OK, Crossgates has been in the news a lot recently. Actually,
they made it into the international news. Save the Pine Bush
has received emails from out raged people as far away as Sydney
Australia, and California.
People are mad.
To recap: On Monday evening, March 3, Stephen Downs and his
son Roger, were stopped by a security guard at Crossgates Maul.
They were wearing T-shirts which they had just purchased at
the mall. Stephen’s T-shirt said ”Peace on Earth”
on the front and “Give Peace a Chance” on the back.
Roger’s shirt said “No War with Iraq” on the
front and “Let Inspections Work” on the back.
They were asked by a Crossgates security guard to leave the
mall. A Guilderland police officer, who was already at the mall,
was asked for assistance. The police officer spoke with the
Downs for an hour, asking them to either leave or remove their
Stephen Downs, an attorney with New York State’s Commission
on Judicial Conduct, refused to remove his shirt, and was arrested
No matter how many denials are made by Crossgates officials,
the Downs’ were obviously asked to leave because of their
shirts. Free speech is not allowed at Crossgates.
Though hundreds of people shop at Crossgates every day, it is
considered private property. The people who own the property
appear to be able to regulate what people wear. Is this really
What isn’t in the international news
Crossgates fires people unjustly
Crossgates isn’t just a bad neighbor because they don’t
want visitors wearing T-shirts with a message of peace. They
are a bad neighbor because they seem to have placed the blame
for this incident on the shoulders of the security guard who
signed the complaint against Stephen Downs. Crossgates fired
Robert Williams, who has worked at the mall for more than nine
years, and has been honored for his service to the mall. According
to an account in the Times Union, Williams said, “I just
followed the directions of management of that mall to the letter.
And I get fired for doing my job.”
Mr. Williams said it was his boss, Fred Tallman, who made the
decision to have Mr. Downs arrested if he did not take off his
shirt. However, according to Mr. Williams, Mr. Tallman was too
busy to sign the complaint. According to Mr. Williams, Mr. Tallman
told the police officer, “he represents the company so
he can sign [the complaint]”.
Crossgates is lax about security
In an article published on January 11, 2003, the Times Union
reported that a 14-year old girl was robbed of $100 bill outside
the rest room. Instead of calling police, the security guard
said if the girl didn’t know the serial number of the
bill, he couldn’t help her. Despite the fact the girl
had a detailed description of the robber, it took mall personnel
two hours before they notified the police.
Note the amount of time it took to sic the police on Mr. Downs
(according to all written reports, it was immediate) as opposed
to a young girl being robbed of her Christmas money at the mall.
This begs the question of what is more important to mall management?
Crossgates doesn’t want to pay its fair share
Pryamid, owner of Crossgates, has appealed its tax assessment
every year since 1993, except in 2001, when it missed the deadline.
So far, Pyramid has lost every case. The Appellate Division
just decided the most recent case, which involved tax assessments
for 1996/97 and 1997/98. According to a report printed in the
“We reject PCC’s [Pyramid Crossgates Company] assertion
that the Supreme Court abused its discretion in refusing to
forgive its failure to comply with clear mandates,” wrote
Judge Edward O. Spain in a decision with which the other four
judges concurred. “PCC did not file or serve a statement
of income and expenses in the nearly six years . . .such neglect
in filing an income and expense statement cannot be excused
as a mere ‘technicality’ in this case.”
There are still outstanding appeals. Pyramid continues to pay
its taxes, so if Guilderland loses, then the school district
and the town would need to pay Pryamid back. If Pryamid wins
the other tax appeals, it is estimated that the school district
would owe $13 million and the town $9 to 10 million. The school
district and town have together spent an estimated $500,000
on legal fees defending their assessment of the property.
In conclusion - a bad neighbor
Crossgates destroyed 180 acres of Pine Bush ecosystem and Karner
Blue habitat when it was built. Despite tremendous citizen opposition
to the construction of Crossgates, and a year of environmental
hearings, the citizens lost and Crossgates was built. It has
expanded several times, each time facing the wrath of the citizens.
Its last proposed expansion, which would have doubled its size,
was withdrawn in the face of a town of people who were enraged
at the thought of the mall getting bigger still.
Crossgates is a blight on the landscape. It contributes to the
degraded air pollution of our region, because the only way to
get there is to drive (there are buses to Crossgates, but the
number of people who take the bus are quite limited compared
to the number of people who drive). Walking to Crossgates is
not for the faint of heart or for anyone who can’t run
a five minute mile to dodge the traffic. It has increased traffic
on Western Avenue to the point it is dangerous to walk on the
street by the mall entrance and bicycling is out of the question
for all but the extremely brave. Downtown Albany and Schenectady
are bereft of anything resembling a department store.
Crossgates epitomizes sprawl. It is an attractive place for
young people to gather, yet, as it is considered private property,
freedom of speech and assembly are not allowed. In many ways,
malls have replaced our public town squares with privatized
spaces solely concerned with making a buck.
Its a poor substitute for a town square.
Save the Pine Bush encourages everyone to boycott Crossgates.
There is still hope
In the past thirty years, two malls in the Capital Region
were built and torn down. Save the Pine Bush hopes to see the
day Crossgates is torn down. Lets see, if a mall lasts thirty
years, then Crossgates will be gone by 2014. Hopefully, it will
be replaced with restored Pine Bush -- the only question remaining
is do we rip out the foundation or not before restoring the
Read more about Crossgates at these links:
A sampling of stories from the
by Save the Pine Bush