FORT ANN — Virginia Parrott, the town’s historian for 45 years, was overjoyed by the work that a team from the Public Archaeology Facility at Binghamton University had done on historic Battle Hill.
What Parrott and other residents struggled with Monday night at a Town Board meeting was how high the bid was that was accepted to develop a master plan for the Battle Hill Trail System.
“After all the years of work they put into the (Battle Hill) project ... it took 45 years to get someone to take notice of Battle Hill. The bid is rushed,” Parrott said after the meeting in the volunteer fire station.
The board approved a resolution to accept a $37,500 bid from The LA Group Landscape Architecture and Engineering of Saratoga Springs to create the master plan.
LA Group’s bid was the town’s only offer. The board advertised the proposal on Dec. 14 in The Post-Star, and on Dec. 15, the bid was made.
The deadline for submission for the bid was Jan. 5.
The master plan will outline what the town would like to see happen to its property. Christine Milligan, commander of the local American Legion, said she’d like to see trails and signs with information, and told board members she believed they could get a better deal.
“I don’t want a hardship on the taxpayers,” Milligan said.
“We are paying all this money to have someone write, ‘Put a trail here,’ and, ‘Put a sign here,’” Milligan said after the meeting ended.
The town received a matching grant of $20,000 for the project, meaning that taxes will raise another $20,000 for a total of $40,000 — more than the bid amount.
Milligan didn’t name an amount she thought would be better than $37,500, but pointed out the money won’t be put toward any actual work on Battle Hill — just the written plan.
Parrott questioned whether it was legal for the board to accept the bid, considering it was the only offer.
The board reassured residents it was.
Town Supervisor Richie Moore said he felt the bid is reasonable, based on the work that needs to be done. Moore noted at the meeting that if other offers had been made he would have considered them.
“This is only the first step ... there’s a lot to be done,” Moore said.
Battle Hill covers 165 acres of challenging topography.
The Battle Hill site will join several other key historic sites in the region, including Fort Ticonderoga, Fort William Henry in Lake George and Rogers Island in Fort Edward.
LA Group won’t start working on the master plan for some time, Moore said, and the town will hold meetings to gather residents’ input on what they’d like to see happen there.
“The ultimate goal is to hopefully have a place with trails, park benches, kiosks, a place people can go and sit and learn what took place here hundreds of years ago,” Moore said.
The Battle of Fort Anne was fought on July 8, 1777, when the outcome of the Revolutionary War and the country’s future were still in doubt, according to research done by the Civil War Trust.
British troops under Gen. John Burgoyne were trying to slice the new nation in two by cutting off New England from the other colonies.
According to the Civil War Trust, Burgoyne planned to march down the Hudson River, capture Albany, and build a chain of outposts from New York City to Montreal.
After a number of successes, Burgoyne’s forces made their way to Fort Anne, where Colonial forces made a stand, attacking a detachment of 200 British soldiers on a wooded hill.
The combatants fought until they exhausted their ammunition and the Colonials withdrew, anticipating British reinforcements. The Battle of Fort Anne was a precursor to the destruction of Burgoyne’s army three months later at Saratoga.