Despite the cold winter weather, local activists are trying to turn up the heat in Niskayuna as they urge town officials to withdraw from a lawsuit that is determining the fate of the historic Ingersoll Home for the Aged. Next week is expected to prove crucial in the high stakes battle as town board members review a 170-signature petition submitted by critics of the plan to build a multi-million dollar shopping mall on the site.
The town board was given a petition and sample resolution at our organizational meeting on Jan. 10, but we haven't had an opportunity to really review those yet, Supervisor Joe Landry said on Tuesday, Jan. 15. "I expect to bring that issue to the members of the town board next week and see what direction they would like to go. I won't know until then whether we have the votes to take any action on this at our next meeting on Jan. 29."
Organized as the Friends of Stanford Home, a core group of preservationists, led by former town historian Linda Champagne, are pushing hard for the town to withdraw its appeal of a court ruling that saw the activists win a victory on the issue by effectively blocking construction of a shopping mall on the 12.5-acre Ingersoll site until a full-blown environmental impact study is completed. Lawyers with Highbridge Development LLC, the company seeking to build the mall, are also appealing that case.
"I am very hopeful, just hopeful, that the town will withdraw their appeal because it seems like a reasonable thing to do," said Champagne, president of the Friends of Stanford Home. "We still have more petitions out, and we're getting more signatures."
The high-profile battle over the future of the Ingersoll Home started when the town board narrowly approved plans to build a 76-bed nursing home on a Consaul Road site in the spring of 2006. That structure was meant to replace the existing Ingersoll Home on the corner of State Street and Balltown Road.
More than 180-years- old, the current nursing home has been used as a health-care facility for decades. Prior to that use, it was the residence of several prominent families including the founder of the world-renowned Stanford University in California.
Activists have pointed to those historic ties in seeking to block construction of a shopping mall on the mostly wooded 12.5-acre site. Champagne has also pointed out that the town board never formally approved Niskayuna's decision to join developers in appealing the case.
"There was nothing in the records to show they ever authorized this," she said. ""