Press-Republican

In My Opinion

September 27, 2013

In My Opinion: Land swap a win-win for all

This Election Day, Adirondackers and people across New York state will have an opportunity to demonstrate that good jobs and a healthy environment can successfully co-exist — right here in our backyard.

By voting yes for the Adirondack land swap, which will be Proposition 5 on the statewide ballot, New York voters will help protect 100 good-paying Adirondack jobs and add 1,500 acres of new public recreational lands to the Adirondack Forest Preserve at no cost to taxpayers.

NYCO Minerals has been an employer in the Essex County towns of Willsboro and Lewis for more than a half-century.

NYCO mines a mineral called wollastonite from its surface mine in Lewis, then takes it to its Willsboro plant, where it is processed for use in plastics, construction materials, paints and many other items we all use every day.

But NYCO’s Lewis mine is almost out of material; it has only a few years left.

To help NYCO continue its Adirondack operations in a competitive manner and keep people working, New York state is willing to swap the company 200 acres of Forest Preserve land (known as Lot 8), which is right next to NYCO’s existing mine and is thought to have another eight to 10 years’ supply of wollastonite on it.

In return for this 200 acres, NYCO will give New York 1,500 acres of land that the state can add to the Forest Preserve and open for public recreation. This land has more recreational attributes than Lot 8 and provides improved access to the southern and eastern portions of the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area.

When NYCO finishes mining on the 200 acres, the company will reclaim and replant the land and return it to state ownership.

The math is really quite simple: NYCO gets temporary access to 200 acres, the Forest Preserve gains 1,500 acres, and the jobs of 100 local people — our neighbors, taxpayers and community volunteers — are protected.

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