Zainab Magdon-Ismail is the newly appointed chair of the Conservation Advisory Council. The CAC’s charter is to maintain the town’s open space inventory and promotes interest in the environment. It also hosts an annual Arbor Day in May and for the first time this year is sponsoring an Earth Day on April 23. Under direction of Supervisor Peter Crummey, the body is to take a more active role in the “green” aspects of town government. Zainab has a background is healthcare and lives in Loudonville with her husband and four children.
Q: What got you involved in the CAC and why do you think its mission is so important?
A: Being a long-time resident of the area, my family and I have enjoyed the parks and open spaces in Colonie. There is so much potential and I am honored to serve the administration of Supervisor Peter Crummey and to be part of the effort to improve, preserve and beautify the town for generations to come.
Q: This year the CAC is directly involved in the town’s decision to host an Earth Day on April 23. What do you hope to accomplish on Earth Day?
A: Our goal is to work with the Parks and Recreation Department to enhance the biking and walking trails focusing initially on the Mohawk River Park. I am glad to report that the major impetus for this initiative came directly from the community itself and we are working with the Friends of Colonie Town Park Trails and some town youth groups for the clean-up.
Q: How else do you envision the CAC expanding its role in the town?
A: Our key goal for this upcoming year is to conduct an environmental scan of the town and prioritize the action items that would best preserve the town’s green footprint. We would like to inform the residents that our meetings at Town Hall are open to the public (schedule is listed on the town website.) We welcome suggestions from residents who we view as our eyes and ears.
Q: Development, or perceived over development, has been an issue over the past few years in Colonie. How can the CAC help to balance the benefits of having and maintaining open space and the legal rights of property owners to develop?
A: It is a careful balance. The CAC is tasked with reviewing development and landscape plans of new construction/renovations and as a committee we conduct site visits and provide guidance on how to sustain and/or increase green space. This includes recommendations regarding trees that should be preserved as well as what types of plantings may do well in certain areas.
Q: You have worked in health care for a number of years, do you think our system will change because of COVID-19 and if so how? If not, why not?
A: We acknowledge how COVID has destabilized our way of life. As it relates to the CAC, this has highlighted how important it is to vigorously maintain our open spaces, parks and trails which have been an invaluable resource during this trying time. For example, use of the biking trails in and around the Mohawk River Park increased five-fold from 2016-2020. It is also so gratifying to see the packs of teens as they enjoy riding their bikes around Colonie. We have a fantastic opportunity to seize this momentum and create safe spaces — a little less social media and a little more fresh air for all!
If you know someone you would like to see featured in five questions contact Jim Franco at [email protected] or 518-878-1000.