town Supervisor Philip Barrett said the town’s Town Center Park Planning Committee unanimously favored moving forward with the park’s Master Plan and phasing.
Barrett added that from the first meeting on he wanted to incorporate Collins Park into the site. He noted that though the Moe Road trail is nearby, he would like to see access directly from the Town Center Park to Collins Park on the north. He described the access as a very important priority.
“We’re hoping to make this inviting where people will visit by bike or by walking,” he said. We want to make it inviting to people who work in the area, go to the area or visit the park. We want it more accessible.”
The town website is: https://www.cliftonpark.org/. To find access to the Master Plan look in the lower left-hand corner under Recent Town Documents.