Love Of Money

The Root Of All...?

By Daniel Van Riper

That's All? Sheesh. The shoddily built retail travesty known as Crossgates Mall is squawking over paying their fair share of taxes to the town of Guilderland. Recently, the mall doubled in size, an operation which cut into the famous Karner Blue Butterfly hill that was set aside as a condition for putting the big money mall there in the first place. The old half sized mall was tax assessed by the town of Guilderland at a lousy $115 million. That doesn't mean Crossgates pays that much, that's just the amount the taxes are based on. Guilderland has raised the assesment to $190 million. After all the mall is twice as big as it used to be.

Well, Crossgates is in court trying to lower the assessment to $125 million. Apparently the size doubling only raised its value $10 million. Guilderland may be in big trouble because if they lose this case, they will have to pay Pyramid a whopping tax refund.

Crossgates is owned, operated, and milked by the Pyramid Corporation, which is under indictment downstate for bribery and has built quite a reputation for vicious behavior. (See the Pyramid article elsewhere in this issue.)

More Money Willie Janeway, director of the Albany Pine Bush Management Commission spoke at the Jan. 24th lasagna dinner at First Presbyterian Church in Albany, and the main topic was money. We all went easy on him, and didn't even ask him about the Commission's past habit of trading pieces of the Pine Bush to developers for cash (the Commission called this "mitigation"), a practice they appear to have stopped for the time being.

Mr. Janeway was there to encourage us to lobby our state political representatives for money for the Pine Bush, and to let us know that lobbying in past years has been very effective. Of prime importance, according to Mr. Janeway, is the $25 million that quasi-governor Pataki has looted out of the environmental budget and is trying to distribute, via a "special category" called "State Environmental Compliance, Solid Waste Section", to other state agencies that have had their budgets gutted by the very same Pataki. Currently, these funds have not been assigned to specific projects, and he suggested that it is imperative that local citizens begin asking pointed questions about this anti-environmental maneuver, and try to get some of this money for Pine Bush preservation.

At the moment, Mr. Janeway told the crowd, the owners of some 380 acres of Pine Bush with a market value of $3-4 million are ready to sell their land to the Commission for preserve. All that's needed is cash.

Lots Of Money Willie Janeway also revealed that he met in January with the Guilderland Town Council, and they told him about the mysterious Pine Bush escrow account. He found out that there is currently about $400,000 just sitting there, waiting for someone to figure out how to spend it.

This money comes from a variety of sources, primarily "mitigation fees", which is a nice term for cash payments in exchange for permission to destroy the Pine Bush. We hadn't heard about this money in quite a while, we're glad it hasn't been absorbed by the Guilderland party political machine. Surely the Commission would love to get their hands on it, if they do, then they should be held publicly accountable for every penny.

Printed Mar/Apr 96


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