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Thursday, 10 March 2016 11:31

Viewpoint: The Next Steps for Open Space

By Matthew E. Veitch

For Saratoga TODAY

 

It has been a great honor serving you. As I begin my fifth term as your Supervisor, I continue to be impressed that so many residents care enough about their City and its government, and want to be involved in the civic life of our great City.

In 2015, I served as the Chairman of the Saratoga County board of Supervisors, and it was a great honor, in what was a fantastic Centennial year for the City of Saratoga Springs.  Looking at issues and concerns at the County level gave me a unique perspective on the role our City plays in relation to its neighbors, both locally, and at the State and National level. Using that perspective, I will focus on some important local issues going forward – and none is more important to us all than open space. 

Last year, Saratoga County re-established the Open Space Grant program, as part of my initiatives as Chairman in 2015.  Additionally, I was appointed to the City’s Open Space Committee at the end of 2013.  This committee was dormant for many years, and was re-started in 2015. For the past year we have been developing a plan for the City’s Open Space Program. My colleagues on the committee have elected me the Chairman of this committee, and I believe we are ready to start moving forward in a more public way over the next two years.  I want to thank my fellow committee members for their confidence in me, and specifically to thank member Charlie Morrison for temporarily chairing our committee over the past year, and getting us focused on our priorities.

There are several issues to work on, including updating the City’s Open Space Plan, which was last updated in 2002. We have spent much of the past 14 years working on preserving various open space parcels in the City’s greenbelt, and have some great lands to show for it.  The committee will continue to identify those parcels in the outer district that will be strategic to our City’s goals.  Our Recreation department has enlisted our committee to assist in finding some new lands for recreation fields and other recreation uses, and we have been looking at the map of the City to see if there are any potential parcels available for this use.  

What we need to start focusing on, in my opinion, are smaller parcels within the inner district to preserve as well.  As part of our plan update, we will look to develop a policy for criteria of preserving lots within the inner district, or ‘pocket parks’ that can either provide passive recreation within a neighborhood, act as a buffer between different land uses.  The City currently has no program for doing this, and with continued building within the City’s core, we must evaluate where we may want to have some open lots to provide some respite from a more intensely developed area.  Additionally, the $5 million bond act voted on by our residents in 2002 is almost depleted, so our committee will work on finding new ways of funding open space purchases for the City’s future.   

I have always said important issues that come up aren’t Democrat or Republican issues; they are issues and problems that you elect us to work together to solve.  We live in the greatest City and County in the State of New York, and we should be proud of our successes.  So many communities wished they had some of the problems that we have.  I am so proud to be a native Saratoga Springs resident, and will act in a positive way to move our community forward, and continue our great success as a community, over the next two years in my term as your Supervisor.

 

Matthew Veitch is one of two Saratoga County Supervisors representing the City of Saratoga Springs.

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