OSI protects historic property in village of Rensselaerville

NEW YORK, NY — July 11, 2011 — The Open Space Institute announced today the preservation of the historic Pal property, an 18th century forest and farmland parcel located between the Helderbergs and Catskills in the town of Rensselaerville.

The 333-acre property was purchased by the Open Space Conservancy, OSI's land acquisition affiliate, and sits at the gateway to the historic village of Rensselaerville, one of the first settlements in New York's upper Hudson River Valley.

Originally known as the Conkling Farm, the property was established by the Conkling family as one of the village's first settlements in the late 1700s. Since that date, it has remained an intact farm parcel, with the only development being a historic 5-acre home site and farm outbuildings, which were built by the Conkling fam­ily in 1806.

OSI acquired the property from Albany County, which took ownership of it in 2005 through a tax foreclosure process. The parcel lies in close proximity to other important conservation areas, including the Huyck Preserve, the Rensselaerville State Forest and the Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area. Because of its scenic and historic value, its preservation had been sought for some time by the Rensselaerville Historical Society as well as the state Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

"We are very pleased to work with the Open Space Institute to ensure this historic and scenic property is preserved for future generations," said Albany County Executive Mike Breslin. "This sale comes with many benefits, including preserving open space, protecting the Town of Rensselaerville from over-development and bringing revenue to county property taxpayers."

Alexander "Sandy" Gordon, the county Legislator representing Albany County's Hilltowns, a member of the Legislature's Conservation and Improvement Committee and a farmer himself, said, "I am pleased that Albany County and the Open Space Institute were able to partner to preserve this 333-acre parcel, which is one of our Hilltowns' original and now remaining farms."

OSI has protected more than 1,000 acres of land in the Helderbergs through a series of property and conserva­tion easement acquisitions, including a conservation easement acquisition protecting the 318-acre Ketcham farm, located several miles north of Rensselaerville. OSI also added more than 800 acres to nearby John Boyd Thacher State Park. In all, nearly 15,000 acres have been protected in the Helderberg region, including 12,486 acres of state land within five miles of the Pal property.

OSI intends to resell the property encumbered by a conservation easement that would ensure its permanent protection.

"This property lends itself to protection for its scenic and historic values," said OSI President and CEO Kim Elliman. "We hope a buyer who loves land and history will purchase the 200-year old house and restore it appropriately."

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