ALBANY: On Tuesday, September 12, at a meeting
of the Common Council General Services Committee, the City
of Albany made its third proposal to take protected Pine Bush
land and turn it into a landfill.
It is important to consider the history of the City’s landfill
expansion proposals in the past year. First, the City proposed
to take 20 acres of the 60 acre “Fox Run Mobile Home Park” parcel.
A condition of the permit to operate the current landfill,
the entire 60-acre parcel was to have been purchased by the
City in 2000 and immediately dedicated to the Pine Bush Preserve.
The City managed to purchase this 60 acres, but conveniently “forgot” to
dedicate it to the Pine Bush Preserve. Save the Pine Bush filed
suit to require the City to dedicate the 60 acres of the Fox Run
Mobile Home Park on January 18, 2006. The very next day, in his
State of the City address, Mayor Jerry Jennings said that “City
would do the right thing” and dedicate the land to the Preserve.
Mayor Jennings then went on to explain that the landfill would
be expanded to the west — on 13 acres of land that had
been dedicated to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve years ago.
Over tremendous public opposition, the Albany Common Council
passed a home rule resolution asking the NYS Legislature to
pass legislation to alienate this park land. Assemblyman John
McEneny introduced the home rule bill, but then sent it to
committee to die (see related article) after he determined
that an environmental impact statement should be prepared first.
The City was in a big hurry to alienate this Preserve land
for the landfill expansion in June, but the City did not start
the environmental review process.
Now, seeing how extremely unpopular taking Preserve for a
landfill expansion is, the City is trying another tactic for
its landfill expansion. At the September meeting, the City
proposed to expand the landfill to the east, taking a huge
chunk of Pine Bush, including a dune that is owned by the City
but though Pine Bush ecosystem, has never been added to the
Preserve. Also, the City is proposing to take from 3 to 6 acres
of land that Governor Patacki and Mayor Jennings promised to
add to the Preserve in 2000.
These 3 to 6 acres are part of the first land trade in the
Pine Bush. Land in the Pine Bush owned by developers was acquired
by New York State by trading land owned by the State north
of the Harriman Office Campus. At a press conference in May,
2000, the Governor, Mayor Jennings, Assemblyman McEneny, among
other officials lauded this land trade.
However, though the State clearly acquired this land the
Preserve and the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission map clearly
shows this land as protected, the land was never actually formally
dedicated to the Pine Bush Preserve.
Now, the City is proposing to take this protected land for
the landfill expansion.
It is quite notable that at the meeting where this new plan
for the landfill expansion, no mention was made of other alternatives
to solving the City’s solid waste problem. No one mentioned
methods to reduce solid waste, or to encourage reuse, or ways
to increase recycling.
From a visual inspection of maps issued by the City for this
new landfill expansion proposal, it appears that this proposal
will actually take more Pine Bush ecosystem to be used as
a landfill than the last proposal.
It is time for the City to look at real, long-term, rational
means to deal with solid waste that do not involve expanding
in the Pine Bush.