And Other News
By Daniel Van Riper
300 Washington Ave. Extension! Again! Charlie Touhey is having legislation introduced into the City of Albany Common Council, probably to be sponsored by 15th Ward Alderman Nick Collucio, to rezone that piece of land next to the Dunes development. Charlie seems to be trying by force of will to destroy this parcel and make bucks on his speculation at all costs to his reputation. Certainly, his obsession is making him no friends either publically or inside the city government. There will be no hearing, but if you want to speak out against this proposal on Thursday, Jan 22 (not Monday, which is Martin Luther King's birthday), then call the City Clerk at 434-5087 before noon on the 22nd to reserve your right to speak to the Common Council at City Hall at 7 PM. Supposedly, they only allow six people to speak, so the Clerk may tell you not to come. Show up anyway and demand to be heard, harass your alderperson, lecture reporters on their shoddy coverage, start a ruckus or whatever it takes to let Charlie know he won't get away with it.
Vacancy Rates High By the way, we found in our clippings an article from the locally owned Daily Gazette from June of 97, by reporter Tim Kane. In the first half of 1997 the vacancy rate in office buildings in the suburbs, which includes the western panhandle of Albany, stood at an outrageous 24%. Almost one in four offices stand vacant. Meanwhile, Class A office space in downtown Albany stands at 6.8%. We don't have the latest figures, but we understand that the vacancies in the suburbs are growing. So why is anything being built in the Pine Bush? And if Charlie Touhey wants to build offices, why doesn't he build them in downtown Albany where they're needed?
They'll Be Voting Soon Brianna Asbury, a junior at Shaker High School in Colonie, collected 182 signatures from her fellow students on a petition demanding that the Town of Colonie purchase 1,000 acres of Pine Bush in Colonie and set it aside as preserve. She marched into a Colonie Town Board meeting on Dec. 4 with Colonie Spotlight reporter Kathryn Caggianelli at her heels and was taken very seriously by the politicians present, particularly town supervisor Mary Brizzell. According to a page one article in the Spotlight, Ms. Asbury told the board, "The land is sacred to us." Referring to the process of development and approvals, she said, "It's a vicious cycle and we want to put an end to it so our grandchildren can see the Pine Bush as beautiful, if not more beautiful than it is now." Ms. Asbury is a serious young lady who means business. Keep your eye on her.
Jerry Phibbs Again The Dec. 4 meeting at which Brianna Asbury raised a ruckus heard millionaire Jerry Phibbs propose building 118 houses over Pine Bush at 2970 Curry Road. Meetings about this proposal were held last summer also, and were attended by Save the Pine Bush members who objected. At the time, Mr. Phibbs claimed economic hardship, saying this development would be his retirement fund. Perhaps Mr. Phibbs is retiring to Monte Carlo? The Colonie board authorized "taking a closer look" at his proposal, and Save the Pine Bush is also watching it closely.