Save the Pine Bush, You can fight City Hall and win!

Common Council Approves an Office Complex at
365 Washington Avenue Extension

Council Member Carol Wallace
Makes Eloquent Plea for the Pine Bush Preservation

Albany, NY - The Common Council approved a re-zoning for office buildings at 365 Washington Extension by a vote of 10 to 3 on November 6, 2000. Before the Council voted, Council Member Carol Wallace from the First Ward (Mansion area and South End of Albany) made passionate arguments about why this legislation should not be passed. Noting the that the Pine Bush is a globally unique ecosystem, Ms. Wallace described many reasons why the Pine Bush should be protected and why constructing offices in the Pine Bush is bad for the City of Albany.

Ms. Wallace passed out a map of the city which shows how the Pine Bush is in the "pan-handle" of the City. The Albany Pine Bush is much farther from downtown Albany than it is from the suburbs of Colonie and Guilderland. Ms. Wallace pointed out that building offices in the Pine Bush would not bring people into the City, rather it would be easier for people who work in the Pine Bush to live in the surrounding suburbs, which does not benefit the City.

Ms. Wallace spoke about air pollution. She noted that there are four locations in Albany County to test for air pollution: the Health Department on Green Street, the Albany Public Library, a location in Loundonville and one in Cohoes. When the developer states that constructing these offices with a 400-car parking lot and all of the traffic generated to these buildings, there would be no effect on the air pollution, that there really is no way of knowing because no tests of air pollution are done any where near the site.

The Capital District Transportation Committee is currently conducting a study of traffic in the Pine Bush. There is a particular problem with the 2-lane bridge over Route 155 in terms of congestion. The intersection of Route 155 and Washington Avenue Extension is already over-burdened. Ms. Wallace asked that no re-zonings be approved until this traffic study is complete.

In addition, due to the 485b tax-reduction program, it may be years before the City sees the promised tax revenues from these developments. The 485b program gives developers a tax break over a ten-year period.

Lastly, Ms. Wallace asked what it means to create jobs in the City, as promised by the developers. For example, Time-Warner is moving a few miles west, out of the Pine Bush and into Rotterdam. But, the people who currently work for Time-Warner will still work for Time Warner. Ms. Wallace asked, does building offices in the Pine Bush create jobs in the City?

Ms. Wallace spoke eloquently against sprawl and for Pine Bush preservation. Unfortunately, only two other Council members heard what she said. The re-zoning was approved. Score another one for the developers and against the Pine Bush.

published December 2000/January 2001 Newsletter
Last Updated 11/30/00


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