Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff, champion of the 1997 watershed agreement, dies at 81

Prince Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff

Prince Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff, a former New York City highway commissioner, one-time head of the city’s Department of Transportation, and Environmental Protection Agency - Region 2 administrator, died last week at his home in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  The cause was esophageal cancer, according to his son, Andrew. He was 81.

Sidamon-Eristoff, known to friends and colleagues as Connie, is remembered around the region for his commitment to environmental preservation and land use planning. From the Mid-Hudson News:

Sidamon-Eristoff was the “patriarch of one of the Hudson Valley’s leading conservation families,” said Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson.

“For years, Connie has been a force for environmental conservation, for effective transportation and for good natured leadership of all kinds in the philanthropic community in the Hudson Valley and beyond,” Sullivan said.

Sidamon-Eristoff was an advocate for protecting the integrity of the New York City water supply, but also the communities affected by environmental regulations. According to his obituary in the New York Times,

In [his] role [at the EPA], he was a chief advocate for a controversial program in which New York City would receive a waiver from a federal order that all cities filter their water. Mr. Sidamon-Eristoff argued, against considerable opposition within the E.P.A. itself, that the city should compensate upstate communities for limiting development that was endangering the city’s reservoirs.

In addition to his other offices, Sidamon-Eristoff was a chairman of the Audubon Society of New York during the 1990s. A lifelong New Yorker, Sidamon-Eristoff was born into Georgian royalty. His affection for upstate New York and the New York City watershed sprang from a childhood split between New York City and Highland Falls.  He attended the Millbrook School in Dutchess County, and later went on to graduate from Columbia University. Sidamon-Eristoff is survived by his wife, a sister, three children and eight grandchildren.