Friends of the Mahicantuck Save 1011 #SAVE1011 Friends of the Mahicantuck Save 1011 Protecting Indigenous land and preserving untouched forest from development along the Hudson River in Troy, NY Learn more Friends of the Mahicantuck Save 1011 #SAVE1011 Friends of the Mahicantuck Save 1011 Protecting Indigenous land and preserving untouched forest from development along the Hudson River in Troy, NY Learn more Friends of the Mahicantuck Save 1011 #SAVE1011 Friends of the Mahicantuck Save 1011 Protecting Indigenous land and preserving untouched forest from development along the Hudson River in Troy, NY Learn more Friends of the Mahicantuck Save 1011 #SAVE1011 Friends of the Mahicantuck Save 1011 Protecting Indigenous land and preserving untouched forest from development along the Hudson River in Troy, NY Learn more Friends of the Mahicantuck Save 1011 #SAVE1011 Friends of the Mahicantuck Save 1011 Protecting Indigenous land and preserving untouched forest from development along the Hudson River in Troy, NY Learn more

URGENT CALL TO ACTION ALERT !!!!


A Coalition of 22 groups insists on full environmental review for second avenue project

A coalition of 22 community groups, Indigenous leaders and organizations deliver a letter to the City of Troy Common Council insisting on a full environmental review for the Second Avenue Project that is a sacred indigenous site located in North Troy, NY. A delegation of the group, joined by Indigenous leaders, will deliver the letter during Thursday night’s city council meeting to call for the protection of the site.

Read the full letter [PDF DOWNLOAD]

Read our press release [PDF DOWNLOAD]

The letter was signed by:

Anthropocene Alliance, Clean Air Coalition of Greater Ravena Coeymans, Cultivated Arts Cooperative, 2nd Street Farm, Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Mahicantuck, Guilderland Coalition for Responsible Growth, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Media Alliance, PTM Foundation, Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation, Redrum M.C., Riverkeeper, Save the Pinebush, Scenic Hudson, Schaghticoke First Nations, Sierra Club Mohawk Hudson Chapter, The Bioreserve, The White Feather Foundation, TAP, Inc. (Troy Architecture Program), Troy Bike Rescue, Troy Democratic Socialists of America, Waterfall Unity Alliance.

URGENT CALL TO ACTION ALERT !!!!

Our Mission

HELP US #SAVE1011

DEFENDING LAND. PRESERVING HISTORY. PROTECTING ENVIRONMENT. SUPPORTING COMMUNITY.

We work to defend the land at 1011 2nd Ave in Troy NY from a proposed large-scale development. This land is a historically and culturally significant site for the Mahican Indigenous Peoples of the Mahicantuck River Valley (now know as the Hudson River Valley). This land — one of the last undeveloped waterfront properties in Troy — also provides a critical access to the water of the Hudson for the local communities, serves as important green space for the community and serves ecological refuge.

Our Role: We support this effort through research, communications, campaign management and organizing expertise. We help mobilize expert testimony, provided outreach material and organized community members and expert participants during public hearings of the city council, planning board and planning commission. 

Friends of the Mahicantuck Logo

I live in Troy and I believe this land parcel is important historically, ecologically and culturally to our region and that it would be a terrible idea to develop it.

Rose M.

Troy Resident

Finding Rare Species at 1011

The Friends of the Mahicantuck took a deep snow walk with Systems Ecologist Dr.David Hunt and local historian and archeologist Don Rittner.
Dr. Hunt located several locations on the property where he found rare Scrub Oak and cataloged at least 17 of the plants, despite the deep snow. The Scrub Oak is also a habitat indicator of the globally rare Buck Moth – which may be nesting on the property as well.

Accountability

Developer Kevin Vandenburgh wants to pave over a historical indigenous site in Lansingburgh,NY – important to the Mahican People. We are holding the City of Troy accountable for their statements of requiring preservation of this site.

Alternative vision for 1011

Sachem Hawkstorm of the Schaghticoke First Nations answers a local resident’s question about how the land at 1011 2nd Ave can be preserved, used and the educational and leadership opportunities it could support for Troy’s youth. Sachem Hawkstorm spoke at the Sanctuary For Independent Media‘s 2020 Water Justice Confluence – this clip is from Day 2 of the Confluence – you can view the full video HERE

CAMPAIGN | Donate To Our Legal Fund

Our Land Protection Fund We are collecting donations for our Land Protection Fund. The fund will be used to:  - cover potential legal action and organizing costs - become part of our efforts to bring this land into long-term preservation with a trust for all indigenous peoples, the public good, as well as the entire community. 
Vision.

