Ferrisburgh school offered two acres, board passes offer to selectmen

FERRISBURGH — The Ferrisburgh Central School board on Thursday left open the door to buying a 2-acre parcel next to the school, but decided first to approach the selectboard on this Tuesday to see if the town is interested in the land, which school board members said could be used as parking for the nearby town office building and community center.
However, on Friday morning selectboard chairwoman Loretta Lawrence said the town already has a plan in place to expand the limited onsite parking for its Route 7 building.
Lawrence said selectmen purchased the home next to and south of the town office building with an eye toward expanding parking onto that lot.
“That was why we bought the property next to the town office property,” Lawrence said. “We bought that on the proposal that it would turn into parking eventually.”
The land in question was recently offered for $40,000 to both the town and Ferrisburgh Central School (FCS) by Charlotte resident Clark Hinsdale. It lies to the north of the school and to the west of the town office building and abuts both properties.
The FCS board on Thursday delegated member Bill Clark to discuss the land with the selectboard at its Tuesday meeting. Residents at Thursday’s FCS meeting also said they would urge selectboard members to consider the land.
Lawrence, an administrative assistant at the school, said the selectboard has not “taken a formal position” on the land, but was unlikely to move forward.
But Lawrence, like FCS board members and the handful of residents at the Thursday meeting, said she could foresee pluses for FCS in buying the land even if she didn’t believe voters would support another land purchase for town office parking.
“I certainly think there would be some benefit to the school … but I don’t think selling it as a benefit to the town for more parking would fly,” Lawrence said. “I do think the school could use the land for a ball field or room for a solar array. It would make sense for them to purchase it.”
Suggestions on Thursday for the land included using it for playing fields, a move that could allow fields south of the school to be used to help solve the school’s parking and traffic flow problems, or preserving it for unforeseen future expansion needs.
“I would love to see more open space for future use,” said resident Deb Rooney.
Officials ruled out using the land to create a traffic loop to connect the school with Route 7, one possible alternative they had considered.
“From a technical perspective I don’t think it makes a lot of sense,” said resident and civil engineer Carl Crawford.
Several at the meeting noted the planned Agency of Transportation traffic light at the nearby intersection of Little Chicago Road and Route 7 would be helping FCS traffic problems and meant the loop plan was no longer needed or desirable.
Board members could see some advantages to FCS owning the land, not the town.
“If we’re leading the charge on this, we have more control,” Clark said.
Chairman David Tatlock summed up, without disagreement, where the board stood on the parcel.
“What I’m hearing is the board may be prepared to buy the land if the town is not interested,” Tatlock said.
But both he and Lawrence pointed out that any purchase would require voter approval.
“Ultimately, it’s up to the people to decide,” Tatlock said. “My hope is we can reach a consensus with the town what to do.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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