CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — After a gap of nearly a dozen years the town is considering making another bid to purchase the Stony Creek Reservoir from the Town of Colonie.
The 365-acre reservoir is a little-known body of water in the southern section of the Clifton Park community between Englemore Road on the north and Crescent Road on the south. The reservoir and the land that comes with it totals 965 acres.
Though located in Clifton Park, it has been owned by the Town of Colonie since it was purchased in the early 1940s for a source of potable water for the then-growing suburban community. Once Colonie found another source of water the reservoir became obsolete.
It is not being used currently and no activity on the water or along the shoreline is allowed. The reservoir is 10 feet to 12 feet deep in most areas but does have some areas that are 35 feet deep.
Recently, notice was given to Clifton Park town administrators that a Request for Proposals (RFP) to sell the reservoir and its land was about to be advertised. Originally the closing date for bids was in early March but the date has been extended to June 4.
At the Feb. 8 Clifton Park Town Board meeting Councilwoman Lynda Walowit asked Supervisor Philip Barrett if the town was as interested in acquiring the reservoir now as it had been in 2009 when it made an offer of $3.38 million.
“Personally I’m still interested in pursuing it,” Barrett said. “We’re interested. Are you (Town of Colonie) interested? Yes? Let’s talk about it more. That’s where it’s at.”
Walowit and Barrett are the only members of the Clifton Park Town Board who were on the board when the initial offer was made.
In 2009 the Clifton Park Town Board reached out to the town of Colonie administration to see if it would be willing to sell the reservoir and its land. Working with the advocacy arm of the Open Space Institute, the Town of Clifton Park had an assessment done which placed the value on the property at $3 million.
The Town of Colonie said the reservoir’ value was $7 million to $8 million and deemed the bid too low. Shortly thereafter they put out an RFP with a minimum bid of $8.7 million. The Town of Clifton Park made its offer a second time via the RFP and was the sole bidder. Again the bid was deemed too low and the reservoir remained in the hands of the Town of Colonie.
Several months later word spread that a well-known builder was interested in buying the reservoir its land as a home building site. However, nothing ever came of the supposed development.
In 2009 the president of the Open Space Institute was Joe Martens. At the time the assessment was done, Martens said the Institute had concluded the reservoir could only be used for recreation or conservation.
"It has terrible access and stringent regulations,” Martens was quoted as saying. “According to our appraiser the access does not meet current Clifton Park zoning regulations and because of that it can't be developed. It's not a surprise that no developer bid on it."
At last week’s Clifton Park Town Board meeting Barrett said it was good to hear the date for submissions for the RFP had been pushed back allowing the town more time to consider all options but nothing had really changed with the property.
“Has the price risen to $7 to $9 million? I doubt it”, he said. “Are they using the property? Are they using the water? The offer 12 years ago, which was low to them, was very significant.”
Barrett told board members the Open Space Institute has again committed to helping the town with its bid and is very eager to pursue the purchase.
One of the items holding back the sale of the reservoir may be the fact that it is subject to state health laws from the 1940s. As part of the RFP the Town of Colonie states it will “apply to the State of New York to have the regulations rescinded to allow for unrestricted use of the reservoir such as sailing, canoeing, kayaking, row boating, fishing and swimming.”
The RFP contract states that the minimum acceptable price for the reservoir has been set at $5.1 million. The Town of Colonie will not consider selling the property in smaller parcels or other configurations.
An advisory committee from the Town of Colonie will review all proposals. The committee will look at price and the proposed uses. The advisory committee consists of the Supervisor of the Town of Colonie, the town attorney, and the town clerk.
The current Supervisor of the Town of Colonie is Paula Mahan. The 12 year incumbent announced last month she will not seek reelection. Her term expires Dec. 31.