In a stunning victory for a community group trying to protect public land, the citizens of Clifton Park defeated a proposed land sale 5,542 to 2,323 in a turn out characterized by the Times Union as “heavy”. The group calling itself Friends of Clifton Park Open Space defeated BBL Construction Services which the Albany Business Journal described as “one of the largest construction/development firms in the region.”
BBL had offered to buy 34 undeveloped acres owned by the Shenendehowa Central School District for $2.05 million. They planned to build a Shoprite and had included the promise that they would set aside some land for a public park.
The controversy was quite spirited. A paid advertisement appeared in the Gazette newspaper from a group identified as “Vote Yes For A Park LLC.” The add supported the sale to BBL.
In a terrific story in the Gazette reporter Kassie Parisi raised serious doubts regarding a number of statements made in the ad such as the claim about the taxes the project would generate. In fact she characterized as a falsehood the claim by this group about the park the community would get.
She also reported on robocalls that voters in Clifton Park were subject to that were really “push polls.” According to Parisi, “An internet search suggests the call came from a landline operated by Global Crossing, a telecommunications company headquartered in Bermuda, and that it originated in Jonesville. It was unclear who commissioned the calls.”
I think there is a cautionary tale here for the next election in Saratoga Springs. People in this area put a high value on quality of life issues like parks and open space and will mobilize around these issues.