Another Subdivision Proposed for the Pine Bush

by Lynne Jackson, Jan./Feb. 91

The Hellman Family Foundation has proposed building a 13-home subdivision on valuable Pine Bush. Though one-half of the property would be set-aside as forever wild, the thirteen homes on the other half of the lot would do immeasurable damage to the sensitive Pine Bush.

Developers seem to think that if they build only on part of a parcel of land in the Pine Bush, and leave the other part "forever wild" that they have done their bit for Pine Bush preservation.

Leaving little bits of Pine Bush here and there does not preserve it. It creates a checker-board effect, where one square is developed and the next is not. Unfortunately, the plants and animals who live in the Pine Bush do not understand these arbitrary boundaries. They do not know that they have to transverse the manicured lawns or vast expanse of parking lot to get to more parts of the Pine Bush on the other side.

For the Pine Bush to survive, large tracts of contiguous land must be preserved.
The site of this proposed sub-division in near the intersection of Kings Road and Old State Road. Two-thirds of the site is ear-marked as primary preserve under the NY Natural Heritage survey.

The Hellman Family foundation is a non-for-profit philanthropic group, named for the late Neil Hellman, that supports local institutions. The proceeds from this development are to go to the Foundation.

In addition to the ecological importance of this parcel, there is historic importance. One of the oldest roads in the nation, called the King's Highway, runs through this parcel. This is the most historically significant public road in New York and one of the most significant in the country. The road's origins are veiled in the mist of antiquity, the first definite reference to it being in a Beverwyck Court Review in 1660. It was then called by the Dutch the Maquas Padt (The Mohawk Path) in the next year it was the road taken by the pioneers to settle Schenectady and may have been widen from a foot path to a wagon road for that purpose at that time.
In a publication written by Lewis Evens and printed by Benjamin Franklin in 1755 there is a description of a route to the English which "opens from Albany westward into the heart of the continent To avoid a great Cataract of 75 feet, in the Mohawk River [the Cohoes Falls], they carry all the goods, destined for the Inland Trade, 16 Miles overland to Skenectady in Wagons. There they embark on the Mohawk River." The King's Highway was the road that opened up the West.
The Guilderland Planning Board gave concept approval for this development on November 19, 1990. This approval is conditional upon the submission of an Environmental Impact Statement.

Editor's note: The Nature Conservancy purchased this parcel for preserve in October of 1992. I guess SPB's history of winning lawsuits put the Hellman Foundation off!


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