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Stony Creek Reservoir

CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — Support for Clifton Park’s effort to purchase the Stony Creek Reservoir from the Town of Colonie is growing among residents and its own advisory bodies.

Since the announcement in February by Clifton Park Supervisor Philip Barrett that a Request for Proposal had been put out on the reservoir, the Clifton Park community has begun to rally around the effort to make the neighboring community a solid offer.

Though the large body of water is found in Clifton Park, the actual owner is the Town of Colonie. The reservoir was sold to Colonie in 1940.

Initially purchased as a drinking water source, its use was discontinued years ago. The reservoir and the land that comes with it total nearly 1,000 acres. It is the fourth largest body of water in Saratoga County.

This is the second time the town is making a bid to buy the reservoir and its surrounding land. A bid was made in 2009 with the assistance of the Open Space Institute but officials with the Town of Colonie deemed the bid insufficient. The Open Space Institute is helping Clifton Park once again.

The effort to make a bid and return ownership to Clifton Park has gathered support from the town’s Environmental Conservation Committee, the Open Space, Trails, and Riverfront Committee, GREEN Committee, and the independent group, the Friends of Clifton Park Open Space.

To expand support to the general population, the Friends group created a petition on the website Change.org. As of Monday, it had 953 signers. The group has also produced a leaflet to distribute that details the reservoir’s history, what the sale will include, and reasons why it should be preserved for the public.

“Because the Stony Creek Reservoir is centrally located in town and has been literally untouched by development for 70 years, it is a unique regional ecological resource ideally suited for public preservation by the Town of Clifton Park,” the Friends group said in a statement. “Its acquisition will preserve nearly 1,000 acres of pristine woodlands and watershed in southern Saratoga County and help maintain and enhance the quality of life, the environment, sustainability, and economic competitiveness of the town and the surrounding areas.

"Therefore, we support a process for the Town of Clifton Park to work with the Open Space Institute towards the acquisition of the Reservoir from the Town of Colonie.”

The minutes from the Environmental Conservation Committee’s March 4 meeting show that it’s supporting the purchase also.

In recent days the town’s GREEN Committee has lent its support for the purchase with a post on its Facebook page noting how the acquisition would help maintain and enhance the quality of life, the environment, sustainability, and economic competitiveness of the town and the surrounding areas.

“It is a unique regional ecological source ideally suited for public preservation by the Town of Clifton Park,” the posting states.

The town’s Open Space, Trails, and Riverfront Committee gave its formal support for the purchase in a resolution at the Feb. 10 meeting. The resolution says it supports the Town Board exploring all feasible options to permanently protect all of the property encompassing the Stony Creek Reservoir owned by the Latham Water District and the Town of Colonie.

“We encourage the town to work with the conservation partners such as the Open Space Institute to achieve the goal of conservations of this nearly 1,000-acre resource in the heart of the southeastern portion of Clifton Park,” the resolution states. “The Reservoir property meets a highly significant number of resource and project criteria for the town’s open space program with the potential to provide a tremendous public benefit to the community.”

The committee added that the reservoir has been identified as a priority for permanent conservation in the town’s Open Space Plan, the Saratoga County Green Infrastructure Plan, and the state’s Open Space Plan for NYS DEC Region 5.

The Committee minutes note also that the property meets major resource criteria for the town’s Open Space Program deeming it worthy of consideration for permanent protection because it has the potential for public waterfront access, and the potential to contribute to town-wide trails and pathway connections.

The Town of Colonie’s Request for Proposal states that the minimum price set at $5.1 million, the reservoir is to be sold with a single contract, that the town will not consider selling single parcels, the town reserves the right to reject any and all proposals, and that the Colonie Town Board will make final approval and offer acceptance of the proposal.

The RFP states that the effort undertaken by the town in putting out the request for bids is being done “to improve its fiscal situation through the sale of expendable assets”.

Additionally, the RFP states that all proposals must include a business management plan and that the Advisory Committee will focus on price and proposed use in its evaluation. If there are two or more proposals with comparable terms as determined by the Advisory Committee the town will notify the parties and a lottery will be held of only those similar proposals.

As part of the sale, the Town of Colonie will apply to the state to have regulations rescinded that ban activities like sailing, canoeing, kayaking, row boating, fishing, and swimming in the reservoir. A 1953 law forbids swimming or bathing in the reservoir. However, officials in Colonie have commenced discussions with the DOH to rescind the regulation.

The RFP states that DOH has indicated it will join in signing the contract of sale to allow the proposed unrestricted use of the reservoir to facilitate the sale of the property.

In his remarks announcing the bid effort in February, Clifton Park Supervisor Barrett said he foresees the water body being used for passive recreation like kayaking or canoeing but not swimming.

Bids on the reservoir are due June 4.

The Friends of Open Space petition can be seen at:

https://www.change.org/p/town-of-clifton-park-town-board-stony-creek-reservoir-for-sale

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