Westmere Terrace residents mourn what was lost every time they look down the street

— Photo from Iris Broyde

“What we got on Westmere Terrace was a berm, a fence, and a smattering of fledgling trees,” writes Iris Broyde. “It satisfied the very minimum of what needed to be provided to pass muster for SEQR [State Environmental Quality Review] approval.”

To the Editor:

On Thursday, May 18, a groundbreaking ceremony took place to laud the beginning of construction for the Apex at Crossgates apartment complex.

I was not in attendance at this event, so I am making some assumptions about what transpired. But that is immaterial. The fact that it happened at all, is what I would like to call attention to.

On the other side of the berm and fence, at the south end of the property line of the Apex Complex, lies Westmere Terrace. A small, long-established neighborhood of 30 single-family homes, some of which date back decades.

Some of the residents who have called this street their home, have been here for 20 to 40 years. We look after each other. I have been a homeowner here for 30 years.

The defining feature at the end of Westmere Terrace, was a magnificent stately willow tree. Beyond it, behind a wooden fence, a woodland viewshed. That is what was here, our street, our neighborhood.

The Apex apartment complex, formerly the Rapp Road apartment complex of Pyramid Corp. has been steeped in controversy. For neighboring areas, it was about incompatibility with surroundings, the intrusive encroachment of five-story apartment buildings with the proximity to overlook homes and yards, among other things.

For the environmentally focused, it was about threats to the ecosystem of the pine bush and the decimation of acres of mature woodlands.

The location of this project necessitated that Pyramid incorporate a barrier between the complex and adjacent residential streets with the supposed purpose of preserving/protecting the integrity of those neighborhoods.

What we got on Westmere Terrace was a berm, a fence, and a smattering of fledgling trees. It satisfied the very minimum of what needed to be provided to pass muster for SEQR [State Environmental Quality Review] approval.

In “negotiations” with the Pyramid representatives, any deviation from this one determined idea, to perhaps push back a few yards and at least spare our willow, a nod that would genuinely have approached an effort to preserve the integrity of the street, was flatly rejected.

The United Development Group, which took over the project from Pyramid, downsized the complex from three five-story apartment buildings to two, thus enabling an increased distance from Westmere Terrace of 300 feet rather than the originally proposed 150 feet.

Perhaps if we had been working with the United Development Group from the inception of site-plan development, the distance between the end of Westmere Terrace and the boundary may have been reconfigured to spare what could well have been nominated as a “heritage tree.”

But there was to be no amending of the site plan further than reconfiguring the apartment buildings. The result is not so much preservation as it is sequestering. It is claustrophobic.

It is a wall and, when the five-story apartment buildings are erected, it will be a wall with the top three stories of the apartment buildings as our viewshed — the additional 150 feet notwithstanding.

This is what was being celebrated on the other side. Nowhere in the recent history of rampant development in Guilderland do I recall a fanfare to groundbreaking when the digging commenced. This was an oddity.

I have no doubt that, during the proceedings, there was mention of how long this project has taken to get underway. That’s because there were those who were truly invested in preserving the quality of life for residents and natural resources of this town who took to the courts to stop it.

The appellate court ruled that the town was not obligated to compel Pyramid to make the best decisions, only to ensure that their actions/plans were within the law. And our town supervisor celebrated that decision, upholding the freedom to not have to do the right thing.

That is the history here. An out-of-the-ordinary exhibition to applaud it was in the poorest of taste and breathtaking in its insensitivity to residents who can only mourn what was lost every time they look down the end of the street.

To those who gleefully participated, shame on you.

Iris Broyde


JDKline64's picture
Joined: 08/30/2022 - 11:08
Missing the Willow Tree

I grew up on Westmere Terrace. My parent's had a home on the street for 48 years (1968-2016). I recently drove by the street and looked down. I could easily identify my parents' former house by its white picket fence as I drove by. However, something seemed wrong and out of place. The house seemed closer to the far end of the street than I remembered. A few days later, I ventured down my old street to see what it was that was out of place. Of course, I had seen the high berm with its stark white fence atop the berm as I drove by the street. The berm raised so high it dwarfed the dip in the road leading to the turn around; making it appear much closer to Western Avenue than it really is. But what really caught my eye as I drove down the street was that the trees beyond my parent's former home had been removed-not only in background but on many of my former neighbor's front lawns. This is want made it appear to me that end of the street was far short than it had been. And after reading this, I recognize that I really miss the willow tree of my youth that stood on the former Gipp farm. I truly mourn its loss.

More Letters to the Editor

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.