How does one make the best use of 166 acres of prime farmland and woodlands located near the center of a thriving Upstate New York city?
Mike Ingersoll has a pretty good idea. He’s been working with Pitney Meadows Community Farm (PMCF) on its site plan since last spring. The City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to take two big steps forward toward creating what truly will be the farm of the future.
A farm that from the air will look something like this:
The City Council voted unanimously both to proceed with a review of PMCF's request for a zoning change on the property and to have the City take the lead on the SEQR environmental assessment.
So the real work of defining what the farm will be and securing all of the official approvals now truly begins. As their next step in the process, the PMCF Board of Directors is hosting a public forum Sunday, March 5, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Universal Preservation Hall, 25 Washington Street in Saratoga Springs.
Ingersoll, principal at The LA Group, has overseen more than 100 adaptive re-use and planning projects within the City of Saratoga Springs over the past 35 years. He'll share the thinking that has gone into producing that remarkable design above. To join the discussion and participate in designing the future of the farm, please join us. You may RSVP here.
PRESERVING THE CITY'S AGRICULTURAL HERITAGE
For more than 30 years, Ingersoll has served as the LA Group’s principal in charge of design services, overseeing more than 60 adaptive re-use and planning projects within the City of Saratoga Springs.
PMCF’s acquisition of the Pitney Farm last December “represents an opportunity to preserve a part of the City’s agricultural heritage and to set aside a large greenspace that’s functional for both the public and agricultural industry,” he says. “This property can serve many needs for the future and. like parkland, can provide the desired resource protection within the city limits.”
“As the city continues to grow, this resource will become more valued,” he adds. “The site’s close proximity to the YMCA, Saratoga Springs High School, Spa State Park, and several trail systems makes it essential to the enlargement of the ‘City in the Country’ concept. As a working farm, it also can promote the many agricultural aspects that this region has historically relied on.”
PMCF wants to use the property to for agriculture, education, trails, and housing for PMCF staff, students and interns. Its proposed change in zoning must be approved by the City Planning Board, the City Design Review Commission, and the County Planning Board.
These entities, says Ingersoll, will consider such elements as building placement and size, utility connections, vehicular access, parking and storm water management. As required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), environmental reviews will be conducted for traffic, noise, visual impacts, magnitude of site usages, fire and access, as well as any public recreation, educational or outdoor activities.
A FUNCTIONAL AND AESTHETIC VISION
In the site plan, The LA Group has produced what Ingersoll calls a "functional and aesthetic vision of the property that respects the property’s unique setting and balances all project components, such as building placement, parking, deliveries, public access, and agricultural areas.”
“The plan aims to provide a balance of the community’s desires, while providing for the agri-business needs for the farm, maintaining flexibility and sustainability for the future of the property, and any likely adjustments as time goes on,” he adds.
The process of developing the plan started when Ingersoll sat down with the PMCF Board of Directors to identify expectations for the property’s special layout needs and programs that support PMCF’s business plan. A half-dozen team members then visited and walked the property to observe the property’s natural and man-made attributes.
“Simultaneously, we assembled as much of the data that was available for the property such as surveys, topographic information, wetland locations, vegetative analysis, soils information, utility availability, pedestrian and vehicular access, and any previous studies performed, such as the conservation easement requirements for this site,” Ingersoll said. “We also obtained an understanding of the local land use regulations and restrictions for the property.”
"This is a historic moment,” Ingersoll told the City Council Tuesday night in presenting the plan. “We are about to endeavor into assuring that the vision to which you all committed in helping to purchase this property and setting the easements actually becomes reality. This is a tremendous opportunity and vision that helps to unify where we're headed.”
Dan Forbush with Miranda Sullivan, Assistant Publisher