CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — After holding multiple workshops and giving site walks of a proposed town park for the Town Center the consultants hired to design the plan will present their draft concepts at a public meeting next week.
The Town of Clifton Park’s Town Center Park Advisory Committee is sponsoring the presentation.
The meeting will begin with an open house from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18 in the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library, 475 Moe Road, Clifton Park. The two hour open house was designed specifically to bring people up to date on the plan’s design as well as give flexibility for people who want to attend the design presentation but have tight schedules due to work.
Staff from Behan Planning and Design will then make a PowerPoint presentation on their proposed concepts for the park from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The design presentation will be followed by a one hour period for discussion of the concepts.
Comments will also be taken in the days after the meeting online via a link on the Town of Clifton Park website.
The 37-acre former Shenendehowa School District parcel is a wooded area north of Shatekon Elementary School situated between Moe Road and Maxwell Road Extension. It was purchased from the school district by the town for $1.1 million in March 2018.
The purpose of the evening is to show the public where the consultants are with the park’s master plan design and get comments before the design is finalized. During the two-hour open house people can look at displays, ask questions of the consultants, and come and go as they wish.
“The (design) presentation will show the work we’ve done, some of the options we had, how we came to some of the decisions we did, and finally explain the draft plan layout we have at the moment,” Behan Senior Associate Michael Allen said. “Then we’ll have a discussion period for questions and comments. We’ll use that feedback to refine the plan before it’s finalized to present to the Town Board.”
Allen said the design plan remains conceptual, has not been finalized, and that the company wants input before going too far along.
“We understand there are certainly people who feel strongly about this parcel from many different perspectives,” he said. “Some people would like to keep it natural, would like to see a lot of activities there, so finding the right balance is important.”
He added that if they receive a lot of input from the public asking that the design go in a slightly different direction and the town, along with the Advisory Committee, tells the consultants that’s where the majority of the people feel they should be going, then the consultants will alter the design a bit.
From the start the Advisory Committee, Allen said, was open to letting them hold the workshops and charettes while later reviewing the consultants’ take on the comments and the subsequent direction in which they chose to go based on those comments.
Those public comments showed the consultants there was a strong sense that any park design should keep the land natural. What surprised them Allen said, was an abundance of comments from the workshops and online that on-site parking be part of the plan.
Clifton Park Open Space Coordinator Jennifer Viggiani expanding on Allen’s description of the planned public meeting.
“They’ll tie in the natural values, environmental values with the public values, all those public comments we received, then they’ll bring it all together and show some of the ideas they’ve been putting to paper,” Viggiani said. “They’ll show the evolution of their design, some conceptual sketches that they’re working on to get a coalesced draft of a plan for the site.”
Viggiani viewed the evening as a chance for the Town Board and the Advisory Committee, along with the consultants, to check in with the public and ask how they were doing with the plan for the park.
“They’re asking whether we’ve captured the idea, the character, the feeling of the site that we heard from the public. Do we understand its natural strengths? Are we on the right track,” she said. “We’re looking for feedback. Hopefully we’re getting close.”
Viggiani fully understands that designing a park that balances nature, inserts a trail system, and retains a large amount of trees all while finding ways for some complimentary uses is a difficult task. Add to that a strong request that there be parking on-site and the task becomes harder.
“There’s a question of how we accommodate some parking, make it strategic so people can access the site while keeping it natural,” she said. “As is the case with any public plan it’s a challenging balancing act of coming up with something that honors the wishes of the most people and is also something the community can afford to invest in and take good care of for the long run.
"Hopefully it’ll be a special place, a unique property and we can implement something that reflects that so we can enjoy it and take great care of it for a long time to come.”