After years in limbo, the City of Albany has sold a parcel of land once earmarked as a target for landfill expansion.
Albany had paid around $5 million to three landowners over a number of years going back to the Jennings administration, to secure 363 acres of vacant land in the town of Coeymans off Thruway exit 21A. At the time, it was to have a become much-needed landfill site. But there was opposition from residents, not to mention falling under federal protection as wetlands — so the parcel sat there.
By May 2017, city officials warned Albany’s Rapp Road landfill would reach maximum capacity by January 2023.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation had expressed interest in the Coeymans property for use as a nature preserve. As that process went forward it was determined the parcel was overvalued.
In November 2017, the Common Council green-lighted the sale of that land councilors believed could rake in $620,000, a far cry from the millions the city had hoped to make from sale. There were potential buyers (the DEC) and rumors of potential private buyers, but no sale occurred.
Then-Councilor Frank Commisso, Jr. cast the lone vote against selling the parcel to a private developer who wanted to expand the Coeymans Industrial Park.
In May, the then-mayoral candidate criticized what he felt was the Sheehan administration's lack of foresight in providing for future generations. "We could extend the life of the landfill and provide more adequate time to plan a future here for the city of Albany as it relates to having an affordable disposal option. That's really important because right now we have many individuals in Albany on fixed income, many people now paying a trash fee."
Now, Albany has negotiated a deal with the DEC. Erica Ringewald is the agency's Acting Deputy Commissioner for Public Affairs. "The city of Albany has accepted the Department of Environmental Conservation's offer to purchase this property, and recently signed a land purchase agreement."
The DEC will move ahead with plans to establish a wildlife management area on the site. "DEC has received support from the community and interested sportsmen for the state to purchase this land for both the preservation of open space and for the recreational opportunities this area will provide."
That includes winter sports like cross-country skiing and year-round activities like hiking, bird-watching, hunting and fishing.
The city made out a little better than anticipated: the reported final sale price is $814,000. The Sheehan administration did not return requests for comment.