Everybody Wants One – Preservation Plan Makes Waves

by Daniel W. Van Riper

With a public flourish, SPB released the Pine Bush Preservation Plan at the first Albany Common Council meeting of the year by presenting a copy to each alderman. Immediately, interested persons and organizations clamored for copies of the plan, including neighboring municipalities, state agencies, county legislators, neighborhood groups, environmentalists and reporters. Demand for copies remains high, along with requests for SPB members to speak.

The Plan calls for $13 million in NYS Environmental Trust Fund money to be set aside for purchase of Pine Bush lands. This sum was set aside to purchase the vast Whitney Estate for the Adirondack Preserve. The Whitney family has decided not to sell the land, leaving the money idle.

Citing recent NYS court decisions, the Plan also calls for an immediate end to zoning changes and development in the Pine Bush. According to the Plan, “There are currently more than a dozen development proposals in various stages for land in the Pine Bush. The land must be purchased now, before more Pine Bush is destroyed by office parks or housing tracts.”

The most important part of the Plan for practical purposes is the listing of parcels in Albany, Guilderland and Colonie that should be acquired for preservation. This is the only comprehensive list of Pine Bush land available, and is already proving to be an invaluable reference.. The properties are identified by tax map number, address, owner and number of acres. Each parcel is then shown by a key-code on a fold-out map.

The listing is based on research done several years ago by Rezsin Adams and Lynne Jackson, who spent an entire summer poring over public records in the three municipalities. The parcels were then plotted out on the SPB trail map by Jerry Mueller, who was able to check the encroachment of development with infrared aerial photographs.

Finally, after numerous discussions by the SPB board to clarify policy, the Plan was published on Lynne’s Macintosh computer. With a clear plastic binder and a cover illustration it looks rather snazzy. Needless to say, this was all done by volunteer labor and expertise. The amount of money needed to buy a comprehensive document like this is unimaginable to a group like SPB, which subsists mostly on individual donations and pours almost all of it’s money into maintaining lawsuits.

The new Mayor of Albany, Jerry Jennings, did not receive his copy until two days after the Aldermen received theirs. When a local reporter called the mayor the morning after the Council meeting, Mr. Jennings could only express bewilderment at being left out. SPB Board members are scheduled to meet with the mayor soon to discuss the Plan, and the City’s role in preservation.

published February/March 94 Newsletter