BENEFITING: SARATOGA P L A N INC
Saratoga PLAN announced today (April 20, 2016) that the nonprofit organization has ceased efforts to acquire the 166-acre Pitney Farm on West Avenue in the City of Saratoga Springs. When the project was announced last spring, the concept for a community farm was shared and enthusiastically endorsed by PLAN, the sellers, the City, the agricultural and educational community, and many residents willing to make donations and volunteer to conserve a cherished place and long-time open space priority.
Over the course of the past year, as details of the partners’ visions for the Community Farm became clear, they diverged, resulting in restrictions that would, in Saratoga PLAN’s estimation, impede a financially viable community farm operation and limit future agricultural options for the farm. Therefore, in spite of significant investments made by PLAN over the past two years, PLAN has decided that it must exercise its fiduciary responsibility to the organization and its donors by suspending further investment in the project.
“A lack of significant progress in several months regarding restrictions on future uses of the land is what led the Board of Directors to make this difficult decision,” explains PLAN’s Board Chair, John Munter. “Our team has been working tirelessly to bring this project to fruition, but ultimately we need to allocate resources to initiatives that are achievable and aligned with PLAN’s mission and values.”
PLAN remains eager to provide resources and services to ensure that this land remains a working farm. There are outside efforts underway to carry on the community farm idea and to conserve the land for agricultural purposes. PLAN is willing continue to help the owners move forward with selling a conservation easement to the City of Saratoga Springs, which has authorized use of $1.13M from the sale of open space bonds for this purpose. Saratoga PLAN will also continue to focus on strengthening local agriculture through its many other farmland conservation projects currently in the works.
The enthusiastic outpouring of community support for saving this special place for a community farm was remarkable. It was the organization’s most successful fundraising effort to date for land conservation in Saratoga County, with 87% of the $3.1M project cost raised or pledged to date. PLAN is contacting all financial contributors to the project to return or repurpose donations, as per the donors’ wishes.