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Mayor Jennings' Bankrupt Pine Bush Policy

And Loss of Words Exposed

by John Wolcott

Should anyone concerned with preserving the environment vote to re-elect Jerry Jennings for the Mayor of Albany at the next mayoral election? I don't think so. Jerry Jennings was quoted in the Gazette as claiming that he has supported a policy of "containment" in the Pine Bush. I suppose that Mayor Jennings was in a panic to offset bad press over Save the Pine Bush's lawsuit against the Common Council so he used the wrong term.

Mayor Jennings has not followed a policy of "containment" in the Pine Bush. Such a policy is unapplicable to the Pine Bush anyway. "Containment" it turns out, is a technical term used in urban planning for a strictly urbanist policy of containing development within an already existing urban core, or, at the most, building outward only in the very edge of such a core. This is a pro-environmental policy which has, lately, been improved upon in some places by the addition of "Urban Growth Boundaries". This term that absolutely terrifies all realty and builders associations and all conservative city administration across the country, be they Republican or Democrat as in Albany. An Urban Growth Boundary means that only a limited distance outward from an existing core of a city can be given over to any new and contiguous development.

To see what "containment" actually means, all that Jerry Jennings had to do was to look into policy position papers generated by Albany's now defunct Urban Removal Office. This office's official non-position on an urban master plan was that "if" the city were to adopt one, we have three basic concept choices:

1. "Expansion" to fill the city with development from boundary to boundary.

2. "Containment" as defined above.

3. "Balance" a mixture of development and preservation throughout all areas of the city.

In actual fact, Albany has never officially adopted any of these choices, but has preferred to leave things wide open over the years to the benefit of developers. In maintaining this policy of non-committal, Albany has de facto, employed choice number one, "Expansion" out from the urban core, while allowing the urban core to suffer. The only reason any preservation has taken place over the years is because of legal action by Save the Pine Bush and others. Mayor Jennings, in reality, has always as Mayor, supported development of every single undeveloped parcel, outside the Pine Bush Preserve, in Albany.

published July/August 1999 Newsletter
Last Updated 7/18/99


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