Common Council Sells Out – Albany Bows To Columbia Estates

Common Council Sells Out
Albany Bows To Columbia Estates

June/July 1995

By Daniel Van Riper

In a stunning return to the politics of back-room deals, the City of
Albany Common Council by a near-unanimous vote gave the stub of Pitch
Pine Road East to the rapacious mega-developers Columbia Estates for
a mere $75,000. The sale effectively cuts off public access to that
portion of the Pine Bush preserve.
According to the Albany City Record, the Alderman voted 13 – 0 to
approve the sell out. Aldermen Sharon Ward, Carol Wallace, and Keith
St. John, all of whom have publicly expressed support for Pine Bush
preservation in the past, were part of the giveaway. Only Michael
Brown abstained.

Especially disturbing is that Columbia Estates, which is controlled
by notorious Pine Bush profiteers Barry, Bette, & Led Duke,
purchased nearby land in 1992, and sold half of it the very same day
for a profit of $241,000. Across Washington Ave. Ext., Walmart paid
an average of $288,000 per acre for prime Pine Bush land. In
addition, Walmart gave the Pine Bush Commission $200,000 in exchange
for 7/10ths of an acre of Pine Bush owned by the City.

There is only speculation as to why otherwise intelligent and
informed aldermen would participate in this suspicious deal. They
have repeatedly cited municipal finance problems as the reason for
making one shot sales of city resources. But this argument is
specious at best. New office buildings on the outskirts of Albany
need city services such as sewer, water, police and fire protection,
and road maintenance.
Also, new office and upscale housing developments draw businesses and
cash away from downtown Albany. Workers and residents tend to spend
their cash in other communities nearby. These developments may end up
costing the city much more than they bring in. No study has ever been
done by the City of Albany of the financial impact of promoting

The Common Council ignored pleas to stop the sale, from Save the Pine
Bush, the independent Daily Gazette newspaper, and the Pine Bush
Commission, which offered to buy the land for preserve. The actual
approval was quietly slipped into the agenda on April 3rd, but was
not announced by the City until June 6th, when Mayor Jennings signed
the bill into law. Presumably it was kept quiet to avoid public
outrage. The City will receive only $50,000 from the deal, the other
$25,000 going to the Commission.

Back to SPB Fights Index

Vegetarian Lasagna Dinner
Pine Bush Hike

Current Newsletter

Save the Pine Bush

Virtual Photo Exhibit 

Action Alerts

Volunteer Nights

Articles in Date Order


Articles by Subject

 Save the Pine Bush Home Email Save the Pine Bush