Victory in Colonie!
Vinyl Golf Driving Range
by Lynne Jackson
Since last spring, Save the Pine Bush volunteers have been attending hearings, reading long EIS's (Environmental Impact Statements), and speaking out against the proposed Golden Bear Family Golf Indoor and Outdoor Driving Range.
This ugly thing which was to be located between Siver and Curry Road in Colonie, was proposed to be built on 18 acres of Pine Bush in the Town of Colonie. It would have consisted of an outdoor driving range, a pro shop, a parking lot, a miniature golf course, and, to top it all off, a 7 story (75') inflatable vinyl dome. This white vinyl dome would have glowed at night and would have (I believe) been higher than any other building in the Pine Bush.
The proposal included plans to plant "native Pine Bush species". How this would have been done, I do not know. There is no place to purchase native Albany Pine Bush plants at this time. And I cannot imagine golfers putting up with such plantings for very long, when they are used to highly pesticided, herbicided, mono-culture short grass, not untidy, natural grasses from the Pine Bush.
Volunteers gave testimony at the public hearing about the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The developer of the project (unlike developers in Albany, who give away copies of the DEIS for free) charged $65 for each copy of the DEIS prepared by Hershberg and Hershberg for the project. In order for Save the Pine Bush to get copies to volunteers in time to submit written comments, we had to buy four copies.
The public hearing on the DEIS was quite interesting. Several neighbors of the proposed project spoke against it. Volunteers from Save the Pine Bush presented testimony about how this proposed development would affect the Pine Bush. Several golfers attended and spoke about how much they were looking forward to using this facility. The developer of the project only held an option to buy the land. He was to purchase it from a 92 year-old woman. This stately woman attended the public hearing. She was greeted with applause when she made the final comments at the public hearing about how she had owned the land for sixty years. The chairman of the Planning Board, Peter Platt, used the occasion to trumpet his opinion, that owners of property should have the only say over what is done with their land. A Save the Pine Bush volunteer who was listening carefully to the owner amidst the loud talking and clapping, heard her say in a soft sad voice, "It would be nice if it were something different, though."
Save the Pine Bush volunteers were in the process of commenting on the Final Environmental Impact Statement, when we received the news that the developer had withdrawn his proposal. This was sudden, unexpected good news. The newspapers reported that the developer withdrew his proposal because it took so long to get through the Planning Board and environmental review process, that he would not be able to build his project before winter, and thus would not have enough money. We also heard rumors that the developer was afraid of a lawsuit by Save the Pine Bush, and that any litigation would further delay the construction. For whatever reason the project was withdrawn, this is very good news indeed for the Pine Bush.
Our Pine Bush volunteers were diligent in following the project from the very first time it was proposed until it was withdrawn. Many thanks to Sandra Camp, Jesse Strock, John Wolcott, Russell Ziemba, students from Columbia High School SEAC and from Colonie High School. Volunteers attended all of the meetings of the Town of Colonie Planning Board where this project was discussed, and spoke against the project at any time the Planning Board asked for comments.
Score 1 for the Pine Bush!
Printed November, 1997