OUR KEY GOALS

Preserving the last forest along the hudson river in Troy, NY

1011 2nd Ave is the lasted untouched forested area along the banks of the Hudson River in Troy, NY. This land is home to old growth trees, Bald Eagles and raptors, endangered damsel and dragonflies and provides an important green space as it serves the function of mitigating the heat island effect as our climate continues to change. Learn more about the environmental impacts of 1011 2nd Ave here. 

Creating Connections through education

We aim to provide information now with the hope of saving 1011 2nd, but also with the long term goal of providing educational programs with our efforts to preserve this land – to strengthen community connections to environment, culture and each other.

Protecting an indigenous cultural heritage site

1011 2nd Ave has been known within the indigenous, local and archeological community as an important heritage site for the Mahican people. The site has been studied since the 1800’s, and has been proven to support it’s designation for the National Historical Register.

Providing Community access to the Hudson River

1011 2nd Ave has long been a place of refuge and water access for the Troy community. Learn more about what we envision this land to be and how it can better serve the community through preservation.

From The Blog

News + Stories

Our Questions About the Historical Burden Horseshoe Factory in South Troy

Now that the historical Burden factory is in jeopardy and appears to be poised to be demolished, the Friends of the Mahicantuck seek to provide some general information to the public.

We want to preface this by saying: The current City Council has a tough decision to make. The Burden factory is in bad shape. At the same time, an alternative site is needed for a property owner to allow for the construction of the Industrial Road in South Troy.

Our group is not a historical preservation advocacy group and we do not have the expertise to assess if this property is beyond saving or not. However, we do want to share the currently available information about the current proposal, and articulate some of our own questions as the future of this property is determined.

Our main concern is that the public did not learn about this proposal regarding one of the city’s most significant historical sites early-on — which is why we seek to share some information on the issue.

BACKGROUND: The Henry Burden built horseshoe factory

The 1861 Henry Burden built horseshoe steam-powered factory in South Troy is a crucial part of Troy’s history. Between 1861 and 1865 an estimated 70% of the horseshoes used by the Union Army were made here, right in Troy.

Michael Barrett is the Director of the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway. At a recent City Council meeting he described the building: “That property contains one of what I consider to be the most historically vital buildings in our industrial history”.

However, the site has seen significant neglect and is in a bad condition, including severe structural issues that are costly to reconcile. Remediation needs and potential liabilities make saving this site additionally costly.

PARALLELS TO THE HISTORICAL SACRED FOREST IN LANSINGBURGH

The City of Troy proposes to transfer the city-owned National Register eligible property into private ownership as it seeks to construct an Industrial Road impacting a private property. The land trade, according to statements during the September City Council meeting, is ought to enable the construction of the South Troy Industrial Road by facilitating the relocation of an industrial business.

This proposal comes, as the Troy City Council claims that it has no way to save a National Register eligible landmark in North Troy — the Historical Sacred Forest — because it is on private property. Advocates have long pointed to the city-owned Leonard hospital as one of many potential alternative sites for the proposed development — a potential solution that could help save a National Register eligible landmark.

How come that the City of Troy can find creative solutions in advancing an infrastructure project, helping a company relocate their operations, but apparently cannot bring the same creativity to saving a nationally important landmark in North Troy?

YEARS OF NEGLECT AND THE LOSS OF HISTORICAL TREASURES IN TROY

The South Troy historical landmark appears all but set to be forever demolished. The reasons are complex: In city ownership since 1997, this building was left to wither in the elements of nature. Today it is structurally unstable, while also severely contaminated.

After decades of neglect — since 1997 under City oversight — remediation and restoration costs are estimated to be a substantial $55 Million USD.

The City of Troy has done an outstanding job in preserving some major parts of its history, particularly in downtown Troy. The hard work of Troy’s Historical Society cannot be understated.

Yet, many other historically significant sites have been lost to development over decades of at times highly controversial council decisions, or as properties were left abandoned for decades. The neglect of historical landmarks, and their loss to development in particular, is of course particularly true for the City’s Indigenous historical and cultural resources.

