This is the Town of Guilderland Planning Board meeting (5209 Western Turnpike, Guilderland) where they will be reviewing the draft positive SEQRA declaration and draft scope of Pyramid Corporation projects, both current and future, in the transit-oriented district that surrounds Crossgates Mall. We hope you can attend in support of the Rapp Road Historic District.
This is a documentary called Crossroads, the History of Rapp Road. This is a great way to get a real understanding of the history of the neighborhood and why it is so important to work towards preserving the neighborhood.
July 29, 2019
VIA EMAIL AND HAND DELIVERY
Mayor Kathy Sheehan
City of Albany
24 Eagle Street, Rm. 102
Albany, New York 12207
Dear Mayor Sheehan,
As you are aware, the Rapp Road Development Corporation (Pyramid) plans to develop 222 residential units on Rapp Road near the City of Albany and Town of Guilderland border. This development would be adjacent to and adversely affect Albany's Rapp Road Historic District, which is a rare example of an intact community born out of the Great Migration between 1930 and 1950. Notably, the Rapp Road Historic District is listed on the Federal and State Historical Registries and was listed as a “Seven to Save” historical site by the Preservation League of New York.
The Rapp Road Historical Association (RRHA) is in receipt of correspondence sent by Mr. Brad Glass, City of Albany’s Director of Planning to Mr. Kenneth Kovalchik, Planner for the Town of Guilderland on the July 2, 2019 deadline regarding the Rapp Road project. To our knowledge, this was the City of Albany's only written response to the Guilderland Planning Department regarding the Rapp Road Development Corporation (Pyramid) proposal.
We do thank Mr. Glass for recommending in his letter that the Town of Guilderland Planning Board issue a positive declaration pursuant to SEQRA and directing the Applicant to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement. This recommendation was also echoed by the Albany County Planning Board. However, RRHA is extremely disappointed that the City did not advocate for any of the three options to mitigate the traffic issues on Rapp Road. RRHA is even more disappointed that we had to learn of the City's decision at the Guilderland's Planning Board Meeting on July 10, 2019. Specifically, Guilderland Town Planner Kenneth Kovalchik stated at the meeting, “The Applicant and the Town met with the City on multiple occasions and, as part of the coordinated review, we provided the City with three traffic mitigation options and the City did not support any of those options.” Mr. Kovalchik also stated that, “The Town does agree that at some point, traffic mitigation should be done to Rapp Road.” RRHA respectfully submits that the time is now to mitigate traffic on Rapp Road, not sometime in the distant future.
Without question, the Rapp Road Development Corporation's proposal will adversely affect the City of Albany neighborhoods in the Pine Bush, with particular emphasis on the Rapp Road Historical District. In late April 2019, RRHA was briefed by William Trudeau, City of Albany Traffic Engineer at a meeting on Rapp Road which you, your staff, RRHA members and concerned residents attended. Two proposals for mitigation of traffic on the adjacent City of Albany neighborhoods were discussed. Subsequently, RRHA was advised that both traffic mitigation proposals previously discussed were no longer being considered. However, it was our understanding that an unspecified third mitigation proposal would be prepared. When asked for specifics of this third plan, RRHA was advised that the City of Albany was not at liberty to discuss it with us at this time. It is imperative and necessary for the City of Albany to share with us exactly what the next steps being discussed are. Not only is it appropriate for RRHA to be continuously informed of the planning process, it is also appropriate for RRHA to have a seat at the table when these decisions are being made.
The City of Albany’s submission to the Guilderland Planning Department is devoid of any specific mitigation plan being considered. We have been totally left out of the process of crafting it, let alone knowing what the mitigation plan is. The discussions regarding this project is not the first time that RRHA has been engaged with the City of Albany for traffic and pedestrian safety issues. In fact, we have communicated many times over the past several years in meetings, conversations, e-mails and other types of correspondence, many of which are fully documented. However, few of our concerns have ever been answered. In the interest of the well-being of our community, as well as openness and transparency in government, the City of Albany should timely respond to our concerns and afford us the opportunity to know what is being planned which affects us. We look forward to hearing from you.
