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Thompson Park Conservancy looks to sell 20 acres of parkland

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WATERTOWN — The overseers of Thompson Park are asking a state Supreme Court judge to approve the sale of about 20 acres of vacant parkland to an adjacent property owner.

The Thompson Park Conservancy Inc., which manages and operates the park and the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park, filed a request Tuesday at the Jefferson County clerk’s office to sell the property on outer Gotham Street to Susan M. and Glen D. Snell for $154,201. Under state law, any sale of property held by a nonprofit organization has to be approved by the court.

According to court documents, the land was donated to the conservancy in 1997 by Aline C. Taylor, who died in September 2011. The conservancy’s board of directors accepted the gift with plans to use the land as educational green space or for potential expansion of the zoo. However, the conservancy’s 16-member board since has determined that the 32-acre zoo will not be expanded. In all, the park consists of more than 300 acres.

The property has an appraised value of between $125,000 and $146,000, according to a recent appraisal conducted by Donald G.M. Coon. Its assessed value is $156,400. The board initially accepted a $159,900 purchase offer from the Snells in December, but the offer was amended after a surveyor discovered that a small portion of the parcel includes an “encroachment” by the Watertown Golf Club Inc., which had part of its fifth green cart path and its sixth tee box on the conservancy’s land. When the 20-acre parcel was subdivided from the conservancy’s property, the smaller parcel was subsequently subdivided into a second parcel and will be conveyed to the golf course.

After deducting various expenses associated with transferring the land, the conservancy will net about $142,000. According to court documents, the money will be used to “maintain and improve” the park and zoo.

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