Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why not tone down second guessing?

First published in print: Saturday, October 31, 2009

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The Times Union's recent critique of the Harriman state office campus development plan "(With no vision, Harriman lags," editorial, Oct. 26) ignores its ill-conceived origin.

At the beginning, Gov. George Pataki wanted something for nothing. Faced with aging buildings that had not kept pace with electrical and communications demands of an increasingly computerized work force, Pataki sought to sell off the land -- to generate one-shot revenues, then wash his hands of responsibility for maintaining the existing structures and move all state workers to rented space.

Pataki also hoped to reduce the state's payment in lieu of taxes to Albany, once the Harriman land was returned to the tax rolls. Great minds like perennial commissioner John Egan have struggled to make Pataki's pipe dream work.

Now it seems that only the University at Albany covets this land, wanting to erect monstrosities that would loom over the sedate Eagle Hill neighborhood.

Kudos to the Times Union for writing about UAlbany's dorm plan, but it's time to tone down the second-guessing, especially at a time when there are no deep pockets – private or public – to make Pataki's delusion a reality.

Tim O'Toole

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