Diamond Rock is a prime example where a unique Indigenous cultural site and one of Troy’s historic recreational areas was lost to construct a large-scale development. Other examples are “Uncle Sam’s house”, the raill station, the Freihofer Building. Not all those losses of historical buildings are, of course, the direct consequence of City Council decisions, and rather a reflection of city budget limitations in combination with a reliance on private initiatives to save individual buildings. Others are, however, consequences of city decisions over the course of decades.

Often, historical landmarks were lost in the City of Troy despite the hard work of the Historical Society and other historical preservation groups.

The case of the Burden site in South Troy is yet another example of years of neglect of a historical gem. However, in this case, the property sat abandoned for decades while in city ownership.

The building was transferred into ownership of the City of Troy in 1997. In these three decades of City ownership the historical landmark was left to further deteriorate into what is not a potentially lost building — and the potential loss of a piece of Troy’s role in our nation’s history.

TO BUILD AN INDUSTRIAL ROAD, MUST HISTORY GIVE WAY?

At the last general meeting of the City Council in September, this property unexpectedly (for the public) became subject of a major City Council decision.

The City pursues plans to construct a major Industrial Road in South Troy.

According to the City records, this road would directly impact a building that is currently owned a local gravel company. The firm uses that property to park their gravel trucks and conduct some of its operations out of it. In order to give way to the Industrial Road, the proposal was introduced to relocate that company to the historic Burden horseshoe factory in South Troy.

The idea in a nutshell is to relocate the gravel trucks and operation to the uniquely historical building — likely demolishing the historical structures — in order to allow construction of the Industrial Road in South Troy.

Granted, the current City Council finds itself confronted with a difficult decision. Remediation and restoration costs are substantial. $55 Million Dollars is not nothing. Also, it is not the current City Council’s fault that the property was left to the elements, making it a potential liability for the City in its current state.

However, important questions are still open and should be clarified before moving fowrad.

Importantly, we do not know based on the currently available information, what steps were taken to save this historical landmark since it is came into city ownership.

  • What steps were taken to preserve this building, if any? What responsibility has the City of Troy for the current state of the property?
  • What steps have the City Council and City administration undertaken to evaluate alternatives that do not lead to the demolition of this landmark, including public-private partnerships, grant-making, and partial or procedural building stabilization, restoration and contamination measures?
  • Will detailed information be made available to the public regarding past property management as well as the evaluation of restoration and preservation pathways, including the analysis that assesses current costs for stabilizing the building?

As the City of Troy likely assessed these and other questions in preparation of the the current proposal to transfer the property, we think that this information should be provided to the public to better understand and support the decision-making surrounding the current proposal.

We reached out to the City of Troy about these questions and will share the information — that can hopefully bring clarity to the public — as we receive it.

WHAT WE ASK FOR IS TRANSPARENCY

The Friends of the Mahicantuck are still reviewing the currently public information. We do have questions, some of which we posted above. In our opinion, it is critical that the City Council provides the public with detailed information on the proposal, the involved parties, as well as the evaluation of alternative approaches regarding the potential preservation of this property ahead of any decision.

We are confident that the City Council has evaluated all options and simply think that this information should be made widely accessible to the public as well. Without this information, it is impossible for the public — including our group — to assess this proposal.

INFORMATION IS PUBLICLY AVAILABLE HERE:

Details on Page 33: https://www.troyny.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/CCRegularAgenda090921A.pdf?fbclid=IwAR31qnqLWNtl4dSOxNSDYW1TlCGtOv0plWZwU03nS0a26aMeRaCMnlDJwTg

City Council to squander yet another piece of Troy history?

From the southern-most part to the northern-most part of the City of Troy — the Troy City Council is pursuing plans that threaten to destroy some of the most significant parts of our City’s history.
Yet another historic site — one of the most vital in our city’s industrial history — is under threat — this time in South Troy. The reason: to build an industrial road. This comes at a time as efforts to save one of the region’s most significant, National Register eligible pre-contact sites is also threatened to be forever lost to a construction project.
At last week’s City Council meeting Michael Barrett, Director of Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway, put it this way: “That property contains one of what I consider to be the most historically vital buildings in our industrial history”

See his statement on the historical significance of the building made at the last City Council meeting (start listening at 23:00):

The building in question is the 1861 Henry Burden built horseshoe steam-powered factory. Betwen 1861 and 1865 an estimated 70% of the horeshoes used by the union army were made.
As part of the proposed construction of the Industrial Road in South Troy, a deal is in the works to swap the land owned by R.J. Valente that part of the road would impact and give them one of the most HISTORIC Iron Works-related properties of the city for their trucks and operations instead — the Sperry Buildings.
While this building is in significantly deteriorated state and requires some significant work including remediation, its historic significance — and potential for reinvestment — cannot be understated.

