Speak Out for Pine Bush Preservation

Needing to be rewarded for denying patrons the right to wear anti-war T-shirts and for building a shopping maul on Karner Blue butterfly habitat, the Pyramid Company sought $600 million in tax incentives from the State of New York.

Pyramid was seeking tax breaks and cash from the New York state to expand Crossgates Maul’s cousin, Carousel Center in Syracuse, into the biggest resort/retail complex in North America.

According to a June 10 article in the Times Union, “a senior senator from Syracuse, Republican John DeFrancisco, said the project, known as Destiny USA, is full of mystery and he questioned whether the state should be committing more than $575 million in tax credits plus $25 million in cash to The Pyramid Cos.’ proposed expansion of the Carousel Mall into a resort, entertainment and retail destination. . . .

“ Pyramid is lobbying heavily for the project, spending at least $50,000 a month on some major lobbyists, including $30,000 a month alone to Patricia Lynch, a former Assembly aide close to Democrats; $15,000 a month to John O’Mara; and $5,000 a month to the firm run by Kieran Mahoney and Tom Doherty, all of whom are close to Pataki. . .

“ The company wants $52.5 million a year in tax credits for 10 years, then smaller sums for another four years, DeFrancisco said, plus $25 million in cash for a state tourism center previously authorized by the Legislature.

“ Pyramid could already take the tax credits because the project is in an Empire Zone. But the state is considering absolutely guaranteeing them no matter what happens with the tax break program in the future. . .”

The proposed $2.2 billion, 3.2 million-square-foot expansion to the 1.6 million-square-foot Carousel Mall could include a hotel of up to 20,000 rooms and the project sponsors speculate that 122,000 permanent jobs will be created.

Pyramid even hired former Republican Senator Alfonse D‘Amato. Worried about being out-lobbied by Pyramid, Wilmorite Maul of Rochester hired former state Republican party chairman, Bill Powers to lobby for them. Tens of thousands of dollars have been spent this year by both mauls, battling over tax incentives.

Fortunately, cooler heads in the legislature prevailed, and the tax incentives did not pass. Pyramid spokes people said that they will have to reconsider whether or not they can go ahead and build this mega-retail-hotel-sprawl complex without funds from the State.

Taxpayers would be much better off if the State would use its funds to encourage small businesses and inner-city revitalization, instead of giving away huge amounts of tax credits to rich maul developers.