The State Assembly late Wednesday approved first passage of a resolution to amend the New York State Constitution and allow for a land exchange that will help NYCO Mineral, Inc. continue its wollastonite mining operation in Essex County. The Senate passed the resolution Tuesday.
The concurrent resolution, sponsored by Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward and Senator Betty Little, will need to be approved again next year or the year after by a separately elected State Legislature before going before voters on a statewide ballot, potentially in November 2013.
“NYCO Minerals has operated their mining operation in Willsboro, NY since 1953 and is the 3rd largest employer in Essex County,” said Sayward. “This Amendment will assure continued operations benefiting both the Adirondack economy and the Forest Preserve. Governor Cuomo, DEC Commissioner Martens and the Adirondack Mountain Club are to be commended for their efforts in assisting us through the process and to first passage."
“NYCO is one of our biggest employers in Essex County and their continued success is vitally important to those who work there, their families and many other businesses in the area,” said Senator Betty Little. “This proposed amendment would help ensure their operation can continue in the years ahead and, in exchange, property of better recreational value would be added to the State Forest Preserve for the benefit of all New Yorkers. I thank Governor Andrew Cuomo and Commissioner Joe Martens for recognizing the economic importance of NYCO and working on this sensible compromise.”
According to the lawmakers, the approximately 200-acre property, known as Lot 8, is owned by the Department of Environmental Conservation. It is adjacent to the existing NYCO mine. Following exploratory drilling on the property, DEC would appraise the value of the lot and NYCO would be required to buy a parcel of equal or greater value for inclusion in the Forest Preserve, at a cost not less than $1 million.
Lot 8 has poor public access and offers little recreational or natural resource value. The exchange parcel, which would need to be approved by the State Legislature, would be evaluated to ensure superior recreational and public access value.
NYCO expects to mine less than half of the 200-acre Lot 8 parcel. Following completion of the mining operation, NYCO would be required to restore the property to make it compatible with the surrounding forest and it would be conveyed back to the State for inclusion into the Forest Preserve.