Rapp Road Historical Association
cc: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand - email@example.com
U.S. Representative Paul Tonko - via website: http://tonko.house.gov/
N.Y. Senator Neil Breslin - firstname.lastname@example.org
N.Y. Assemblymember Patricia Fahy - FahyP@nyassembly.gov
Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy – County_Executive@albanycountyny.gov
Albany County Legislator William Clay - email@example.com
Albany Common Council Member Michael O’Brien - firstname.lastname@example.org
N.Y. Assemblymember (Ret.) John McEneny - McEnenyAlbany@gmail.com
Kenneth Kovalchik – Guilderland Town Planner – email@example.com
CITY OF ALBANY
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
24 EAGLE STREET
ALBANY, NEW YORK 12207
TELEPHONE (518) 434-5100
July 29, 2019
Rapp Road Historical Association 14 Rapp Road
Albany, NY 12203
Dear Rapp Road Historical Association:
This letter is in response to your July 29 letter regarding the City's position on the proposed development of 222 units of housing on Rapp Road within the Town of Guilderland.
First, I would like to respond to the gross mischaracterization that the City has not been responsive to the Rapp Road Historical Association's (RRHA) concerns regarding this project. I, along with the City's Department of Planning & Development and Division of Traffic Engineering, have met and spoken with representatives from RRHA numerous times, including an in-person site visit on April 29, 2019. During each of these meetings, the City has expressed our concerns that the likely increase in traffic as a result of this project will adversely impact the Rapp Road community, as well as residents of Pine Lane, Gipp Road, and Wilan Lane.
Mr. Kovalchik's statement, that "the Applicant and the Town met with the City on multiple occasions and, as part of the coordinated review, we provided the City with three traffic mitigation options and the City did not support, any of those options," •has been misinterpreted. The City's position is that traffic mitigation in the Rapp Road Historic District corridor is a mandatory component of any development project to occur at this site. Should mitigation measures fail to occur, we believe the project will have negative impacts on the entire community that preclude its moving forward.
The fact that the City did not explicitly support the mitigation options proposed by the applicant thus far should not be interpreted to mean that the City does not support, or demand, mitigation. Foremost, the City was conveying its position that this 222-unit project should not be evaluated within a vacuum. The subject landowner owns acres upon acres of land in the immediate area, which could inevitably be developed at similar densities. The proposal fails to evaluate the proposed traffic (and other) implications in this context. It also begs the question of why the proposed development is even proposed to occur at the subject site location, rather than a myriad of other more suitable, transit-oriented locations under common ownership in the immediate vicinity.
Of the three mitigation concepts presented to the City, flaws were evident in their design. One option resulted in significant emergency response complications for City residents. Another option proposed changed roadways and properties located entirely within the Town of Guilderland, over which the City has no long-term control or enforcement authority. As was communicated to your membership, the City also proposed one additional traffic mitigation option that would have alleviated all City of Albany residents' concerns. While discussions with the applicant and the Town of Guilderland continue, the City expressed its recommendation to complete an EIS and evaluate all alternatives.
The burden is upon the applicant to provide as many options as are necessary to ensure that any selected alternative is satisfactory and acceptable in all respects, to both the City and community. The EIS process will allow for consideration of alternatives beyond those presented, including those more appropriately scaled to the full impacts of the larger site build out. As this process moves forward, we look forward working with you.
In conclusion, we are dismayed by the fact you have misrepresented the steps the City has taken to respond to the proposed development. We are demanding a full EIS precisely because the mitigation efforts put forth thus far fail to address the issues we have discussed with you on multiple occasions over the past several months. We will continue to advocate for a comprehensive solution to the traffic issues impacting the Rapp Road and adjoining neighborhoods.
Kathy, . Sheehan Mayor,tity of Albany
Cc: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
U.S. Representative Paul Tonko
N.Y.S. Senator Neil Breslin
N.Y.S. Assemblymember Patricia Fahy
Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy
Albany County Legislator William Clay
Albany Common Council Member Michael O'Brien
N.Y.S. Assemblymember (Ret.) John McEneny
James Soos — Pyramid Management Group, LLC
Stephen Feeney — Chairman, Guilderland Planning Board
Kenneth Kovalchik — Guilderland Town Planner