Dave Blades is supervisor of the Town of Lewis, where the mining pit is located. He told the Press-Republican the land swap is important to his and nearby communities.
“It will maintain employment, and it may also increase employment,” Blades said. “Lewis has been a growing town, according to the 2010 census. I think the important thing, as the town supervisor, is that it will help maintain good-paying jobs for our local residents.
“I’ve been here 45 years, I’ve raised a family here — and two out of our three children had to leave the area for employment. So, we’re losing our young people. Anything we can do to maintain or increase employment opportunity is important, also, to the Adirondack Park.”
Environmentalists at Protect the Adirondacks don’t see the swap in the same light.
Executive Director Peter Bauer said their primary contention is lodged in what he considers a dangerous precedent.
“This is the first time we’ve had a private, for-profit corporation say they want to buy some Forest Preserve, (and) how much will it cost me?
“NYCO’s motive is three-fold: They are making a lot of money leasing their Oak Hill mine (another site in Lewis) out to Graymont Materials.
“Secondly, they are a corporation, and if they can avoid major costs of reclamation and relocating mining operations, that saves a lot of revenue. If they can expand the Lewis pit, then they will be able to defer reclamation costs into the future.
“And third, they’ve said it’s a matter of convenience. Keeping their equipment and operations going at the Lewis Mine is lot more convenient than to move over to Oak Hill.”
The state has never been approached by a private company to buy land, Bauer said.