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February 6, 2006

Reprinted from the Times Union, January 20, 2006

Mayor abandons Pine Bush landfill plan
Promise to preserve sensitive area will be honored, Jennings says in annual message

By BRIAN NEARING, Staff writer
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First published: Friday, January 20, 2006

ALBANY -- The city will end efforts to expand its dump into Pine Bush land that was earlier promised for preservation, Mayor Jerry Jennings announced Thursday during his annual State of the City address.

He said the city will abandon a plan to expand the landfill by 20 acres into the Fox Run Estates property at the northern boundary of the Rapp Road landfill.

That parcel is part of 60 acres purchased by the city in 2000 and promised to the Pine Bush Preserve in exchange for state approval of the last dump expansion.

Most of Jennings' half-hour speech focused on his hopes for the new convention center project and economic redevelopment plans. But he also warned of looming fiscal calamity if the city doesn't find a way to keep earning millions from taking in garbage.

On Wednesday, an environmental group sued the Jennings administration in state Supreme Court, claiming the city was reneging on its earlier promise for the Fox Run property and should be forced to donate the land.

The city had planned to donate the land by 2017 -- after filling it with garbage, covering it with soil, and planting grass, a scenario which outraged environmentalists.

Jennings said, ``I respect the concerns that have been raised ... we will donate the land. We will do the right thing.'' Instead, the city will add 10 acres to the existing landfill at its western boundary off Washington Avenue Extension, he said. The land is owned by the city.

``I expect there will opposition based on concerns that these 10 acres are considered Pine Bush habitat,'' he said. Jennings was right.

Lynne Jackson, secretary of Save the Pine Bush, which sued the city over the Fox Run property, called the alternative an unacceptable ``backroom deal.'' She said the city shouldn't expand Rapp Road further because it sits over an aquifer.

Jennings warned Council members that the city has to find someplace to put trash. The city earns about $13 million annually -- 10 percent of its budget -- from fees paid by private trash haulers and the 12 local communities in the ANSWERS consortium.

Rapp Road will be filled within four years, and ``it is almost certain'' the city won't have its planned replacement landfill in Coeymans opened by then, Jennings said.

Opponents of the Coeymans site have also sued the city, trying to undo the installment-style payments the city has been using for the last decade to buy the 363-acre parcel. Coeymans opponents Thursday presented an anti-dump petition with nearly 1,000 signatures to the Common Council after Jennings' address.

Brian Nearing can be reached at 454-5094 or by e-mail at


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