Open space in Schenectady County benefits the environment, but some say it can also be a boon to the quality of life of residents.
The Schenectady County Environmental Advisory Council’s 2011 Annual Update report said population pattern and land development has varied over the past 40 years. There was a retraction of population in the City of Schenectady, but 2010 Census data revealed a population increase in the city, which SCEAC credited to a successful redevelopment of downtown. Schenectady County is the second fastest growing county in the Capital District and the ninth fastest growing in the state.
This is the fourth story in a four-part series examining the Schenectady County Environmental Advisory Council’s impact over the past four decades and looks at what still needs to be done to preserve the county’s natural resources.
First story Click here.
Second story Click here.
Third story Click here.
Using “smart growth” principles, which focuses on filling vacancies before developing open space and farmland, is how the county has tried to maintain the characteristics of the towns, said Ray Gillen, commissioner of the Schenectady County Economic Development and Planning Department and chair of Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority.
“It is much harder … to do it smartly and use existing sites, but it is the right thing to do and it conserves open space,” Gillen said. “You point to any project in the towns, the vast majority of the time it is part of the smart growth agenda.”
Recent projects Gillen pointed to as smart growth include the redevelopment of the former Capital Plaza in Rotterdam, and Target moving into the former Glenville Kmart site. Using vacant space and already developed land, Gillen said, is what the county focuses on in towns. He said there are some tools to help preserve open space, such as land zoned agricultural.