SPB Needs Your Help
to Fight Road
by Lynne Jackson
Last summer, Judge Thomas Keegan handed down a win for Save the Pine Bush overturning a vote by the Common Council to make the "Loop Road" or Columbia Circle Drive a public road.
The problem is, the Common Council is going to vote again, perhaps in the next couple of weeks. This road is a disaster for the Pine Bush.
The road was built two years ago. It destroyed 3.5 acres of Pine Bush. The road was built with no environmental impact statement, with no input from the public, and no thought given for the fact it is a stone's throw from the Pine Bush preserve.
OK, you say. It's only 3.5 acres (I've heard that before, but when you add up all those little acres, you have one big piece of destroyed land). The road is a disaster for the Pine Bush because it opens fifty to seventy acres of Pine Bush up to development.
OK, you say, so the road is bad. But the road is built. It's too late to do anything, isn't it? It is definitely not too late. Because of SPB's win, the "road" is really just a long driveway. No new buildings can be built along this long driveway. It is essential that the City of Albany reject this road.
Already, a development is being proposed to be built along this road. Columbia Development Corporation and Teresian House are proposing to construct senior citizen housing between the road and the Pine Bush preserve. This project may be brought before the Albany Planning Board as soon as Thursday, January 25. .
SPB needs you to call or write to your Alderman, asking that they vote no on "Ordinance 18.72.95, An Ordinance accepting conveyance of certain land located in the City of Albany for street proposed to be known as Columbia Circle Drive."
The following are some reasons you can tell your alderman why the road should not be made into a public road:
- The passage or rejection of this ordinance is the litmus test for all Common Council members. This road would open up the largest remaining tract of Pine Bush in Albany to development. In March of 1994, the Common Council passed a resolution calling for the purchase of all of the remaining contiguous Pine Bush. The question now is, will the Common Council live up to their resolution?
- This road was built as a so called "mitigation measure" to mitigate the traffic impacts of construction of Columbia Circle and other developments along Frontage Road off of Washington Ave. Ext. Now that many of these developments will never be built (in particular an 80-acre site on the corner of Washington Ave. Ext. and Route 155 which the State purchased for preservation in 1994), do we even need this road?
- The ordinance states that this action has no significant environmental impact, which is a blatant violation of SEQRA. The road impacts the Pine Bush tremendously because it opens to development all of the land south of the road up to the border of the preserve.
- There are only four sites of the Federally and State endangered Karner Blue butterfly remaining in the Pine Bush which is a dramatic decline in the past 15 years. The Federal Register lists destruction of habitat as one of the main reasons for the population decline.
All four of these sites must be preserved in order for the butterfly to survive in the Pine Bush. One of these sites is located on the hill in the Crossgates parking lot. For the butterflies to survive, this hill must be connected ecologically with the main preserve area. Accepting conveyance of this road, and thus ensuring the destruction of this land, will completely cut-off the important Crossgates Hill from the main Pine Bush preserve. This could be the final nail in the coffin to the butterflies in the Pine Bush.
- Voting down this ordinance is one way of preserving the Pine Bush that would not cost the City a penny.
Please take a few minutes and call or write. If you do not live in the City of Albany, please select an alderman to call anyway, pointing out that the Pine Bush should be preserved for all residents of the Capital District. The aldermen are listed in the October/November newsletter. Or you can call City Hall information at 518/434-5075. With your help, this is a fight we can win!
Printed Jan/Feb 96