 

Its current state is a reflection of a long history of disregard for historically significance property to let fall apart (as long as that history is not downtown Troy).

 

However, the current City Council is not at fault for the current state of the building. This presents the council with a difficult decision: Can the historic site be saved, at least in parts? Or is it too far gone — and why did the property fall in such disrepair?
In regards to our own advocacy to save the forest at 1011 it also raises the question:

 

How come that a land swap is possible for constructing an Industrial Road, likely causing the demolition of a historic building, pursuing a similar solution — e.g. offering city-owned land (such as the Leonard Hospital site) to save the historic land at 1011 2nd Avenue — is not possible?

 

Yet, we hear some on the Troy City Council says there is nothing they can do to save the private land that is the Sacred Forest.
Friends of the Mahicantuck Save 1011

Contact the City of Troy NOW

RIGHT NOW: The most important thing is to keep the pressure with the city!

CLICK HERE TO SEND AN EMAIL NOW (opens draft email in your email browser)

STEPS:

  1. Use the text below to send it to the City of Troy (or click here – opens draft email in your email browser)
  2. Add your name/edit the information as indicated in the text.
  3. Send the emails to Mayor Patrick Madden, City Council President Carmella Mantello, the entire City Council and the Planning Commission.

Contact Information
Mayor Patrick Madden
Tel: (518) 279 – 7130

E-Mail: Patrick.Madden@troyny.gov

Council President Carmella Mantello
Tel: (518) 281 – 6582

E-Mail: Carmella.Mantello@troyny.gov

City Council

E-Mail: citycouncil@troyny.gov

Planning Commissioner Steven Strichman

Tel: (518) 279 – 7392

E-Mail: Steven.Strichman@troyny.gov

Planning Commission
Tel: (518) 279 – 7392

E-Mail: James.Rath@troyny.gov

 

TEMPLATE FOR LETTER:

TO: Patrick.Madden@troyny.gov; Carmella.Mantello@troyny.gov; citycouncil@troyny.gov; Steven.Strichman@troyny.gov; James.Rath@troyny.gov;

BCC (optional): FriendsOfTheMahicantuck@gmail.com

SUBJECT: PROTECT AND PRESERVE THE SACRED SITE AT 1011 2nd AVE

Dear

Mayor Patrick Madden, City Council President Carmella Mantello, Members of the Troy City Council, Planning Commissioner Steven Strichman, and Members of the Planning Commission

My name is [insert name]. I live in the  [insert city/town/village].

I am writing to you to oppose the requested zoning change for 1011 2nd Avenue (Tax Parcel 70.64-1-1).

The “Sacred Forest” at 1011 2nd Avenue is the city’s last untouched forest along the Hudson River as well as a nationally significant (National Register eligible) indigenous heritage site with artifacts dating back to 1500-3000 B.C. The indigenous peoples maintain ties to this land that grew over 5000 years. For them, this is sacred land. It is unique for its history and cultural heritage.

The “Sacred Forest” is also unique for its ecology.  There are several county-rare plant species present on this land, some of which are habitat indicators that make the presence of globally rare species likely (the scrub oak as an indicator for the globally rare buck moth, for example).

As the last natural forest of its kind it provides critical ecosystem services to a community located in a DEC designated “Potential Environmental Justice Area” (requiring amongst other a full EAF as part of SEQRA, as established in DEC CP 29 — Section E). Its destruction would be an incredible loss for us all. The loss of critical ecosystem services would disproportionately harm the local community of the Potential Environmental Justice Area.

Changing the zoning to accommodate a known project prior to the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process is segmentation ( Kirk-Astor Drive Neighborhood Ass’n. v. Town Board of Town of Pittsford, 106 A.D.2d 868, 869, 483 N.Y.S.2d 526, 528 (4th Dep’t 1984)).

A zoning change should be included as a consideration in the project’s Environmental Assessment Form (EAF) if it moves forward with its environmental review. Additionally, a change in the zoning to allow a different use than what is stated in the 2018 “Realize Troy” Comprehensive Plan would require an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan, and should be indicated as a “discretionary action” alongside the rezoning in the full EAF.

