Earlier this year, 7,765 residents of the Shenendehowa school district participated in a special election to decide the fate of 32 acres of undeveloped land off Route 146.
The controversy basically boiled down to residents who wanted the district to sell the land to a private developer and those who wanted it set aside for use as a public park.
An overwhelming 5,442 voters — 70 percent — voted against the land sale that day.
With so much interest in the property, and with both the school district and the town of Clifton Park serving many of the same taxpayers, the two sides should open up the final stages of negotiations to the public to observe.
Normally, negotiations involving a government body are not something either officials or taxpayers would want to be open. No sense revealing negotiating tactics or positions to the other side when you don’t have to.
By negotiating in private, the town and the district are doing nothing improper or illegal. The state Open Meetings Law specifically allows private negotiations. We get that.
But there’s nothing in the Open Meetings Law that states that such talks must be done in secret. That’s up to the two parties involved.
With final negotiations open to the public, the board members in both the district and the town would get a better understanding for how their constituents feel about each side’s positions.
Maybe school district residents will think the district is giving too much away and not asking for enough compensation for the land. Maybe town residents will think their government’s offer is too low or too high for the land. Or maybe both…
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