Credit Is Due
the six-year battle to stop St. Lawrence Cement’s massive,
coal-fired proposal, Metroland contributed many eye-opening
reports on this issue of regionwide concern. In April, overcoming
the $58 million SLC spent to promote this dangerous idea,
citizens prevailed thanks to a strong ruling from the Department
Along with articles by Erin Sullivan, Travis Durfee, Nancy
Guerin and others, Metroland kindly honored Friends
of Hudson for our key role in the SLC fight with a 2001 Local
Considering this in-depth coverage, it was not surprising
to find the “stop the plant” campaign hailed in your pages
as the “Best Environmental Victory” of 2005. But it was
somewhat surprising to find this victory attributed solely
to “the Hudson Valley Preservation Coalition, formed by Scenic
Hudson with many other groups including Olana.”
In fact, HVPC was not originally “formed by Scenic Hudson,”
and only came into existence two and a half years after the
cement project was announced. The idea for HVPC came first
from Kate Kerin, then-director of Hudson River Heritage; and
it grew out of a River Roundtable convened by our members.
Moreover, the Olana Partnership, like Friends of Hudson, was
by choice not a member of HVPC—encouraging its formation while
maintaining our own independent roles. Of all the funds raised
for this battle, two-thirds came from Friends of Hudson donors,
as did most of the citizen opposition.
During the battle with SLC, there were many internal differences
of opinion and tactics about how to win this fight. Opponents
kept these disagreements among ourselves in the interest of
stopping a multinational polluter. Sadly, both during and
after the controversy, the goodwill of many groups was continually
tested by Scenic Hudson; and the time has now come to break
our silence on that subject.
In the early days of the cement battle, Scenic Hudson discouraged
Friends of Hudson from challenging this Swiss-owned polluter,
claiming SLC was too politically connected to fight. “We won’t
get involved, because you can’t win that one,” was their message.
Only after our membership grew exponentially, after we’d raised
hundreds of thousands of dollars, after it looked like we’d
turned the tide, and after Scenic Hudson’s embarrassing $2
million sell-out of its local partners to the Athens Generating
company, did their large organization start taking an active
Scenic Hudson then aggressively tried to position itself as
the lead organization. It tried to keep groups like Clearwater
and Riverkeeper on the sidelines, viewing them as competition.
It tried to pry donors away from allies, and frequently violated
our carefully negotiated partnership agreements. In particular,
it continually tried to keep Scenic Hudson in the limelight,
at the expense of allies more focused on the day-to-day battle
than on PR.
As such, Metroland’s error is quite understandable.
Scenic Hudson rightly touts its organization’s signature Storm
King victory (now seeking to “brand” the SLC victory as “a
second Storm King”). But in many ways it has lost touch with
the values that made that landmark decision possible.
Friends of Hudson remains grateful that others joined the
challenge we undertook on our own for several years. Along
with Olana and Scenic Hudson, but also the Preservation League,
Environmental Activists, the Sierra Club, NRDC, and others
too numerous to list contributed mightily to this victory.
For our regional environment to be protected and our economy
to stay strong, groups large and small must collaborate. Unfortunately,
hard experience also teaches the grassroots to beware of predatory
organizations which bide their time on land use battles, let
citizens do the spadework, and then swoop in to take credit
(or even to cut a deal with the developer).
Despite this experience, we continue to work with Scenic Hudson
on issues like the future of the Hudson waterfront. And new
threats are already surfacing, such as Lafarge’s plan to burn
five million tires in its kiln at Ravena. With our eyes open,
Friends of Hudson remains committed to working with our allies,
but without ever sacrificing the integrity, tenacity, and
agility that comes up from genuine commitment to grassroots
Executive director, Friends of Hudson
Vale Cemetery Board of Trustees and its staff would like to
express our appreciation for Metroland’s selection
of Vale Cemetery as the Best Cemetery [“Best Of the Capital
Region 2005,” July 21]. We are very pleased and proud to receive
this designation and feel that we have earned it! Vale Cemetery
is the final resting place for a very large number of notables
going back to the era of the early Dutch traders. We have
the graves here for veterans of the French & Indian War,
the American Revolution, the Civil War, and then there is
a very large number of the industrialists and inventors who
gave rise to the moniker for Schenectady as “The City That
Lights and Hauls the World.” In addition to the above, we
have the burial sites for many of the civic leaders, politicians,
notable women, and an area for African-Americans.
