Van Dyke Spinney donates land

Conservancy group to develop trails on parcel

— The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is planning to turn 30 acres of land in the Town of Bethlehem into hiking trails for public use.

The property was donated earlier this year as part of a deal between the town and the owners of Van Dyke Spinney, a senior housing complex in development near the intersection of Van Dyke Road and Meads Lane. The acquisition means the land conservancy now protects more than 2,500 acres of land in the Capital District.

“The town really worked with the developers to make sure this land was open and able to be used, not just by the residents of the housing complex, but by the public as well,” said MHLC Executive Director Jill Knapp.

The majority of the land protected by the organization is donated by residents or given through similar project deals, according to Knapp.

“A lot of people in the area want to see their land protected and give it to us,” she said. “In this case, the land wasn’t really developable but was pretty. It made more sense for us to own the property and was a good compromise for all.”

The majority of the land lies to the west of Van Dyke Road. About 25 acres is set to be turned into hiking trails and developed for public use. Another 8 acres to the east along the Phillipin Kill will remain wild.

Knapp said the public can visit the property now, but development on the area isn’t expected to begin until 2014. The work is stalled because volunteers are waiting to develop the trails until the town has completed a plan to make improvements at the Van Dyke Road and Meads Lane intersection.

Town engineer Paul Penman said the town received a federal grant to lower the steepness of the intersection to fix the range of view for drivers. Spinney developers contributed an additional $50,000 to the project.

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