Save the Pine Bush Sues Crossgates Mall

ALBANY, NY — Save the Pine Bush and the Alliance for Environmental Renewal filed suit February 2 in the United States District court for the Northern District of New York against Pyramid Crossgates over its violation of its waste water permit for the past three years. Pyramid Crossgates has a State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (“SPDES”) Permit 0107930 to discharge sodium chloride into the Krum Kill. During the winter months for the past three years, Crossgates has exceeded its permit limits.

Save the Pine Bush (SPB) and the Alliance for Environmental Renewal (AER) filed intent to sue 60 days ago.

SPB and AER are asking the court to stop Pyramid Crossgates from discharging pollution into the Krum Kill in violation of its SPDES permit; to allow SPB and AER to test any discharge from the facility; to order Pyramid Crossgates to pay civil penalties of $25,000 per day, per violation or $750,000 per month of violations; and other remedies.

By pursuing this litigation, SPB and AER send a message to Crossgates that water pollution is not acceptable and such serious violations will not be tolerated.

Hotel Proposal by Pyramid Crossgates

In a related development, Pyramid Crossgates is seeking permission to construct a hotel on approximately 4 acres of land contiguous to the Karner Blue Butterfly hill. In 1998, Pyramid Crossgates illegally bulldozed this parcel and spread gravel on it for a parking lot.

More than a dozen Save the Pine Bush members and supporters attended the February 2 Common Council meeting. Several gave impassioned speeches about the importance of preserving the Pine Bush. The youngest speaker, Anne Sombor, age 12 and a student at the Albany Academy of Girls, received an ovation from the public.

SPB asked the Common Council for three things: first, to post-pone consideration of this project until Crossgates comes into compliance with its SPDES permits. Crossgates has had years to fix the water pollution problem; before they are allowed to make any more money from the Pine Bush, they must comply with the law.

Second, SPB asked the Common Council require Crossgates to put the site back to its original condition before they illegally bull-dozed it. The Common Council cannot let developers bulldoze rare ecosystems, and then ask that they be allowed to develop the land. This is an extremely bad precedent.

Third, SPB asked the Common Council to call for a scoping session before the Environmental Impact Statement is written to evaluate the environmental impacts of this proposal. This proposal will have major impacts on the Karner Blue and the Pine Bush. The Council needs to evaluate all of the impacts. A scoping session would allow the public to enumerate all of the environmental impacts that need to be addressed by the Environmental Impact Statement. Without a scoping session, important environmental impacts may be missed, and the public would not have an opportunity to comment on those issues until after the Environmental Impact Statement is written.

Background on SPDES Violations

The exceedences of salt are due to the salting of the parking lots surrounding Crossgates during the winter months. Because Crossgates decided to build the maul catering only to car traffic, it has large parking lots to maintain. Had Crossgates advocated for better mass transit to its site, and made good accommodations for bicycle and pedestrian access, they would not need to pollute the Krum Kill with salt.

The construction of the proposed hotel with its paved parking lots and snow clearance, will inevitably cause an even greater discharge of sodium chloride.