Parks and Parking Lots

Here are a few extracts from a lengthy handbook from NY State on how to transfer municipal parkland such as is the case at the former museum and may I add, at Bacon School. The bottom line is that the Council cannot just ‘give’ the land to school district or a buyer,  as there is a well defined, complex, lengthy process as you can see from the full document (here).  I should not be surprised, given my experience with the Bacon closing, that the GASD simply refuses to acknowledge the complexity and legality under which their properties fall, believing instead, as in this case, the Council can simply transfer the property and the deal is done.  I will point out that the level of due diligence by the GASD board and administration on these matters is appalling and in the end, what do we get — more vacant and blighted properties.

And who gets the blame? Certainly not the GASD; why it’s the residents impacted by the decisions who should be blamed: why do you care what happens to your property as long as they pay taxes.  You now know who looks out for home owners and home values– absolutely no one.
Here are a few highlights:

What is parkland alienation?
Parkland ?alienation? occurs when a municipality wishes to sell, lease, or discontinue municipal parkland. Parkland alienation applies to every municipal park in the State whether owned by a county, town, or village. In order to convey parkland to another nonpublic entity, or to use them for another purpose, the municipality must receive authorization from the New York State Legislature. The bill by which the Legislature grants its authorization is commonly referred to as a ?parkland alienation? bill.

The requirements for parkland alienation bills vary depending upon whether or not State dollars have been invested in the municipal park that is being considered for a potential
change of use. Therefore, it is crucial that a municipality identify whether or not State funding has been invested as early in the process as possible.

In most instances, the requirement that a municipality obtain legislative authorization in order to alienate parkland is not found in a statute, which is a law passed by the legislature. Rather, the basic principle for parkland alienation is founded in case law or ?common? law.1 The courts have consistently held that ?once land has been dedicated to use as a park, it cannot be diverted for uses other than recreation, in whole or in part, temporarily or permanently, even for another public purpose, without legislative approval.?2 The authorization contained in the act must be plainly conferred, specific, direct or explicit In most instances, the requirement that a municipality obtain legislative authorization inorder to alienate parkland is not found in a statute, which is a law passed by the legislature.Rather, the basic principle for parkland alienation is founded in case law or ?common? law.1The courts have consistently held that ?once land has been dedicated to use as a park, itcannot be diverted for uses other than recreation, in whole or in part, temporarily orpermanently, even for another public purpose, without legislative approval.?2 Theauthorization contained in the act must be plainly conferred, specific, direct or explicit.

How long does an alienation take?
The enactment of parkland alienation legislation is complex and can be very time consuming. For this reason it is advisable to begin work on an alienation proposal as early as possible, even in the months before a legislative session starts. This will allow for all of the reviews to be completed, and for the appropriate bill language to be drafted. State Parks believes that at least one year should be set aside to complete the alienation process from start to finish. However, some alienations take less than one year, and others take more than one year.

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