Driscoll’s name lives on in Meany’s work

Kathy Meany

— Photo courtesy of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy

Peerless preserver: Altamont resident Kathy Meany will be honored by the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy for her dedication and support of conservation efforts in the Capital Region.

ALTAMONT — Kathy Meany puts her muscle where her mouth is. She doesn’t just talk about the importance of preserving open space, she has helped build trails at the Bozenkill Preserve and patrols them regularly.

Meany of Altamont will be honored by the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy with its Dan Driscoll Leadership Award at its annual awards dinner on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

The award, named after the founding board member and past president of the conservancy, is given in recognition of Meany’s dedication and support of conservation efforts in the Capital Region.

Also being honored is the late John Abbuh with the Saving Special Places Award for his significant contributions towards land conservation in the Capital Region. Abbuhl was a founding member of MHLC and an advisory board member.

Meany, who began volunteering for the conservancy in 2013 after entering semi-retirement, said of receiving the award: “Well, I am very honored by it; and I’m also humbled because the award is for community service, and I have really enjoyed the opportunity to serve my community as a volunteer.”

She also appreciated the significance of winning an award named after someone whom Meany referred to as a “visionary.”

Driscoll died in July 2016. In addition to helping create the conservancy, Driscoll served the town of Knox as drafter of its zoning ordinance, the first chairman of its planning board, and the driving force behind its comprehensive plan. He also helped lead a regional study for informed planning. In his professional life, Driscoll began his career teaching electrical engineering at Union College, before going to work for the state in a number of positions.

“I am very honored that I am being given an award that has his name attached to it,” Meany said.

 

— Photo courtesy of Kathy Meany
A job well done: Kathy Meany, right, and Laura Shore celebrate their hard work at the Bozenkill Preserve where they are volunteers. Meany is a steward of the preserve.

 

Meany is a steward of the Bozenkill Preserve. In that position, she digs trails, moves rocks, and clears brush. She is also involved with public outreach, where she promotes the conservancy and the preserve at community events like  the Altamont Strawberry Festival. In addition, she also leads hikes and works with local historians to document the human history of the land as well as recruiting and organizing other volunteers.

It was a bit of serendipity that led Meany to MHLC. As she moved from full- to part-time work in 2013, the conservancy was in the process of purchasing 154 acres of land in Altamont on Bozenkill Road, where Meany and her husband live. “I was really interested in helping, and I was able to be really involved with the development of The Bozenkill Preserve from the ground up,” she said.

As an outdoorswoman, Meany appreciates and values the open spaces that the conservancy works to protect, which is another reason she chose to volunteer. Her own experiences hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing made her not want to take those areas for granted, areas like the ones where she grew up in the Capital Region, she said.

She worries that, if those areas are taken for granted, then it won’t be long until swaths of farmland or wooded areas will be sold off to make way for a shopping plaza; or commercial property; or the development of apartments, homes, condos, or townhouses.

“I respect and understand the need for commercial and residential development, but I also have concern that the Capital District can become like so many other areas in the United States, where there is no open space — all the land has been developed,” Meany said. “Preservation of open space for public use and for the good of conservation as well as all natural resources is important of me.”

In fact, Meany said, it was because of Altamont’s character and open space, along with the village being surrounded by farm fields and wooded areas, that led her and her husband to choose Altamont as there home.

In her time at the conservancy, her appreciation for the work of not-for-profit and community-based organizations, like MHLC, has grown tremendously. “I see the need,” Meany said of the organization’s work, “and how hard they work to meet those needs, and how hard they work for the public good, and how complex their work is.”

She pointed out that a lot of not-for-profits have very limited professional staff and, even though they do wonderful work, they are very dependent on the work of volunteers. But Meany also said that not-for-profits are great way for volunteers to get involved in the community and to contribute, and, for some, it offers the opportunity to continue to use professional skills that they’ve acquired over a lifetime of work — like for her, as a former school superintendent.

Sometimes these organizations’ work is taken for granted, Meany said, “but we need the work that the people in these not-for-profits do — the public really benefits.”

 

More Regional News