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Conservation Consternation

To the Editor:

We have introduced many university students to the Tivoli Preserve, and any one of those students could have produced a more accurate and informative description than yours [“Preserve the Preserve?,” Newsfront, June 4]. We have studied the preserve as an urban ecosystem and, for all its faults and challenges, it stands as a testament to the resilience of nature, supporting a diversity of native wildlife.

We also served on a steering committee, funded by NYS DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program, which produced a plan for ecological restoration of Tivoli Preserve. Other members were educators from DEC and local schools, three Common Council members, as well as representatives from a land conservancy, the city of Albany, and community groups, including the W. Haywood Burns organization. Among our many desired outcomes, the only one featured in your story was a feasibility study of raising part of the buried flow of Patroon. Unburdened by fact and fed by untested opinion, your story was quite misleading. Further information would help.

First, the creek emerges at either end of the preserve, and overflows during high-water events. The 19th-century culvert gets overwhelmed, and the lake, as the lowest point in the landscape, receives these overflows. I.e., the creek is already finding its way back into the lake.

Second, the small, shallow lake is turning to pea soup, choked with weeds and low in oxygen. The lake sediments already have elevated levels of mercury, and flushing with fresh water will reduce formation of methyl mercury, a highly toxic form that enters food chains. Wetland filtration, which entails modification, not sequestration, is more efficient and sustainable than artificial aeration or dredging. Upstream on the Patroon Creek, at the 3-Mile Reservoir, heavy metal contamination is buried and considered stable by responsible parties, and there is no evidence that significant levels of heavy metals are traveling downstream to Tivoli Preserve. That would be major news requiring immediate attention, rather than the casual hearsay you reported.

Third, the most striking feature of Tivoli Preserve is that it is usually deserted, weekdays and weekends. The two entrances are obscure and uninviting, and the trails are overgrown and eroded away. Vandalism may have played a part, but the overwhelming problems are erosion, mostly from upland flows (including large, open storm drains) and plain neglect. The place is so uninviting that it has had little appeal for nearby schools. Our committee’s report focused on these latter issues, particularly educational activities. The simple reason that Patroon Creek daylighting sits on top of Albany’s current agenda is that a particular form of funding became available. To his credit, the city planner has been searching for opportunities to renew Tivoli Preserve.

Finally, your story implied backroom deals evading public scrutiny. No permits have been issued, and full regulatory processes must be brought to bear before any daylighting project. So it was troubling to read quotes from the two representatives of DEC publicly condemning the proposal, without the benefit of current information and in advance of any permit application. Your most quoted source, Mr. Mair of the W. Haywood Burns group, had the benefit of membership on the steering committee and regular progress reports, so many of his remarks were disingenuous. If he did not like the facts, honest rebuttal is the fair response, not denial and obfuscation.

At least three previous attempts have aimed to give the Tivoli Preserve and nearby residents their due, dating back to an effort endorsed by Mayor Corning in the 1960s. All three efforts sputtered, due to meager resources, dwindling political will, and mismanagement. Your shallow and sensationalized piece may have prompted one more setback for poor ol’ Tivoli Lakes Preserve.

Dr. George R. Robinson

Associate professor of biological sciences

State University of New York at Albany


Dr. John G. Arnason


Feura Bush

To the Editor:

“Preserve the Preserve?” was a wonderful article. Never have I read so fully articulated in print the relationship between Patroon Creek, the Landfill and Rensselear Lake and the Tivoli Preserve, the crown jewel of Arbor Hill, full of an amazing diversity of wildlife which have taken refuge there, as it was left as one of the only wild spaces in the city.

When I lived in Arbor Hill, I was very concerned about Patroon Creek possibly contaminating the lake, and I wasn’t even aware of the history. It is wonderful to hear of the good, well-thought-out plan to restore Tivoli Lake to be the resource our city needs it to be.

