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QUEENSBURY — The town is protecting nearly 400 acres from future development after making two major purchases of open space land.

The Town Board on Monday voted to accept donations from the Freiberger family to complete the purchase of three parcels comprising 78 acres that surround Rush Pond Trail and form what the town is calling Rush Pond Park.

It also agreed to buy a roughly 313-acre French Mountain parcel, which lies in Queensbury and Lake George.

Supervisor John Strough said the Freiberger property acquisition happened after a group of nine residents approached the town about preserving the three privately owned parcels near Rush Pond.

“It’s wonderful that you have a grassroots organization coming in and willing to raise their own money to do a really wonderful thing,” he said.

The three properties were assessed at $167,200, but the residents were able to negotiate a price of $150,000, Strough said. The residents raised more than $25,000. The Open Space Institute donated $50,000, and the town contributed the remaining $75,000.

Strough said it was a good deal.

“The town bought this basically with the people’s money for less than a thousand (dollars) an acre,” he said.

Glen Bruening, one of the residents involved in the project, thanked town officials for their long-term vision of protecting open space, despite development pressures.

“It’s one of the things that makes our community a lovely place to live, work and play,” he said.

Also on Monday, the Town Board agreed to spend $77,000 for its share of the cost to buy the French Mountain land, which is located off Bloody Pond Road, about halfway up the back side of the mountain.

Lake George Supervisor Dennis Dickinson led the effort to preserve this property, which faces south to the village with expansive views of the lake and is also near the Warren County Bikeway.

The Lake George Land Conservancy is buying the property from the McPhillips family for $525,000. It will place conservation easements on the property and then sell it to the towns of Lake George and Queensbury at the discounted price of $134,000.

The towns are splitting the cost at $67,000 a piece, and each are spending $10,000 for maintenance.

Strough said the lower part of the land is located in Lake George with the upper half in Queensbury and it connects to the Top of the World golf course.

“It has some beautiful views, and if it was developed, it would only add to the deterioration (of Lake George),” he said.

The land will be used for passive recreation, such as hiking and mountain biking.

Strough thanked Lake George Land Conservancy Director Jamie Brown his help on the project.

“Thank you for keeping Lake George water quality better than it would have been,” the supervisor said.

Brown thanked the board in turn.

“This group is very forward-thinking, and thank you for your support with the (French) Mountain project and all these projects,” he said.

Town Board member Tony Metivier said he had not thought the projects would come to fruition.

He is excited about the possibility for mountain-biking and would give it a spin, he said, even though he does road biking.

“I cannot wait to ride French Mountain sometime. I’m almost crawling out of my skin,” he said.

He said recreation is a big asset and many visitors to the area come up from downstate and New Jersey for outdoor recreation.

Board member Catherine Atherden said she is looking forward to walking French Mountain.

Strough jokingly suggested calling a meeting to walk the property.

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Michael Goot covers politics, business, the city of Glens Falls and the town and village of Lake George. Reach him at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com and follow his blog at http://poststar.com/blogs/michael_goot/.

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