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


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.



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


  • 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, 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?”

Develop Abandoned Properties First !

Neighborhood Impacts

The development will hurt Lansingburhg and the entire city. It will impact the neighborhood and the city overall negatively.

The development will destroy the current access to the Hudson River provided with this land. The proposed development claims to incorporate the public interested in access to the waterfront and natural spaces along the river. However, this statement is clearly misleading. The developer is creating a dead-end trail and does not create any incentive or attractive park or other features that would invite the public.

The developer is clearly creating amenities for his renters, not for the public and the Lansignburgh neighborhood — and will additionally use this as justification for higher rental prices for departments — with negative effects for surrounding homeowners and renters.

Overall, the proposed development discourages in its design the use of this property, as it is not designed as public use space.


The residents of 240 newly built apartments will significantly increase pressures on public services and infrastructure.

The proposed development will significantly increase the infrastructure and public service costs, particularly in this R1-zoned residential area. It will in particular negatively impact the local community in terms of infrastructure and public service availability. Several studies have consistently shown the associated increased costs of and strain on critical services associated with developments such as the one proposed here (see evidence for Section 4). Abrupt development growth that does not follow smart and soft growth guidelines and do not utilize existing infrastructure and e.g. vacant properties or buildings, significantly strains services through rapid influx, including amongst others:

    1. Increased pressure on already strained school services
    2. Increased pressure on already strained garbage collection
    3. Increased pressure on already strained emergency services
    4. Increased need for road maintenance
    5. Increased pressure on already over-capacity sewage system



Besides the cost associated with strains on the local infrastructure, this development will also lead to additional direct and indirect costs for the local residents and the overall neighborhood.

The development will lead to significant loss of property value and resale value due to the loss of greenspace and waterfront, which also negatively impacts the city budget

    1. The tax savings of industrial development may measure a few hundred dollars a year per taxpayer, but the loss in property values measures in the thousands. Typically it takes decades of tax savings to make up for the loss in property value.
    2. Property value will decline with the loss of a significant greenspace and undeveloped waterfront forest property


Rental increases in surrounding housing are expected to increase due to the amenities at the property, clearly designed for the use of renters at the property.



There are priority development areas in the direct vicinity of this property. A vacant price chopper as well as several vacant locations across the local Lansingburgh neighborhood are identified as priority and development nodes in the comprehensive plan.

As the plan states:

“Troy’s high vacancy rates are also contributing to neighborhood destabilization. There are approximately 23,100 housing units in Troy and approximately 2,100 of these units, or 9%, are vacant and unused. Prospective residents are deterred from purchasing homes in neighborhoods with high vacancy rates as they are perceived as areas with higher crime, and where continued disinvestment may occur. These conditions have resulted in a weak housing market and low housing values compared to the region”.

A rezoning discourages and actively prevents the development of already developed vacant areas with existing infrastructure and public services in place.

The development of this property, and the associated rezoning, stand in conflict with these development needs and undermine soft and smart growth and development.

Accordingly, the rezoning would stand in direct conflict with the provisions and priorities laid out in the Comprehensive Plan, the smart growth development principles established in the Comprehensive Plan, and the New York State Smart Growth Criteria.

Historical Significance

What is more, this site has been used by people for THOUSANDS of years, and includes pre-historic archeological artifacts that show the site’s use by communities as early as 1600-3000 B.C.

Amongst the artifacts that have been found are countless significant ones of members of the Mahican peoples, but also important finds ranging back to prehistoric times. The site was used by the Mahican people as a quarry and tool making site. The site was also identified as the location of semi-permanent and potentially permanent settlements. Some of the studies also mention strong indications for burial sites.

Studies of the Land

There have been several studies of the site, starting with extensive surveys in the 1980s that consistently showl the historical, archeological and cultural significance of this site, and its eligiblity to be listed in and protected by the National Register.

Several archeological studies have been conducted on this land, with one of the first most significant studies dating back to the 1980ies. The existing reports, studies and academic publications all consistently conclude that the land in question is of high historical and archeological significance, and that the found artifacts justify the registration of this land in the national registry.

