Colonie recently had a debate about the issue of developing green space. This occurred during a 2019 update to the comprehensive plan. Public hearings were held by the Colonie Town Board during 2019. During these hearings a number of speakers offered input concerning the need to maintain green space in Colonie. Many of the speakers outlined the weak effort of the current Town of Colonie administration to protect green space.
An organization called Save Colonie offered many ideas to protect Colonie’s green space. Its speakers offered a number of good suggestions on the subject. The basic issue is whether green space should be developed as commercial or residential property or should it be maintained in the form of a park or undeveloped land.
One of the items missing from the debate was a nice discussion concerning past successful efforts to maintain green space in Colonie. The current Colonie administration which has been in power for 12 years has accomplished little in developing green space. There is a nice history, however, of protecting green space from economic development in Colonie during the period 1995 to 2007. Three examples are discussed below.
During the 1990s there was an effort to build an office building complex on the present site of the Crossing Park in Colonie. This is a 130-acre park in Colonie which provides a beautiful park-like setting for Colonie. During the 1990s a plan was developed to build office buildings on the site. A previous Town of Colonie government rejected the plan during 1995. Instead, they decided to build the Crossings Park with a cost of about $8.5 million. The park was completed in 2003 and is a jewel in the Capital District today. This is a success story in preserving green space from commercial development.
A second success story relates to a small park in Loudonville called Loudonville Green which is located on the corner of Route 9 and the Menands Road. That property was about one-acre in size and there was a proposal in the early 2000s to build a small commercial strip mall on it. The Greater Loudonville Association which has about 200 members urged the Town of Colonie to reject the proposal. They urged the Town of Colonie to purchase the property for development as a historic park. That was accomplished and today we have a beautiful gateway park in Colonie that is enjoyed by many. The gazebo, clock, and other facilities on the site were contributed by private funds donated by businesses and members of the Greater Loudonville Association. This facility adds to the quality of life in Colonie.
A third success story is the Rudy Ciccotti Center which provided great recreational facilities in the aquatic park and physical fitness facilities. This entity is located off Aviation Road adjacent to the Crossings Park and was completed in 2006. The facility was constructed by a partnership of public and private entities and is another example of the innovative use of green space to improve the quality of life in Colonie.
During the 1995-2007 period the Town of Colonie did much to enhance green space in Colonie. In addition to the facilities discussed, other large green facilities such as the Lisha Kill Sports Complex on Consaul Road, and the Boght Road North Colonie Sports Complex were completed. Also, a new nine-hole addition to the Colonie Golf Course was also installed and a large Schuyler Flatts Cultural Park in the Menands section of Colonie was completed. The previous Colonie administration has a real vision and plan to develop green space in Colonie.
The current Colonie town government has completed only a small amount of green space development over the past 12 years. This is a weak effort and the green space policy needs to be reformed. The recently completed Colonie comprehensive plan provides a vision statement out to the year 2030.
Hopefully the Town of Colonie government officials will change their viewpoint and provide a careful and serious effort to save green space in Colonie.
Kevin M Bronner, Ph.D, is a former member of the Colonie Town Board and was involved in a number of community organizations including those mentioned above.