I pray that the Common Council will reverse itself and demand better for Arbor Hill than to poison a beautiful lake, for no benefit whatsoever. Let’s clean it all up but not sacrifice this beautiful lake to mistakes that were believed at the time to reap a profit for somebody.

Grace Nichols


Cruel Intentions

To the Editor:

Keith Ammann didn’t convince me that the abortion conflict is about the sacredness of the life of a fetus or exactly when a fetus becomes a person [“Stop the Madness,” Opinion, June 11]. I’m not sure what it is about, but it’s not about that. If it was, the anti-abortionists would be marching beside us at antiwar marches, refusing to send their children to other countries to be killed or to kill other people’s children. And they wouldn’t be killing abortion doctors.

So let’s not kid ourselves, this is not about a difference of opinion. It’s about a difference of tactics. The anti-abortionists are using tactics that pro-choice people do not use. The anti-abortionists practice daily acts of harassment against people seeking a legal medical procedure. They destroy property, and they—these so-called believers in the sanctity of life—murder fully formed, adult human beings practicing a profession dedicated to healing. It’s time to be real. Some of them commit crimes where we can see them; others are working behind the scenes. Either way, this is terrorism pure and simple. Until we identify it for what it is, we can never find a real solution.

Judith Brink


The People Will Tweet

To the Editor:

I recently read a post on populism and the Populist party by Jim Hightower (high He laid out the five ways populists organized their movement and made their mark, and suggests that it is possible again, especially with the current political, social, and economic environment.

One of the successful efforts populists used was to create their own media, because the “establishment outlets offered only scorn and ridicule for the populist cause.” Later the same day, I read Paul Rapp’s article “The Revolution Will Be Tweeted”[Rapp on This, June 18] and thought to myself, “The populist media is already broadcasting to the world.”

Populism is a movement that supports hard-working and downtrodden people in their struggle against the forces wielded by big money. We learned about the “populist” political rallies in Iran through Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and e-mail, not from big-money-influenced media giants. They were left flat-footed because they were either disinterested or it just wasn’t newsworthy in their scheme of thing.

I’m not suggesting that Paul Rapp is advocating a Populist movement. He just reported on what really happened, a big lightbulb glowed above my head, and I tied it together with Jim Hightower’s blog. MSM news is no longer reliable. People will find out what is going on through other real people posting the truth.

Mark Ritter


Bad Boy of Troy

To the Editor:

It was a most unpleasant experience to read of the sanctioned thuggery of Troy commissioner of Public Works Bob Mirch [“The Garbageman’s Day in Court,” June 25]. Most alarming is Mirch’s quote, “If you’re right, good. And if you’re not right, then just accept the consequences that goes with it.”

Unfortunately, the consequences of Mirch’s illegal and ill-advised actions fall on the taxpayers. It may be amusing to Mirch that Jack Cox couldn’t access his property, but it isn’t amusing to those of us who are paying the $20,000 settlement.

The lawsuits filed by the ACLU in support of the Sanctuary for Independent Media and by the owner of the defaced and shuttered American Cinema are no laughing matter either. No matter which way the judicial decisions go, they have already cost the city in terms of wasted staff resources and tarnished reputation. Those “code” actions, supported by the Tutunjian administration, certainly send a message to anyone seeking to buy a home or open a business in Troy. And that message is, if the city administration does not like your political affiliations, values, beliefs or lifestyle, you are not welcome in Troy and it will take every action—legal or otherwise—to evict you.

Most residents assume that Tutunjian is afraid of Mirch, or is too indebted to him for his mayoral victories to fire him. The best quote by the mayor is that he “stand[s] before [us] tonight to pledge that after years of planning in the city of Troy it is simply time to start doing.” Unfortunately, he failed to tell us what it was he planned to do—unleash an uncontrolled “garbageman” to harass those that the administration or Mirch does not like.

Chuck Preston



In the story about Big Band guru Keith Pray [“Full House,” Listen Here, June 18], we mistakenly referred to the Empire Jazz Orchestra as the Empire State Orchestra.

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