Friends of the Mahicantuck
Troy, New York
Friends of the Mahicantuck in Troy, NY brings together a diverse coalition of neighbors, community organizations, advocacy groups, and Indigenous leaders united to oppose development and protect 1011 2nd Avenue in Troy, one of the last undeveloped properties and the last waterfront forest in the city.
The land is a historically and culturally significant site for the Mahican Indigenous Peoples of the Mahicantuck River Valley, now called the Hudson River Valley. Providing critical Hudson River access for local communities, it serves as important green space as well as ecological refuge. Artifacts at the National Register-eligible site date back to 1500-3000 BC and development would destroy land sacred to the Mahican peoples, including the Schaghticoke First Nations, Lenape, and the Munsee Nations.
Developer Kevin Vandenburgh’s request to rezone the historic site to build three four-story apartment buildings, a clubhouse, boat dock area, and an underground parking lot would lead to the destruction of this land and its historical artifacts.
Friends of the Mahicantuck, founded by Sarah Bachinger, Leo Bachinger, and Jess Bennett, advocates for the protection of the land and fights the rezoning request necessary for the development to move forward — something that they see as a “clear case of spot zoning.” The group also advocates for the city to actively work with the developer on finding a better-suited alternate site at one of the many abandoned buildings and lots in direct proximity to the land they seek to protect.
Supported by 22 advocacy partners including Anthropocene Alliance, Sierra Club Mohawk Hudson Chapter, Julian Lennon’s The White Feather Foundation, TAP, Inc. (Troy Architecture Program), and Waterfall Unity Alliance, the grassroots organization sees this moment as a real opportunity. They want all involved parties to get what they want – to create a historical nature preserve and park for the community, save the land, help the city better utilize open spaces, and help the developer bring his project to the ideal site three blocks away in a manner that is more cost effective for the city as well as the developer.
Friends of the Mahicantuck support this effort through research, communications, campaign management and organizing expertise. They help mobilize expert testimony, provide outreach material and organize community members and expert participants during public hearings of the city council, planning board and planning commission.
“People are now excited in the community, getting involved in zoning issues, permitting, a 5,000 year old Indian site. They are realizing that they can make a change. They have a right to self-sufficiency and self-determination,” co-founder Leo Bachinger said.
Written by Kerri McLean
Link to audio of Sarah and Leo Bachinger discussing march on city hall
Link to audio of Jessica Bennett on efforts to bring this land into long-term preservation
Link to video urging community to let commissioners know how they feel