Jennie Grey has written an article in today’s Saratogian updating the issue of Bonacio Construction’s encroachment onto Congress Park land when they built Park Place. (see below) Bonacio will remove the walkway built on park land and the City Council will ask the State Legislature to give the city permission to allow the National Grid transformer to remain. If permission is not granted, National Grid will have to move the transformer built to serve the Park Place building.
Former City Council wrongfully allowed developer to build on Congress Park land
Former City Council allowed Bonacio Construction to encroach on Congress Park land
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
SARATOGA SPRINGS >> When Bonacio Construction built Park Place in 2007, the condominiums at 268 Broadway offered residents beautiful views in town with six stories overlooking Congress Park. But recently, the city council has discovered that a former administration permitted an accidental illegal easement into the historic park during the condos’ construction.
Now, after Environmental Design Partnership performed a land survey, results found that the construction company had built on taxpayer-owned land behind the condos. The city council, the developer and National Grid are working to sort out the issues: A Park Place sidewalk and parking lot, and a National Grid utility transformer serving the building have been placed on park land.
“But the city doesn’t have the right to grant easements into Congress Park,” explained Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco. “Because the park is on the National Registry of Historic Places, it’s overseen by the state. Using it for anything other than park purposes requires approval from the state legislature.”
In 2015, the city engineer’s office found issues with potential land encroachments in back of Park Place while reviewing final as-built drawings for the project, said City Engineer Timothy Wales. The 215,000+-square-foot building consists of eight commercial units on the first and second floors, with 43 residential condos occupying the third through the sixth floors.
Bonacio Construction’s website for Park Place says, “Your backyard, so to speak, is a verdant 32-acre city park, your own open space.”
The developer then requested and was granted an easement from the city on an approximately 300-foot by 25-foot piece of city-owned land behind 268 Broadway, where it built a patio and walkways as part of Park Place, according to city officials.
City Attorney Vince DeLeonardis said the study found small parts of the Park Place development intruded on parts of city and state land. One such segment was the fenced-in picnic and barbecue area built on city property between the Palio and Holiday Inn buildings. The Park Place building itself does not encroach on public land, he said.
City officials and Bonacio staff have reviewed old maps, documents and deeds to determine the exact park boundary lines. Bonacio Construction has agreed to remove the nonconforming walkway.
Next, the city council must appeal to the state legislature to give the city permission to allow the remaining infrastructure to stay where it presently is. Alternatively, National Grid must move the transformer, a costly process for which that company expects to be reimbursed, Scirocco said.
“It’s an expensive mistake,” he said.