At its January 10th meeting, the Board of Education discussed steps to verify petitions requiring the district to hold a permissive referendum asking residents to vote on the actions of the board to sell 34.334 acres of vacant, district-owned land to BBL for $2 million with the donation of 17.5-19 acres of the land to the town of Clifton Park. The timeline for a potential permissive referendum was also discussed.
Under NYS Education Law §1804 regarding permissive referendums on the sale of land, there must be 10% of qualified voters signing the petition, they must be original signatures (no on-line signatures allowed) and all petitions (submitted and notarized as being true and accurate) must be submitted 30 calendar days after the BOE took action.
School district staff members have begun the process of verifying signatures for residency (address) and eligibility to vote using multiple sources including tax roll data, county voter registration and Student Information System data, as well as ensuring that there are no duplicate signatures.
At the same time, district staff members are beginning the process required for a referendum including:
- Requesting voting machines
- Creating/printing ballots
- Securing a voting machine custodian
- Securing election inspectors
- Creating/printing absentee ballots
- Creating/printing/mailing disabled voter absentee ballots
The potential timeline for the permissive referendum (contingent on the verification process being complete) is as follows:
- The Board of Education is legally required to take action to hold the referendum. The plan is to do so at its regularly scheduled meeting on 1/24/17.
- The district is lawfully required to post a legal notice 45 days in advance of the vote after the Board takes action.
- This puts a possible referendum date for mid-March or early April.
What was the process for selling the land?
The Board of Education issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) in August to sell the land and received four proposals:
- BBL – $2,050,001;
- DCG – $1,529,000;
- United Group – $1,125,00; and,
- Town of Clifton Park – $1,000,000.
The Board of Education voted to award the RFP to BBL based on two factors:
- A $2 million sale price. The minimum appraised sales price by the district was $1.5 million. The BBL proposal is $500,000 above the minimum bid amount.
- Donation of approximately half of the land (17.5-19 acres) to the town of Clifton Park.
Why did the district decide to sell the property?
The district has already constructed two schools on the original parcel. Arongen was built in 1992. In 2004, the district proposed building Shatekon on this land because it owned the property and state aid reimbursement to the district was maximized (saving taxpayers money)by attaching it to an existing school (Arongen). After completing Shatekon, the surplus property was deemed to be too expensive to construct a third facility.
When did the district decide to sell the property?
Ten years ago, the district’s Futures Committee recognized Halfmoon as the fastest growing town within the district. Based on this, it recommended selling this property and using the proceeds to purchase land in Halfmoon to possibly build the next school based on growth patterns.
Was this the first RFP to sell the property?
The district had two separate RFP processes which were advertised in the newspapers, the website and social media. In 2015, the board issued the first RFP and accepted a proposal from DCG for $1.7 million for the 34 acres. However, after the Board unanimously approved the proposal, DCG rescinded their offer. The second RFP was issued in August 2016. Four proposals were submitted and the Board accepted the proposal submitted by BBL on December 6.
Is there a designated buffer between the property slated to be sold and the Shatekon playground?
As illustrated on the map (http://www.shenet.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/RFP-Land-Sale-Map.pdf), there is a designated, wooded buffer between the Shatekon field and the property to be sold.
Clarification of information being circulated:
- “A grocery store is being built on that land.” BBL has not released any information to the district about its intended use.
- “The land being donated to Clifton Park is undevelopable.” When the town of Clifton Park began the process to rezone the property to what is now TC3-Commercial, the district had two independent appraisals conducted (2013) to render an opinion of market value in connection with future negotiations of marketing the property to potential buyers. Both appraisers concluded the site is functional for development. Click here for the two (2) Appraisal Reports.
- “This vote will create a Central Park for Clifton Park.” The permissive referendum does not create a park it is only to overturn the actions of the board to sell the property to BBL. If the land is not sold, it remains the school district’s land.