Both Vale Cemetery and Vale Park (formerly a part of the cemetery)
are listed on the National Register of Historic Sites as a
prime example of the Rural Cemetery Movement in the mid-19th
century. Vale is still an active cemetery with enough burial
spaces for another 200 years. We also operate a crematory,
and all our services are at competitive prices.
Again, we thank you for your willingness to explore our grounds
and take such a great picture for your publication of some
of our more notable monuments.
President, Vale Cemetery Board of Trustees
so the Town of Ballston is a sleepy little place that doesn’t
warrant a lot of news coverage [“Sprawl Games,” Newsfront,
Aug. 11]. But there are enough local residents who are fed
up with the bend-over attitudes of the current town government
toward big-box developers to have gotten some notice. Currently
running as an alternative to the lockstep Republicans who
have been making decisions for us for decades is an interesting
trio comprising one Democrat, one Republican and one from
the Independence Party. And now they’ve brought in Saratoga
Associates to “create the atmosphere of a small town.” Wake
up! Ballston is a small town and we wish to stay that way.
Twenty years ago, residents surveyed did not want “destination
shopping” in Ballston, and a recent survey reiterated that
goal. What did the current Town Board do but vote to lift
the recommended 60,000-square-foot cap on building in the
new draft plan. Two surveys and they still didn’t listen.
Gina Rossi Marozzi, who doesn’t even live in town, thinks
we need a Wal-Mart so we can get to the grocery. I can drive
to two Hannafords and three Price Choppers within 10 minutes.
Gina wants to make as much money as she can off the property
her family owns and the hell with the residents. No one needs
Wal-Mart in a town where cows outnumber residents. . . . OK,
maybe you have to add in a few sheep. Thanks for the coverage;
now do some digging. The truth needs all the help it can get.
am a regular reader of Metroland who notes that you
have covered land-use issues in Bethlehem, Clifton Park, and
most recently, Ballston Spa. I have also noted that you have
not covered similar issues regarding developers/town governments
and the local community in Nassau and North Greenbush. In
North Greenbush there are major issues including suspicions
that the local politicians are taking direction from state
and county politicians and significant conflicts of interest
in the town government.
In the case of Nassau and North Greenbush, citizens are trying
to fight sprawl and shoddy development by establishing independent
villages (as has already been accomplished in the case of
the village of East Nassau) in order to regain control by
the local community. In the case of North Greenbush in particular,
the town government has placed roadblocks in the way of voting
on this issue, and it has been necessary to file lawsuits
in order to have the right to vote.
Citizens of North Greenbush have just won a major victory
in court regarding the rezoning to commercial at the corners
of Routes 4 and 43 (just yards from the spot Metroland
has reported has the Capital Region’s best view of the Albany
skyline). It would be nice if these struggles were reported
in Metroland. We are currently awaiting a decision
from the Appellate Court (we have already won that one in
the Supreme Court) regarding the town supervisor’s decision
to declare out petition for a vote to be legally invalid.
applaud Metroland in making all-natural American Spirit
the only cigarette tobacco that it advertises. While I agree
that even natural tobacco—especially if used excessively—is
still “somewhat” unhealthy and can contribute to non-cancer
lung ailments, I am firmly among those who believe that the
real burden of blame for the cancer itself are all the added
processed chemicals of sorts which when smoked are far, far,
worse than say, eating processed Polish sausage . . . as if
such chemicals’ detrimental effects are somehow exacerbated
when burned as opposed to merely consumed.
Now if only Metroland could run an article calling
for the legalization of true “medical” psilocybin (“magic
mushrooms”) to be clinically administered maybe four times
a year to quell my alcoholism!
Thank you for the applause, but for the record, we have no
policy that would prohibit companies from advertising non-natural
tobacco products in Metroland.
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