During three public hearings the public provided more than eight hours of testimony in opposition to the rezoning, alongside numerous written submissions, expert testimonies and reports. The public is united in its opposition to approve the rezoning of this property to make way for a 240 unit housing development.

As public officials it is your responsibility to listen to your constituents.  Considering our  clear position across party lines alongside the historical, archeological, cultural and ecological significance of this sacred  land, and its being  located in a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) “Potential Environmental Justice Area”, the planning commission and the city must make the protection and preservation of this land its highest priority.

Considering the issues of segmentation, inconsistencies with the comprehensive plan and process requirements established in SEQR, the Planning Commission must recommend against rezoning at this time for all of the reasons stated.

[Optional: Personal paragraph of relationship to the land and why you think it is important that this land is protected]

Thank you.

[Name]

[City/Town/Village]

[Date]

Finding Rare Species at 1011

This past week, following a snow storm that dropped nearly 3ft of snow on the Capital Region, The Friends of the Mahicantuck met up with Systems Ecologist Dr. David Hunt and former archeologist and local historian extraordinaire Don Rittner at 1011 to explore the ecology of the land. Dr. Hunt has done extensive work in the past in this area – extending up to Pleasantdale, and had advised us before meeting, of unique ecosystems here. Sure enough, despite the deep snow – Dr. Hunt found about 17 rare Scrub Oak plants strewn along the property – indicating that there could be more buried under snow along with rare regional specific flora of this Rocky Summit Pitch Pine community. Additionally, Scrub Oak is a habitat indicator of the globally rare Buck Moth which could be nesting on this site as well. He also found Dogbane and Shadbush during out walk, stating that in the Spring and Summer more research should be done on the site to better catalog the rare species that call this land home. 

Exploring 1011 in deep snow with Systems Ecologist Dr.David Hunt and his son.
Dr.Hunt examining some Prairie Grasses at the highest point on 1011. He also found additional species and samples closer to the waters edge along the shale cliffside.
The newly frozen Hudson River from the highest point at 1011
Historian Don Rittner joined us as well and shared many stories of this land and of Lansingburgh during our visit.

As we descended from the highest point on the property that offers a beautiful view of the currently frozen Hudson River, down closer to the waters edge, Don and Dr.Hunt discovered a small rock outcrop poking out from the snow along the shoreline. This rock is Chert – the material that the Indigenous people that lived on and used this land, utilized in the creation of arrowheads.  As we walk and learn more about the land’s history – the discovery of settlements and Indigenous burial sites discovered just a few hundred feet away on this side of the river and additional settlements across the river – we can’t help but think that the land at 1011 served as more than just a factory for arrowheads. The topography of the land, the proximity to other sites nearby, its access to the Hudson and nearby Mohawk River and it’s lookout point suggests that this area served a larger purpose for it’s Indigenous stewards. 

Dr.Hunt and Don examining the Chert found along the waters edge.
Areas around these root systems were covered in animals tracks. We believe we spotted several fox dens here along the waters edge.
A close up of the Scrub Oak that Dr. Hunt found in several locations on 1011
Entering the forest at 1011 – the snow was quite deep 🙂

Despite the deep snow blanketing 1011, the land revealed to us some of her many secrets.  We can only imagine what else we can learn once the Spring arrives and the plants return to their Summer glory. We do know – given the discoveries we made this week – that more extensive identification and cataloging of this unique ecosystem needs to be done and that to destroy it with a rezoning, that would allow for it to be built upon and decimated, would lend to an unrecoverable loss for this neighborhood, for the environment and for future generations to discover, explore and learn from. The land at 1011 can provide year round opportunities for exploration, education and and mind/body connections to our natural resources. Please help us #Save1011 for our community now, and for generations to come.

