There are few major employers in the Adirondack Park, and we must do everything we can to support them.
One of those is NYCO Minerals, which employs 105 North Country residents at their operation in the towns of Willsboro and Lewis.
Over the past two years, both houses of the New York State Legislature passed bills supporting a constitutional amendment approving a land swap between the state and the mining company that would grant access to more veins of Wollastonite, a mineral used in paint, plastics used in the automobile industry, brake pads and linings, ceramics, construction materials and more. This swap would allow NYCO to remain viable in Essex County for 10 more years. Currently, the only two Wollastonite mines in the country are located in the North Country, with one site in Lewis and one in Gouverneur.
Now it’s up to voters to seal the deal. The final step in the process to transfer the 200 acres known as Lot 8 to NYCO in exchange for 1,500 acres of company-owned property and a promise to return the 200 acres back to the state as reclaimed property is a statewide referendum which will be on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.
We urge voters to approve this exchange and vote “yes” on Proposition 5.
This appears to be a win-win situation for NYCO and New York state, plus a win for environmentalists. The state will add 1,500 acres to its Forest Preserve, property that NYCO owns but only touched to take core drilling samples which came back with no traces of the mineral they sought. In addition, the 200 acres that are being loaned to NYCO will be returned as reclaimed property, making 1,700 acres of Forever Wild land returned to the Adirondack Park.
It will be good for local municipalities as the 200 acres, currently assessed at $120,000, will now be assessed at near $1 million based on the value of the mineral deposits NYCO is seeking to extract.
It will also be good for the North Country because it will keep good jobs here. Some say NYCO can just mine up north and be content, but that would still mean the loss of 100-plus jobs from the North Country economy, jobs that are desperately needed.
The proposal has plenty of backing from nearly all sides of the issue. The measure is being supported by United Steelworkers, AFL-CIO, Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, local and state politicians and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
It has also received the blessing of the Elizabethtown-based Adirondack Council, a leader when it comes to watching out for the environmental interests of the Adirondack Park. Council officials said the additional 1,500 acres of Forest Preserve comprises better habitat for fish and wildlife, 3 miles of streams and has considerably more ecological value than the 200 acres which would be temporarily given up. Executive Director William Janeway further added that “the proposed land swap now exceeds our standard for supporting constitutional amendments involving the Forever Wild clause.”
In addition to the economic benefit, this land swap will be a win for the Adirondack Park, which will receive 1,500 acres of Forever Wild lands contributing to the beauty and serenity of the region we all call home. And we get our 200 acres back from NYCO once they are done mining. The land will be filled back in and reclaimed through seeding. There truly appears to be no losers in this proposed deal.
On Nov. 5, as you are deciding who your local elected leaders will be, please take a moment to look at the state propositions and vote in favor of the constitutional land swap between the state and NYCO.