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Great Flats Preserve to expand

County approves razing blighted homes, parkland designation planned

The size of the Great Flats Nature Preserve in Rotterdam will expand slightly once two homes are demolished and the plot is designated as parkland. County officials said the move has the added benefit of protecting the area’s aquifer.

The size of the Great Flats Nature Preserve in Rotterdam will expand slightly once two homes are demolished and the plot is designated as parkland. County officials said the move has the added benefit of protecting the area’s aquifer.

— The Great Flats Nature Preserve will expand slightly after the county razes two long vacant and blighted homes.

The Schenectady County Legislature on Tuesday, April 10, approved demolishing homes at 146 West Campbell Road bordering I-890, which the county owns through tax foreclosure. The property is located within the aquifer primary recharge zone and it is estimated to cost $70,000 for asbestos remediation and demolition.

The Legislature also approved holding a public hearing on Monday, April 30, at 7 p.m., to designate the area as parkland and convey the land to the Town of Rotterdam.

County Legislator Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, said ensuring the property doesn’t contaminate the aquifer is essential. Designating the area as parkland after clean up would protect the area from future development.

“It just makes sense to clean this up,” Santabarbara said. “Water is always important in all communities and this property has been an eyesore for awhile and it obviously needs to be cleaned up, and this is a great opportunity to do that.”

The county will use $35,000 it received from SI Group as part of a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation consent order signed in 2006. The county will pay the remaining $35,000.

“There is always an opportunity that comes up to take care of these properties and clean them up and that is when you have to take action,” Santabarbara said. “There is a set of circumstances here where we can do this and we can do it fairly easily.”

County officials are only allowed to use the SI Group funds for certain projects with an environmental benefit. DEC officials approved using the funds to help demolish the house and expand the parkland to help protect the aquifer.

The site would add 0.58 acres to the 67-acre Great Flats preserve, which also has a nature trail with a main circular trail stretching 3 miles. Several small side paths extend the trail to about 4 miles total.

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