Let Your Voice Be Heard!

Don't Let Them Take Land from Preserve!

by Lynne Jackson

At long last, Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) for the proposed YMCA and St. Peter's Assisted Living facility in Guilderland has been issued. Harder to find than a developer at a Save the Pine Bush dinner, I was fortunate to be able to obtain a copy of part of the DGEIS.

A hearing on the DGEIS will be held at 7:00 on Wednesday, November 5, at the Guilderland Town Hall, located on Western Avenue just past the interection of Route 146 west. I urge all people who are concerned about the future of the Pine Bush Preserve to attend.

There are a number of problems with this proposal. First, this is different than other Pine Bush development proposals in that some land that is already protected as forever wild would be destroyed if this project is built. All other developments ever proposed for the Pine Bush (except the water slide park in Albany), were to be built on privately owned land that was in the Pine Bush ecosystem. Every acre of land that is in the Preserve today has been struggled and fought over. Thousands of people-hours and millions of dollars have gone into creating the existing Pine Bush Preserve. When land is purchased by the taxpayers of the State of New York as forever wild, it should remain forever wild, even if some developer could make more money by taking a piece away.

The YMCA and the St. Peter's Assisted Living Facility will not be located in the Pine Bush Preserve. What is planned to be built in the Preserve is a roadway to make the entrance to the Guilderland Elementary School align with Mercy Care Lane. The roadbed itself, according to the Columbia Development Group (the developers of this project) DGEIS, will take up .69 acres of the Preserve. However, the roadbed will cut off at least 3.5 acres of Preserve from the main Preserve. The Commission has estimated this project will remove 5-10 acres of land from Preserve.

Columbia proposes to mitigate this loss of Preserve land by having a .69 acre parcel, located behind the Guilderland Elementary School, added to the Preserve. This proposed mitigation is ridiculous. The 5-10 acres that would be destroyed by this project are located on prime, expensive real estate on Western Avenue. The proposed piece for mitigation is a land-locked parcel that is under no threat of development and would never be developed.

But, the important factor for us, is not whether the proposed mitigation is fair, but that we must stand firm in saying that no land may be removed from the Preserve for any reason. Removing land from Preserve sets terrible precedents for the Preserve. When the State buys land and sets it aside as forever wild, that is what is meant &emdash; forever wild. It doesn't mean forever wild until someone can come along and make money on it. It means forever wild.

The implications of removing land from Preserve go beyond our Pine Bush. It has implications for all land that the State has purchased as forever wild.

It is important for everyone interested in Pine Bush preservation to either attend the hearing on November 5 or write to Neil Breslin, NYS Senator, Room 808 LOB, Albany NY 12247, 455-2225 or Jack McEneny, Assemblyman Room 604 LOB, Albany, NY 12248, 455-4178 and express your opposition to removing land from the Pine Bush Preserve. We must make our voices heard on this issue.

Printed November, 1997


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