Save the Pine Bush Common Council Muzzles Hearing Pine Bush Residents Outraged

Common Council Muzzles Hearing
Pine Bush Residents Outraged

by Daniel W. Van Riper, Mar./Apr. 92

Chanting, “We want to speak! We want to speak!” some twenty or so
residents from the Pinehurst and Dunes developments in the Pine Bush
expressed outrage at an attempt by the Albany Common Council
leadership to prevent them from voicing their concerns over the
proposed Woodlands at Pine Ridge office development.
Most of the time at the Jan. 6th environmental impact hearing was
taken up by representatives of the developer, and a few short
dissenting opinions by representatives of SPB. Embattled President
Pro-Tempore Joseph Buechs (who may be ousted by the time this goes to
press) then proposed that the hearing be ended at 9:00 PM so that the
Council could “get on with important business.” Council President
Stephen McArdle seconded the motion, and a majority of the Aldermen
approved it by voice vote.

Sixth ward Alderman Sharon Ward objected strongly to this sleazy
maneuver. “We are paid to be here.” She said. “These people are
volunteers. They have had to make time and find baby sitters so that
they could attend this meeting. If necessary, this Council should
stay until three in the morning, until everyone has had their
The “important business” turned out to be the presentation of an
award to City Clerk Pamela Alley in honor of her recently having a

A corporate entity called Empire State Thrift Services Corp. wants to
level 80 acres of prime Pine Bush located at 350 Washington Ave.
Extension, directly across the road from the Pinehurst development.
This parcel, which is the only link between the two major parts of
already preserved Pine Bush, is extremely vital to the survival of
the Pine Bush. The proposal calls for four massive office buildings,
equivalent in size to sixteen supermarkets.

Fourteen years ago, SPB won a court battle over this same parcel,
which was known then as Pine Circle. Although this land has never
received protection from the State or the Nature Conservancy, no
further developments have been proposed until recently.

Most of the outraged residents made a point of returning to the
reconvened meeting a full two weeks later on Jan. 23rd. They were
forced to sit through another hearing until 9:20 PM, and then were
given only five minutes apiece to speak. At the first meeting, the
developers were given nearly an hour and a half to make their
presentation, including a full hour to their engineering consultant.


by Daniel W. Van Riper, Mar./Apr. 92

Many of the residents who attended the Jan. 6th Environmental Impact
hearings over the proposed Woodlands at Pine Ridge office development
were there at the written invitation of Albany Mayor Thomas Whalen.
Once in the Common Council chambers, the residents were shut out of
the meeting by Buechs and McArdle, both of whom are known to take
orders from Mayor Whalen.

Why would Mayor Whalen pull such a slimy trick? Residents of
Pinehurst and Dunes are known to have strong feelings about the
direction of development around their homes. They definitely do not
want commercial buildings ringing their properties, along with the
attendant traffic, noise and pollution which would inevitably

The idea apparently was to give these folks an outlet for their
feelings, while making sure that they have no opportunity to make any
real impact on the city’s approval process. In a subtle, smiling way
this was intended as a demonstration of power, that a small group of
neighbors can’t fight the unshakable will of the monolith City Hall.
Mayor Whalen and his allies on the Common Council behave like a bunch
of Republicans. They routinely make deals with irresponsible big
money developers out to make a quick buck, while showing contempt for
hard-working taxpaying citizens who want at least to be heard by
their public servants.

Time to wake up, Mr. Whalen. The O’Connell Machine, of which you are
the present steward, has stayed in power since the 1920’s by
providing the people of Albany with what they’ve needed and wanted.
Their needs and wants have changed dramatically, and if you don’t
learn to provide, then you will find yourself a powerless
figurehead…or out of a job.

Editor’s note: The Woodlands at Pine Ridge development proposal
was never approved. This land is absolutely essential for the
survival of the Pine Bush. SPB vowed to bring all of its resources to
bear if a development is approved for this land.

This development was the last one ever proposed for this property.
The State of New York purchased it and added it to the Pine Bush
preserve in December, 1994.

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