Press-Republican

Environment

June 20, 2013

State OKs NYCO land swap; voter approval needed

WILLSBORO — New York state voters will weigh in on a land swap designed to help NYCO Minerals stay in business.

For the second session in two consecutive years, both the State Senate and Assembly passed a measure to amend the State Constitution, allowing NYCO to trade 1,507 acres of forestland in Essex County for temporary access to 200 acres of state land adjoining the firm’s wollastonite mine in the Town of Lewis.

The Assembly passed the measure Wednesday. It earned Senate approval on June 11.

The amendment does not need approval from the governor because it goes to popular vote, according to the State Constitution.

BIPARTISAN SUPPORT

The process for mining and crushing wollastonite was invented at the company’s home office here in 1953.

In a statement issued Wednesday, NYCO said the property next to the mine is a likely source of the rare mineral.

“NYCO proposes to explore for and, if possible, capture (wollastonite), a large reserve of which is believed to exist under Lot 8 (in Lewis).”

If the mineral is not present there, the mining company would reclaim and return the 200 acres to the Forest Preserve.

“NYCO and its 100 employees are pleased — and relieved — that the New York State Assembly and Senate have approved legislation to allow New York voters to decide this fall on a proposed land exchange between the company and the state,” the company said in a prepared statement.

The land swap protects jobs at NYCO while expanding property held in the Adirondack Park Forest Preserve.

The deal drew support from both parties in the legislature, as well as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens.

Assembly members Dan Stec (R-Glens Falls) and Janet Duprey (R-Peru) both support the swap, along with Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury).

‘TOTALLY CONTRARY’

Some environmental groups also said the deal is fair, especially since it maintains much-needed jobs and commerce in the Adirondack Park.

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