Press Release | Troy To Exclude Members Of Indigenous Community From Speaking At Public Meeting

PRESS RELEASE: SEPTEMBER 08 2020: TROY TO EXCLUDE MEMBERS OF INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY FROM SPEAKING AT PUBLIC MEETING

TROY, NY:  Troy City Council About to Exclude Indigenous Leaders from
Speaking at Public Meeting About 240-unit Apartment-Development
Threatening National Register Eligible Mahican Cultural Site
The rules as they are presently written, are not only inconsistent with NYS Open Meetings Law, they also act in general excluding to peoples who maintain close ancestral ties to these lands and who lived on this lands long before the City of Troy was founded.
It is for these reasons that we request the Troy City Council and the Administration to revoke the residency requirement for all future public meetings of public bodies — to comply with the law, and to no longer exclude the original custodians of these lands.”
Ahead of Thursday’s City Council meeting, the Troy community coalition  “Friends of the Mahicantuck” urges Troy City Council and City Council President Carmella Montello to lift restrictions on speaking rules during public meetings.
“Allowing only city residents to speak at a public meeting excludes indigenous communities and their leaders from speaking at this meeting. This is particularly problematic, as the city council will act on a resolution regarding a planned development which will cause the destruction of a National Register eligible site of historical and cultural significance to tribes of the Mahican peoples, including the Schaghticoke First Nations, Lenape and the Munsee Nations.”
Artifacts at a local site in Troy, at 1011 2nd Aave, date back to 1500-3000 BC. Planned development of 240 apartment units in six three-story-buildings puts the site at risk of destruction.
“It seems particularly cynical to insist on these rules, as the City of Troy is negotiating the future of such a critically important site of indigenous culture and history that spans thousands of years”,the Friends of the Mahicantuck explain in a statement.
The “Friends of the Mahicantuck” advocate for the protection of the land, and fight a rezoning request necessary for the development to move forward — something that they say is a “clear case of spot zoning”. The group also advocates for the city to actively work with the developer on finding a better suited alternative site at one of the many abandoned buildings and lots in direct vicinity of the land they seek to protect, advocating for a common sense solution that works for everyone.
The Troy City Council is set to vote on a resolution advancing the development on Thursday, September 10th, but only allows Troy residents to speak. This restriction is inconsistent with New York State Open Meetings Law. The “Friends of the Mahicantuck”, who work with leaders of local indigenous community as well as local residents and community organizations, urge the Council President and the administration of the City of Troy to remove this restriction for the upcoming and all future public meetings held by any public body of the City of Troy.
For more information on the development, the land protection initiative, the upcoming City Council meeting, and the Friends of the Mahicantuck’s advocacy for a “common sense solution”, please refer to our previous press release from September 04 2020.

 

OPEN LETTER SUBMITTED TO THE TROY CITY COUNCIL AND CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT CARMELLA MANTELLO ON SEPTEMBER 8 2020:

Dear City Council President Carmella Mantello,

Dear Members of the City Council,
We request that the following statement also be entered into the meetings for the meeting on September 10th.
We are writing you regarding the posted rule that members of the public may only speak upon registering prior to city council meetings, and that only residents of the city of Troy may speak at said meeting.
We are reaching out to you, as we are concerned about this rule for several reasons.
First, we are concerned that this will prevent indigenous leaders from speaking. 
The indigenous community has ties to the land in Lansingburgh, which is on the agenda for consideration in RES 91, from speaking.
This is outrageous as, as Planning Committee Chair Anasha Cummings rightfully pointed out in the meeting on August 27th, the indigenous peoples were “here first”. In fact, the land in question itself contains artifacts dating back to 1500-3000 BC, making this site National Register Eligible.
Second, it will prevent the City Council from hearing critical information provided by fact witnesses and experts regarding certain agenda items.
 
Third, restricting the opportunity to speak, and assigning different rules for different members of the public, is in direct conflict with the Open Meetings Law
 
This has been clearly stated in numerous public opinions issued by the New York Department of State Committee of Open Government, including in a communication from February 24, 2006, stating:
“While public bodies have the right to adopt rules to govern their own proceedings [see e.g., Education Law, §1709(1)], the courts have found in a variety of contexts that such rules must be reasonable. For example, although a board of education may “adopt by laws and rules for its government and operations”, in a case in which a board’s rules prohibited the use of tape recorders at its meetings, the Appellate Division found that the rule was unreasonable, stating that the authority to adopt rules “is not unbridled” and that “unreasonable rules will not be sanctioned” [see Mitchell v. Garden City Union Free School District, 113 AD 2d 924, 925 (1985)]. Similarly, if by rule, a public body chose to permit certain citizens to address it for ten minutes while permitting others to address it for three, or not at all, such a rule, in my view, would be unreasonable.
This opinion has been reaffirmed repeatedly in commission opinions, including from February 27, 1997, stating:
“In short, it is my view that any member of the public has an equal opportunity to partake in an open meeting, and that an effort to distinguish among attendees by residence or any other qualifier would be inconsistent with the Open Meetings Law and, therefore, unreasonable. Moreover, as suggested in the opinion addressed to Mr. Fishberg, people other than residents, particularly those who own property or operate businesses in a community, may have a substantial interest in attending and expressing their views at meetings of boards of education and other public bodies. Prohibiting those people from speaking, even though they may have a significant tax burden, while permitting residents to do so, would, in my view, be unjustifiable.
We therefore urge you to revise the rule for this and any further meeting of a City of Troy public body, ensuring that participation rules are consistent with the Open Meetings Law, by ensuring that participation in public meetings is possible for every member of the public.
 
