On Dec. 14, the 246 acre plot of land at the corner of Route 50 and Middleline Road, often called the Hawkwood Estate, became the property of the Town of Ballston and will be used as a passive recreational park.
Former Ballston Town Supervisor Patrick Ziegler said: “It is with pride and gratitude that I accept this wonderful gift to the Town of Ballston. The site of the former Hawkwood estate will provide educational and recreational opportunities for generations to come. Conveniently located in the center of Town, the entire parcel is located within the Ballston Lake Watershed Overlay District. Protecting the site from future development is critical to the health of Ballston Lake and will help preserve the rural character of the Town. The park will also serve as a buffer to the Rural District, protecting our farms against commercial and residential encroachment. I could not be more grateful to Frank Schidzick and the Taylor family for their generosity and commitment to the preservation of this beautiful property,”
The property, yet to be named by the Ballston Town Board, will become a park for town residents to use during all seasons of the year. Picnicking, walking, and bird watching in the summer as well as snowshoeing, snowmobiling, hiking, and cross country skiing would be probable uses for the property. Hunting will not be allowed. According to town historian Rick Reynolds, the original building on the property dates back to the 1790s.
It was built by Henry Walton who bucked the trend at the time and decided not to build his mansion in Saratoga. In the 1800s, the property was owned by the Delevan family, a wealthy family from Albany and later by the wealthy Baker family. Old foundations from the original house as well as remains from many outbuilding remain on the property. The town is planning an archaeological dig on the property in the future. A legally-binding perpetual agreement between the Taylor Family and Saratoga PLAN, a nonprofit conservation organization, will ensure the protection of the property’s ecological, scenic, and recreational values for future generations. The Town of Ballston will own and manage the land, while Saratoga PLAN will be responsible for ensuring that the agreement is upheld over time. The agreement permits public access for recreational purposes that do not significantly impair wildlife habitat, the natural forest community, or wetland and aquatic habitats.