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Money means Rogers Island sale can proceed

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Rogers Island

Derek Pruitt - dpruitt@poststar.com Monuments to the British Expeditionary Forces of the French and Indian War stand along the dead end road running to the southern end of Rogers Island in Fort Edward on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. The monuments were placed by Frank Nastasi after he purchased the acreage on the island because he was interested in the history there. When he died, the island and artifacts uncovered there were left to his son Anthony, who lives in Long Island and is committed to selling the land so it can become a public park like his father wanted.

FORT EDWARD -- The village will receive $400,000 in state funding to help with buying a large segment of Rogers Island, to make the historic site a public park.

It was announced Thursday that the village will get the money as part of the funding awards for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's 10 regional economic councils.

"It's a good day for Fort Edward," Mayor Matthew Traver said Thursday. "We couldn't be happier, this was a long time coming."

The plan is for the village and town to jointly purchase 34 acres on the island from a private owner. Traver believes the process will start sometime this winter, he said.

The $400,000 will add to $100,000 in state funding that state Sen. Elizabeth Little had previously secured for the purchase. The purchase price that has been discussed for the land is $500,000.

The 34-acre purchase would include land south of the railroad tracks on the island, with the exception of about 5

acres owned by the Idle Hour Club.

In addition to creating a public park, Traver said those involved hope to develop the southern tip of the island commercially at some point in the future.

Rogers Island is a historic site from the French and Indian War, where archeologists have uncovered skeletons and several hundred boxes of artifacts, including cannon balls and cuff links from soldiers barracked at the site.

Maj. Robert Rogers, the island's namesake, was stationed on the island, and it's considered the birthplace of the Army Rangers.

The island was bought by Frank Nastasi, who was interested in its history, and when he died, he left the property to his son Anthony. Anthony Nastasi, who lives on Long

Island, has repeatedly expressed an interest in selling the land so it can become a public park, which was his father's wish.

The artifacts uncovered on the island are in Nastasi's possession and part of the purchase plan is for him to donate those back so they can be kept at the Rogers Island Visitors Center.

Once the artifacts are acquired and the sale is final, the village and town will determine how to develop the park. Several studies have been done and different ideas floated in anticipation of the sale.

Once the money comes through, representatives from the town, village and Rogers Island Visitors Center will narrow those studies and ideas into "one solid package," Traver said.

But some of that work can start now, village attorney Matt Fuller said.

Fuller will reach out soon

to lawyers for the Nastasi family, he said Thursday afternoon.

"We won't sit back and wait for the money, there's certainly work to be done," Fuller said.

Nastasi was close to completing a sale for the land with the state several years ago, but it fell through because of the state's budget woes.

Last month, those involved locally with the purchase plan expressed uncertainty about a sale if the $400,000 didn't come through. Now that it has, they're ready to move forward.

The funding award was welcome news for Neal Orsini, a member of both the town and Rogers Island Visitors Center boards.

"We're ready to go," Orsini said. "We've been planning for this for six years."

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