With sincere greetings,
The Friends Of the Mahicantuck Troy Community Organization
Friends of the Mahicantuck Save 1011

Press Release | Community Voices Opposition To Planned ReZoning Proposes Win-Win Solution

PRESS RELEASE: SEPTEMBER 04 20202: COMMUNITY VOICES OPPOSITION TO PLANNED REZONING, PROPOSES WIN-WIN SOLUTION

  • Development threatens last riverfront forest in Troy, NY, which is a critical historical-cultural site; would increase costs for city and school district for provision of essential services by an additional $500,000/year
  • 500 people have signed petitions opposed to the rezoning
  • A 30-page report, expert evidence submitted to city council planning committee for an August 27th Planning Committee meeting, detailed the development’s negative impacts and increased costs to the city
  • City Council will vote on rezoning the parcel, a decision which would move the development ahead at a public hearing on September 10th.
  • Opposition group “Friends of the Mahicantuck” mount public campaign, and offer a common-sense solution

 

TROY, NY: COMMUNITY VOICES STRONG OPPOSITION 
TO PLANNED DEVELOPMENT; PROPOSE WIN-WIN SOLUTION

Troy, New York: Broad community opposition is pushing back against a proposed rezoning that is inconsistent with the city’s “Realize Troy” 2018 Comprehensive Plan. This rezoning would facilitate a planned development of 240 apartment units on the city’s last forest along the Hudson river, located in the Lansingburgh neighborhood.

The “Friends of the Mahicantuck” is a community organization that seeks an alternate vision for this site. The group argues that the development would destroy the city’s last waterfront forest and one of the region’s most significant archeological sites of indigenous history and culture. The group also calculated that the development will increase costs for the school district and the city by $500,000/year or more. “This number already includes anticipated revenues. It’s bankruptcy economics”, explains the group in a statement.

The group pushes the Troy City Council to save this ecologically, culturally and historically unique land (with artifacts dating back to 1500-3000 B.C.) and pushes for the creation of a historical and ecological preservation park that would better serve the community — and offers a common sense solution that should work for all involved parties.

Group Proposes Common Sense Solution To Preserve the Land and Create a Community Park

Support in the community is broad and growing: The “Friends of the Mahicantuck” have collected 500 signed petitions in one week, and the coalition now includes a broad cross-section of the city’s residents and electorate as well as local community organizations, and representatives of indigenous peoples with strong ties to this land.

The Friends group has the community’s backing in opposition to the development. But it also proposes an alternative plan. Jessica Bennett, a spokesperson for the group:  “Let’s protect this land, create a historical and natural preserve with trails and community recreational opportunities and educational programs!” The group says it is ready to realize this vision, working with several regional and local organizations to secure funds and create capacities. “We are prepared to work with community organizations to create a protected space with public access, trails and educational opportunities at the land.”

The group doesn’t want the developer to lose out either. “Our goal is to protect this land”, Bennett explains, “but it is also to offer an alternative vision and a solution that can work for everyone.” There are several viable alternative sites that are already connected to city infrastructures, lie vacant and would not require the costly deforestation and leveling of this precious land. The recently closed Price Chopper just one block down the street comes to mind: Why not develop the Price Chopper property down the street?

Group Offers Viable Alternative to Developer, Pointing to Priorities Defined in City Policies

“The Price Chopper site is ideal” It is owned by the same people, there are currently no plans for it, and it would be cheaper and more efficient for the developer as well as the city to develop the same project there. Bennett concludes: “We absolutely would invite, welcome and support the developer in efforts to realize his vision in better ways by focusing on the many neglected and abandoned sites just around the corner.”

