The Pine Bush Wins! – State Buys Site of Proposed Office Complex

The Pine Bush Wins! – State Buys Site of Proposed Office Complex Save the Pine Bush, You can fight City Hall and win!

The Pine Bush Wins!

State Buys Site of Proposed Office Complex

by Lynne Jackson ALBANY, NY: As a result of a Save the Pine Bush lawsuit, Governor Pataki and Mayor Jennings announced the addition of 46 acres of land to the Pine Bush Preserve. The Rapp Road site of the proposed office complex, Drumlin Fields, is now forever wild. Lewis Oliver filed the lawsuit for Save the Pine Bush against the Common Council of the City of Albany over its approval of the re-zoning of this land for office use.

The addition of this land to the Preserve cost the taxpayers nothing. Valued at $4.2 million, the State traded 19 acres of unused land at the State Office Campus for the 46 acre site.

This idea of a land transfer, to trade a developer for a parcel of land in the Pine Bush for an equivenlent parcel of land outside the Pine Bush, is a brillant solution to the problem of development in the Pine Bush. At the public announcement of the land transfer, Mayor Jerry Jennings stated that he had the idea of a land transfer, had approached the Commissioner of the Office of General Services, who then approached the Governor. It seemed to be a win-win situation for everyone &emdash; the State, the developer, and, of course, the Pine Bush. Save the Pine Bush thanks Mayor Jennings for his foresite and action on this brilliant and creative solution to protecting the Pine Bush.

This parcel had been fought over for several years. Everyone objected to the re-zoning of this land during the hearings on the project. In addition to many residents, individual environmentalists and scientists who opposed the re-zoning, twelve environmental and neighborhood groups registered their oppostion to the project by speaking out at the public hearing or writing letters to the Common Council. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission came out strongly against this re-zoning and backup up thier position with well-researched science.

At the announcement, Governor Pataki stated, “The Pine Bush is really something that is unique to the State of New York right here in the Capital Region. And we have to do more to make sure that the remaining 6,000 acres, as much of it is possible, are preserved.”

It is our hope that the Governor’s support will inspire local government officials to take a stronger stand on protecting the regions most unique environmental resource.

Local governments need to view the Pine Bush not only as an environmental responsibility, but also as an economic opportunity. A healthy Pine Bush will improve the quality of life in the Capital District, which in turn will strengthen the local economy. Also, the Pine Bush has the potential of becoming a tourist attraction which could bring additional dollars to the region. Even more important to the local economy will be directing development to where it belongs; in our downtowns. We’ve witnessed the tax breaks given to developers for building in the Pine Bush. The result being the decline of our downtowns. It’s time to entice the developers back to the City. Offer them tax incentives, clean up brown fields, invest in and build a public transportation system that people will want to use, and at the same time stop subsidizing sprawl in the Pine Bush.

For now, it is a race against time. Local governments are approving almost every single project that is proposed in the Pine Bush. The State cannot purchase the land fast enough to ensure the Pine Bush’s survival under such circumstances. It would certainly be a tragedy if we failed to complete this mission, and also a tremendous waste of tax payer dollars. Hopefully in the future, local planning boards and town councils will practice a land use plan that will be consistent with creating a world class nature preserve.

At the announcement of the land transfer, several government officials spoke – Governor Pataki, Mayor Jennings, Albany Pine Bush Preserve Executive Director Willie Janeway, to name a few spoke about the transfer and the importance of Pine Bush preservation. However, not a single government official acknowledged the contribution of Save the Pine Bush to this historic land transfer – filing suit to stop the bulldozers. To rectify this ommission, Lynne Jackson ran up to the podium just as the speakers ended to mention the lawsuit and to profusely thank the Governor and Mayor for this historic land transfer. Though when the officials realized they could not diswade Ms. Jackson from speaking, and turned their backs on her to walk away, by the time she repeated thank you about twenty times, they turned around and smiled at her.

Perhaps the most important lesson from this long fight to preserve this parcel of Pine Bush, is that when the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission supports the grass roots, the fight for preservation can be won. The Commission has never taken such a strong stand against a development before, and for once, was in agreement with Save the Pine Bush. And now the land is in Preserve.

  published May/June 2000 Newsletter
Last Updated 5/23/00

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