I am here tonight to comment on legislation that the Common
Council will pass tonight, dedicating the Fox Run Mobile Home
Park land to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.
This legislation is a prime example of why the City administration
and the members of the Albany Common Council should listen
to the citizens of Albany when we speak to you about important
This legislation is a victory for the citizens.
Let me take a moment to review the history that brings us
to this legislation today.
In February, 2000, the City of Albany was granted a permit
to build and operate the P-4 landfill expansion in the Pine
Bush. One of the permit conditions stated that the City
must purchase the 60-acre Fox Run Mobile Home Park and dedicate
the 40-acre unoccupied portion immediately to the Pine Bush
The City purchased the land in the summer of 2000, but did
not dedicate the land.
Years went by. The land was not dedicated. This
entire time, the City was in violation of the permit conditions
for the P-4 landfill permit.
In October, 2004, the Honorable Dominick Calsolaro wrote to
the City to ask about dedication of this land. As far
as I know, the City never responded to Mr. Calsolaro’s
letter. The City, however, wrote to DEC explaining that
it could not dedicate the land without subdivision, a nonsense
Another year went by. In October, 2005, the Mayor announced
that the City was going to expand the landfill onto the Fox
Run Mobile Home Park land; that the City would eventually dedicate
the land to the Preserve, after having filled it up with garbage.
Volunteers for Save the Pine Bush watched as this scenario
un-folded. We felt betrayed by the City. We were astonished
that the City would break the law and take land the City was
required to dedicate to the Preserve and make it into a landfill.
Our lawyer, Peter Henner, began researching a lawsuit over
the City’s proposal to expand the landfill onto Fox Run
in violation of the P-4 landfill permit.
On January 18, 2006, Save the Pine Bush sued Mayor Jennings
and the City of Albany over the City’s proposal to expand
the landfill onto Fox Run.
The very next day, on January, 19, the Mayor announced at
the state of the City address, that the “City would do
the right thing” and dedicate the Fox Run Mobile Home
Park to the Pine Bush Preserve.
This legislation, dedicating the Fox Run land to the Preserve,
will settle our lawsuit with the City over the City’s
violation of its P-4 landfill permit.
We could have all avoided a lot of legal fees, time and effort,
if the City had simply followed its obligation in the first
place and listened to Save the Pine Bush who asked that the
land be dedicated.
However, the issue of expanding the landfill into the ecologically
rare Pine Bush is not by any means settled. The City’s
current proposal to expand onto land that is dedicated as forever
wild in the Pine Bush Preserve is simply dreadful.
I would like to suggest that you, the Common Council listen
to us, Save the Pine Bush, on this proposed expansion. We
say “This is a bad idea. Landfills do not belong in rare
ecosystems like the Pine Bush. ”
The City has to get the NYS Legislature to un-dedicate or
alienate this Preserve land.
You should think about this – the City is asking the
legislature to take land out of a Preserve and make it into
Taking land out of Preserve is a very serious action. How
is the City ever going to convince the legislature to take
land out of the Preserve for a landfill?
What happens if the legislature decides that it would look
too stupid to its constituents and decides not to un-dedicate
the land? What are the City’s options? Does
the City have a backup plan?
OK, you say, so you environmentalists don’t want the
City to expand in the Pine Bush, what are we supposed to do
with the garbage?
There are two issues regarding landfill expansion 1) what
to do with the City’s garbage and 2) what to do about
the income generated by the landfill.
These two issues must be separated. The landfill expansion
is more about revenue than it is about garbage. If the
City stopped taking garbage from private haulers, the current
landfill would serve the City for another 10 or 20 years.
This is completely and solely about money.
Save the Pine Bush knows what the City should do to generate
the revenues needed to replace the money lost from the landfill.
The City should take a lead role in the revitalization of
the Harriman Office Campus and become the Master Developer.
The City could then organize the most massive land swap of
Pine Bush land for Harriman Office campus land.
There are many developers who own Pine Bush ecosystem in the
Towns of Colonie and Guilderland and the City. Many of
these developers have plans to build all kinds of developments,
the type of development we want at Harriman.
Why not trade the land the developers own in the Pine Bush
for land at Harriman? It has been done before.
By quickly developing Harriman, the City will realize millions
more in tax revenue, more than the money they would lose by
not accepting other municipalities’ garbage.
Everyone would win. The Pine Bush Preserve would be
expanded. The Towns of Colonie and Guilderland would
look good because of all of the Pine Bush that would be preserved,
and the City would benefit by having significantly more taxable
So, I suggest the Common Council listen to us. Separate the
issue of garbage from income. Look for other sources
of revenue. And, protect the Pine Bush because there
is only one Pine Bush.