Save the Pine Bush Asks the Albany Common Council for Justice

Press Release

For Immediate Release: September 8, 2005
For Further Information: please call:
Lynne Jackson at 434-6659

ALBANY, NY — Save the Pine Bush asks that the Albany Common Council pass a resolution tonight to take land the City of Albany acquired from the Nature Conservancy for preservation and dedicate it to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission as required in its permit to operate the landfill. Save the Pine Bush further asks the Council to reject Mayor Jennings proposal to further expand the landfill into the ecologically unique area known as the Pine Bush.

“The Mayor is playing dirty tricks on the Pine Bush and on the citizens of Albany. With his announcement that he will seek to expand the landfill again, he has broken another promise to stop dumping garbage into this rare, unique ecosystem,” said Lynne Jackson, volunteer secretary for Save the Pine Bush. “We have documents showing the City weaseling out of its obligation to preserve this part of the Pine Bush.”

The landfill FEIS states on page 11 “Upon issuance of a permit for the P-4 Project, the City will acquire the existing option, held by The Nature Conservancy, . . .for the 60 acre site . . [known as] Fox Run Estates [mobile home park] . . .with dedication of the undeveloped portion (approximately 40 acres). . . to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, upon closing, and dedication of the developed portion (approximately 20 acres) to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission upon closure of the mobile home park; . . .” [emphasis added]

The City is operating the Landfill without having full-filled this requirement for five years and Save the Pine Bush believes the City is in violation of its permit and should immediately cease dumping.

Dedication of the land to the Commission will preserve the land as forever wild and protect it in perpetuity from any development or destruction.

Not only has the City not dedicated the 40 acres of land as required, the Mayor is calling for expanding the landfill in the 20 acres of land that is specifically required to be preserved, once all of the residents have moved out of the mobile home park in 2015.

Last October, in response to a letter written by the Honorable Dominick Calsolaro to the City Corporation Council, the City’s hired, outside law-firm, Nixon Peabody, LLC., wrote a letter to the Department of Environmental Conservation stating that the parcels of land making up the mobile home park had to be sub-divided before dedication could happen.

Save the Pine Bush today contacted planners in both the Town of Guilderland and the Village of Colonie where the land to be dedicated is located, and inquired about any application the City would have made to sub-divide the property. Both planners stated that they have not been contacted by the City to sub-divide the property. Sub-division of land is a quick and easy process – “Ask any Pine Bush developer, ” said Jackson.

“The letter sent by the City’s outside lawyer last year is a smoke-screen to stall and delay the Department of Environmental Conservation in enforcing the permit,” said Jackson. “They were saying they needed more time to look into sub-division of the land and in the past year, they have not even taken the first step in the process — to call the planners. This proves the City never planned to full-fill its obligations to preserve this important Pine Bush land.”

The City acquired the option to purchase the land from The Nature Conservancy. According to its website, The Nature Conservancy is dedicated to land preservation. “Here the City promised to dedicate this land for preservation, and now the Mayor wants to turn it into a dump? What a dirty trick to play on The Nature Conservancy! I am sure The Nature Conservancy does not sell land to have it made into a dump!” said Jackson.

In the news article, Mayor Jennings said that the City would acquire 20 acres elsewhere to swap for the landfill expansion. “This is inadequate,” said Jackson. “This 20 acres is a bridge or link between the Rensselaer Lake section of the Pine Bush and the main part of the Pine Bush. Without this ecological link, the Lake Rensselaer area becomes an island, cutting it off from the main preserve. Essentially, 300 acres of Pine Bush would be affected.”

“In addition, the Pine Bush is on top of a principal aquifer. The City should stop dumping in the Pine Bush to protect the fragile and beautiful Pine Bush and to protect this important source for clean water,” said Jackson. “Remember, the original landfill expansion destroyed 300 lupine plants and an entire colony of Karner Blue butterflies. The Karner Blues have been declining in population ever since.”

The Pine Bush is a rare ecosystem of pitch pine and scrub oak trees. It is home to the endangered Karner Blue butterfly. There are approximately 5800 acres of Pine Bush ecosystem remaining of the original 58,000 acres. Save the Pine Bush is an all-volunteer organization, dedicated since 1978 to preserving all of the remaining Pine Bush ecosystem.

A principal aquifer is one that has enough volume and flow to be used as a municipal water supply.