Bennett also points out that the site preparation cost at Price Chopper would pale in comparison to what is necessary to make the current proposal viable: “Even if they would have to raise the Price Chopper to better protect it from floods, that would be cheaper than what needs to happen to realize the current development plans at the forest site.” To allow for the development in its currently proposed form, the forest needs to be cut and the land’s rugged topography leveled. Further, significant flood risks are present there as well, “not to mention the protracted and lengthy process of getting approval for developing land, including involved studies and assessments.”

All of that is not a problem at the Price Chopper site, all of that has already been done, and it is identified in the Realize Troy Comprehensive Plan as a Major Reinvestment Area. The vacant Price Chopper site would also make sense, as the group points to statements by Troy’s Planning Commissioner Steven Strichman as well as City Council President Carmella Mantello. Mantello identified in a previous interview with the Times Union as “prime piece of waterfront property”, and Steven Strichman described it as an “unique opportunity” for a development project that can benefit both Lansingburgh and the city. The Comprehensive Plan also speaks clearly to the redevelopment of this site. “This does not only make this alternative site a good idea”, Bennett explains: “It is the stated policy of the city.”

The agreed upon vision of the administration, council and residents, adopted just two years ago is to develop the Price Chopper site and surrounding area. “I am sure a lot of time, effort, meetings, public input and analysis went into pages 69-72 of the Realize Troy plan.” At the same time, Bennett points out that developing the forest would only reduce economic demand for the Price Chopper site.

Bennett explains: “We welcome development, especially development consistent with Realize Troy, which prioritizes and focuses on the many vacant and abandoned buildings and properties across both the Lansingburgh neighborhood and the entire city. The abandonment and vacancy rate across the city is through the roof. Addressing that really helps the city and the local residents. So why go out of your way to destroy this beautiful land, when there are readily available opportunities to do good for the neighborhood right around the corner? I am sure the entire community would applaud him, would he choose to preserve this forest for the community and invest to revive the Price Chopper instead.”

With that, the Friends offer not only opposition, but a real opportunity to allow for all involved parties to get what they want: “Create a historical and nature preserve and park for the community, save the land, help the city to better utilize open spaces, and help the developer bring his project to the ideal site just around the corner in a way that is more cost effective for the city as well as the developer.”

Across the Lansingburgh area, this idea finds broad support that everyone could agree on: “It’s just common sense”, one resident explains. Bennett of the “Friends of the Mahicantuck” explains that everyone appears united in the fight against this development: “What is clear is that everyone agrees: this development location is just not a good idea, and it is not what the city’s policy is. Especially with such an easy solution at hand that just would work out better for everyone.”

Despite Broad Opposition, City Council Plans To Push Development Forward.

In the meantime, the city council appears for now to be determined to move forward with this development,  despite mounting pressure from the public on both parties. The council will hold a public hearing on the rezoning for the planned 240-unit apartment complex development in Lansingburgh on September 10th.

“What the council will vote on is to ask the planning commission to weigh in and evaluate the development and if it is feasible”, Bennett explains. “However, this is just such a waste of time, resources and money for everyone.”

At a previous public hearing on August 27th, a range of environmental, economic and development experts along with local residents, indigenous leaders and representatives of local community organizations weighed in and provided extensive testimony about the negative impacts that would result from this development. The group provided broad and detailed evidence to the City Council Planning Committee, including a 30 page report and the testimonies of ten experts from different fields.

“We detailed how this development will impact the community, showing that it will increase the cost for the city and school district by at least $500,000 a year, and that it is on top of everything an illegal spot zoning. So I really don’t know why we waste the valuable time of the planning commission as well as the developer at all with this. The City Council has all the facts it needs to consider if this development is in the interest of the city and the current residents: it clearly is not.”

Instead, the community group invites the developer and the city to come together, offering a common sense solution that would find everyone’s support: “Develop the Price Chopper instead, and preserve the forest by creating a historical and natural preservation and park for the community!”

For Bennett this solution has only advantages for everyone: “It saves the developer money and a lot of headache with studies and the entire process of rezoning; It helps reconnect the city and develop abandoned property; it creates tax revenue without the increased costs associated with developing the vacant land for the city; and it would create with the park and preserve an unique opportunity for the Lansingburgh community to bring in tourism, create a recreational space and offer educational opportunities for the neighborhood. We are ready! The question remains: Is the developer and is the city?”

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