This has also been confirmed in personal correspondence with a lead archeologist involved in the recent 2020 survey provided as part of the SEQRA analysis. The report was not yet made available to the public.

According to these studies, the sites contain significant amounts of prehistoric and historic archeological artifacts. The scientific consensus agrees that this site is of high historic, archeological and cultural significance.

The EPA cultural resource survey associated with the 2002 Record of Decision relating the Hudson River remediation also emphasizes the historical-cultural and archeological significance of this site and notes the need for further study of this site for the future — which has not been independently conducted to this date. This report also states the high likelihood of unrecovered extensive archeological resources on this site.

Finally, two previously unrecovered reports associated with the site as well as a second in immediate proximity — both referred together as the Pleasantdale Quarry — explicitly identify the sites as historically and archeologically critical and positively review the archeological record associated with these sites as eligible for the National Register [S1-4].

One of these reports, referenced and thereby submitted as evidence in the record was authored by Hetty Jo Brumbach, Paula Zitzler, the Public Archeology Facility and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and discusses the “potential eligibility for nomination to the National Registry of Historic Places”.

On page 81, the authors explicitly state that:

“Stage II survey recovered adequate data to determine that the prehistoric site … appears to meet the criteria for eligibility to the National Register of Historic Places. […] disturbance to the site has been minimal. Very little artifact collection has taken place and few of the residents are aware of the presence of the prehistoric material. Thus, unlike some quarry locations of the Hudson Valley, the site has not been depleted by collectors”

And continue:

“The site also has the potential for providing unique information pertaining to regional prehistory since it is one of the few professionally reported and investigated archaeological sites in Rensselaer County. Thus, the site is capable of yielding information important in prehistory.”

Based on these reports, the site’s unique importance becomes explicit and it becomes clear that the preservation of this site is critical. It also makes clear that its development would lastingly destroy this site and rob the city and its people of a major aspect of its history.

An application for review regarding the eligibility of this site for the National Register is currently in the beginning steps, with first evidence filed on August 24, 2020 with NYS SHPO . Additional supplemental evidence is being sent to SHPO over the course of the next weeks.

Legal Implications

According to state and federal law, a DEC SPEDES permit is necessary associated with the ground disturbance of this project exceeding one acre. Other state and federal agency permits or funding may also trigger SHPO involvement.

A coordinator of the SHPO Archeology Unit Program confirms this, stating in official correspondence from August 12, 2020 regarding the site:

“Given the archaeological sensitivity of 1011 2nd Street, the SHPO will likely request an archeological survey to document archaeological sites that are located within this project area, if a survey has not already been undertaken.”

The requirement of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act [S1-5] and Section 14.09 of the State Historic Act [S1-6] is that project impacts to National Register eligible or listed sites are avoided, reduced or mitigated.  Mitigation may involve additional archaeological surveys.


Sources and Resources:

  • Brumbach, H.J. (1987) “A Quarry/Workshop And Processing Station On The Hudson River In Pleasantdale, New York”. Archeology of Eastern North America, 15(1987), 59-83.
  • Lothrop, J. C., Burke, A. L., Winchell-Sweeney, S., and G. Gauthier (2018). Coupling Lithic Sourcing with Least Cost Path Analysis to Model Paleoindian Pathways in Northeastern North America. American Antiquity, 83(3), 462-484.
  • US EPA (2002). Responsiveness Summary Hudson River PCBs Site Record of Decision. Appendix C Stage 1A Cultural Resource Survey.
  • Brumbach, Hetty Jo, Zitzler, Paula (1993) Stage II Archeological Investigation Of the Turnpike/River Bend Road Area. Pleasantdale Wastewater Facility Plan. Town Of Schaghticoke, Rensselaer County, New York (C-36-1270-01). Public Archaeology Facility, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. [Hard Copy Available].
  • National Historic Preservation Act
  • State Historic Act