Volunteers Protest Construction of Avila House

ALBANY, NY: Eight o’clock AM on a bitter cold December morning saw a dozen Save the Pine Bush volunteers demonstrating over the destruction of the Pine Bush for the building of Avila House. Avila House is proposed to be built in the rare Pine Bush ecosystem.

The protesters, with signs and a lot of warm clothes, arrived at the Avila House site to find it completely bulldozed of vegetation. As the protesters stood silently on the edge of the road, an official of Teresian House came out to chase them away, complaining that the side of the road was private property (it is not) and that they could not stand there. When the protesters did not move, he waved his cell phone and began making a call.

To make the demonstration move visible, the protesters marched down the road (no sidewalks, everyone had to be careful of the cars!) to the advertising sign for Avila House on the corner of Washington Avenue Extension and Columbia Circle Drive.

Hundreds of cars whizzed by during rush hour, as the protesters held their signs and gave flyers to motorists paused at the stop sign or the light. Most people passing by were supportive. One man even bought hot coffee for all of us (thank you, mysterious coffee bringer!).

Soon, the protesters were greeted by not one, but two police cars. The police officer politely told the protesters to not stand on the median of Washington Avenue Extension because it wasn’t safe, and that it was OK to stand by the Avila House sign. (I was quite impressed with the officers’ quick response to being called, and wish they were so prompt when called for my downtown Albany neighborhood.)

Photos of the protest can be seen on line at http://www.savethepinebush.org/Action/AvilaProtest/index.html.

Printed in the January/February 2003 Newsletter