Efforts to protect the agricultural landscapes of Columbia County from proliferating power lines are now a statewide concern
by Ann Morrow on March 6, 2014
Columbia County is widely famed for the beauty of its bucolic farmland, historic houses, and verdant Hudson Valley vistas. These vistas, and the county’s identity—its most important activities are agriculture and tourism—could be adversely impacted by a proposed 11.1-mile high-voltage power line that would run through the town of Ghent, bisecting multigenerational farmsteads and woods and streams, and marring the region’s picturesque viewshed. It would intrude on Art Omi’s 150-acre public sculpture park, and detract from a house dating to 1760. The 115-kilowatt transmission line would also require an unknown number of towers throughout the area. A grassroots advocacy group, Protect Ghent, was formed in opposition to the power line in 2012, when New York State Electric and Gas first proposed it.
On Feb. 25, local efforts to preserve the scenic rural character of Ghent went statewide when the Preservation League of New York State announced the addition of the historic and cultural resources of Columbia County to its 2014 Seven to Save list. The annual list designates the most threatened properties in the state. Preservation League president Jay Lorenzo made the announcement at a conference held at Omi International Arts Center, which is situated amid rolling hills and fruit orchards.
The meeting included state representatives and local residents; the director of the Columbia County Land Conservancy; Koethi Zan, executive director of Protect Ghent; and Erin Tobin, the league’s regional director for technical and grant programs. read more