About 25 years back, Albany politicians made a foolish decision to purchase a large property in Coeymans (ten miles south of Albany), hoping to site a regional landfill there to replace the Rapp Road Landfill that DEC was then threatening to soon close. Albany took many years purchasing the property, eventually spending more than $5 million for 363 acres. During that decade city officials apparently never carefully examined the site to see if it was suitable for a landfill. Maybe they thought DEC was such a pushover that it would not matter if it contained large tracts of wetlands which it does.
The landfill was never sited. In recent years Albany has paid annual property taxes of about $100,000 on the tract. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan has often indicated her desire to sell the property. No one was willing to pay anywhere near the high purchase price Albany paid. About a year ago, DEC hinted that it might be willing to buy it for about $620,000 but the sale was never completed.
More recently, Carver Laraway, owner of the Port of Coeymans, made a purchase offer of about $620,000 that the Albany Common Council accepted (the vote was 9-1) on November 6. Mr. Laraway is a controversial businessman with supporters and opponents in Coeymans and Ravena.
One opponent of the sale to Mr. Laraway is Barbara Heinzen, owner of property in the Hamlet of Coeymans, who wrote an October 29 letter to council members Judy Doesschate and Richard Conti in which she offered seven reasons to reject the sale. Below are numbers four and five.
“Fourth, our experience with Carver Laraway as a businessman in the Town of Coeymans is that he does not respect environmental assets of any kind. He persuaded the previous Town Board to dismiss the need for any environmental review when he asked the Town to rezone agricultural/residential land to industrial uses by the Coeymans Industrial Park. This was over the objections of several major environmental groups and despite the obvious risks of serious impacts on the landscape, the waters of the Coeymans Creek and Hudson River, and the quality of life in the Hamlet of Coeymans and the Village of Ravena. This rezoning was challenged immediately in an Article 78, but thanks to repeated legal delaying tactics, the entire area has now been developed without any ruling on the legality of the rezoning. More recently, Carver Laraway persuaded the Village of Ravena to rezone about 70 acres of land for heavy industry, despite its proximity to residential housing and the local primary school, again without any environmental impact study. Over the past year, I have seen barges for the Port of Coeymans anchored alongside Schodack Island and have been told that they are simply tied to trees on the Island. Is this the action of someone who values the environmental resources of the Hudson River and its watershed?”
“Fifth, our experience with Carver Laraway’s businesses as neighbors is that they do not respect the needs of the local community. While he has frequently agreed to limits on noise from the Industrial Park and the Port, he routinely ignores them. Residents have been assaulted by noise at all hours of the day and night, on weekdays and weekends. People in the hamlets of both Coeymans and New Baltimore, as well as Main St, Ravena, are constantly assaulted by heavy industrial trucks within 10 ft of their front doors. My neighbors and I have repeatedly experienced both the traffic and the noise. With that record, and his disregard for environmental care, any promises Mr Laraway makes about protecting the wetlands of this property must be taken with a large grain of salt. He will not respect his promises, so why should you believe them?”
Think about it: Albany obtains its high quality water from the higher elevations in the western part of Coeymans. For many years Albany politicians threatened to wreck a huge parcel in the eastern part of the same town. Now Albany politicians are apparently selling these 363 acres to someone with a very controversial environmental record. Is Albany a good neighbor?