Like a junkie in need of a fi x — in
this case the addiction is cash — Albany Mayor Jerry
Jennings will stop at nothing in his quest to get yet another
lease on life at the city’s Rapp Road landfill.
Never mind that Jennings has been told
more than once to forget it by the state Department of Environmental
Conservation, which recognizes the ecological significance of
the land he wants for his landfill expansion — 12.6 acres
of the Pine Bush Preserve, one of the largest inland pine barrens
in the world.
The preserve may be less than one-fifth
of its original size, but Jennings couldn’t seem to care
less. And even though the city has yet to do the mandatory environmental
quality review for its proposal, it thought nothing of sending
a bulldozer into the preserve in late April to start road-prep
Now Jennings has persuaded state lawmakers
to file a bill — after the May 30 deadline — that
would give tacit approval of the landfill project. In exchange,
the city would be committed to buying 30 extra acres for the
Pine Bush, and the land would supposedly have to be as good or
better ecologically than the added dump land.
There’s something fishy about this
rush job. For one thing, it seems premature of the Legislature
to be approving anything until the state DEC has signed off.
An even better question is, who’ll be the judge to determine
whether the land to be obtained later in this little trade will
really be any good?
The majority of state lawmakers may not
give a hoot what happens to the Pine Bush Preserve, but those
representing the Capital Region should. And Albany’s financial
needs — it gets $13 million year selling landfill space
to its neighbors — don’t justify this kind of sacrifice.