MALTA: Town OKs preserve plans

The Malta Town Board approved a resolution Monday night, May 7, that forms a partnership with Saratoga P.L.A.N. to create a 125-acre nature preserve along Round Lake off Route 67. The resolution calls for the town to contribute $140,000 to the purchase price of 92 inland acres but also to pay an additional $200,000 to purchase a 31.31 acre lot that offers frontage on Round Lake. While P.L.A.N. will own one parcel and the town the other, the two properties will together be known as the Round Lake Preserve and function as a single nature and recreation preserve.

We are here to celebrate an extraordinary partnership, said Julie Stokes, chairwoman of the Saratoga P.L.A.N. board of directors at the Monday, May 7, meeting. She noted that the Sweeney family approached P.L.A.N. at the suggestion of Audrey Ball, the director of parks, recreation, and buildings for the town. Stokes thanked the town of Malta for its leadership in the areas of trail development and land preservation.

"Malta has stepped forward over the last decade and a half," she said.

Stokes cited the town's decision to pave its section of the Zim Smith Trail as evidence of its dedication and suggested that Malta is an example for other local municipalities.

Stokes called the Round Lake Preserve properties "remarkable" and said they will eventually include a trail system as well as passive recreation. An access road from Route 67 will likely be constructed. The waterfront access to Round Lake will allow kayakers, canoers, and windsurfers to utilize Round Lake regularly. In addition to the Round Lake frontage, the property also has frontage on the Anthony Kill.

"This is an opportunity to protect farm land and natural resources," she said. The property has been identified in a number of local and state documents citing the importance on the area. The town has identified the property in a number plans and reports over the years. On the state level, the property has been identified as a host to the swamp smartweed, a plant identified as one of the most endangered in the state. The state's Open Space Plan references the area and the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation's Phase 1 study of the property found archaeological artifacts.

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