BALLSTON SPA – The Village Board of Trustees agreed Monday to enter negotiations with the Friends of the Kayaderosseras to allow the volunteer organization to build a permanent office and meeting space on village property.
According to Village Mayor John Romano, the Friends of the Kayaderosseras have never had a facility, with the organization president or other members of the group hosting meetings in their own homes, having to transport records to each location.
The Friends began storing their records in a downstairs office in the Village Hall following an offer from Romano. However, discussions between the Friends and the village to potentially allow the organization to build a permanent facility on village owned property began around a year ago.
“We had discussed back and forth the potential for the Friends to construct a building on village property on the very back end of the parking lot by the swimming pool that would overlook the Kayadeross,” Romano said.
Preliminary discussions between the town and the organization call for a single-story structure of approximately 30 by 40 feet to be built at the rear of the Ballston Spa Village Pool parking lot at the cost of the Friends of the Kayadeross. The building would include an office, secure storage space, a restroom, a meeting room and a deck overlooking the creek.
Friends of the Kayadeross President Richard Bashant said, “It’s a well populated area, we look at this as a place where we have a map, some information on activities happening that month and outreach about things people can do to help conserve the creek.”
“As well as it just being logistically important for us to have a meeting place and a place to store our things, we really see it a great way to be more visible in the community and to reach out to the community,” Bashant said.
The Friends of the Kayadeross is a volunteer, not-for-profit organization seeking to conserve the creek and the Saratoga County watershed while promoting education and recreation. The group was founded in 2004 and hosts a number of community activities throughout the year including hiking, paddling, a children’s stream study course, a trout release in the spring and cleanup efforts.
“The heart and soul of what we do is, twice a year we have our cleanups and that’s when people come out, rain or shine, and we really clean up the creek. We’re taking tires out, we’re taking trash out and it’s not just here in Kelley Park, it’s up stream, because that will eventually be downstream,” Bashant said.
“This group I think, in my personal opinion, is an incredibly great volunteer organization and the Kayadeross is I think probably our most valuable resource in Saratoga County. It’s been a source of pleasure and enjoyment for residents of not only Ballston Spa, but Saratoga County and surrounding municipalities,” Romano said.
To formally begin the process, Romano suggested that the board pass a resolution during Monday’s meeting to enter negotiations with the Friends of the Kayadeross to arrange an agreement allowing the group to build on village property at their own expense.
Once complete, the building would become village property that the village would then lease to the Friends for a period of 99 years for a fee of $1 per year with automatic renewal options.
“There are a lot of details that need to be worked out, but for tonight’s meeting I will look to the board for input and then I will ask the board if we are all in agreement to move forward with the first step, which would be to agree in principal to work with the Friends and let them construct a building on village property that they would be responsible for maintaining, responsible to the utility bills, the insurance and everything associated with it,” Romano said.
The board members voiced their support for the project. Village Trustee Robert Cavanaugh pointed out that the proposed location would offer improved access to the creek and would make the trail easier for residents to find and maintain.
Village Trustee Noah Shaw noted his appreciation for the creek and the work that the Friends perform, agreeing that negotiations on the proposed building should move forward. However, Shaw questioned including leasing terms in the initial resolution, wondering if there were other options that would prove more favorable to the Friends.
“I guess I just wondered whether the resolution should be broader to leave options open for whatever [legal] advice the Friends get to make sure that they’re not ending up stuck with a particular arrangement that might not work. Maybe the resolution just enters negotiations to get the thing built as opposed to a particular arrangement,” Shaw said.
Village Attorney James Fauci noted that some, but not all possible options had been explored and that there was no drawback to making the resolution broader.
Romano explained his initial reasoning saying, “One of the things with respect to the actual structure itself is if it is a village structure there are no building fees associated with it, that’s a plus. If it is a village structure, the village would have to look at the potential of connecting water and sewer to it. There’s lots of advantages for doing it this way.”
Romano agreed to loosen up the resolution, saying, “Let’s move forward with the understanding that we will make it as broad and workable as we possibly can, so that we can ensure that this thing begins tonight.”
Village Trustees Stuart Hodsoll, Cavanaugh, Shaw and Mayor Romano voted in favor of the resolution, Trustee Shawn Raymond was absent Monday.
When asked about the potential cost of the building and funding options, Romano said that the Friends of the Kayaderosseras needed the Village Board of Trustees to pass the resolution to enter negotiations before they could begin exploring their options and seeking estimates, noting that fundraising efforts by the organization would likely play a part in completion of the project.