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Voters to Decide Fate of Two Constitutional Amendments in NY

New York State Capitol

The New York state Legislature has given final approval for two Adirondack land swaps.  But because they affect land within the forest preserve, voters across the state must now approve constitutional amendments.

The amendments to New York’s constitution involve public Forest Preserve lands within the Adirondack Park. The first resolves around a century-old property dispute between New York and about 200 landowners in the Town of Long Lake. Adirondack Council Spokesman John Sheehan says the amendment is fair to both sides.

The second amendment is more controversial. It authorizes a land swap with NYCO Minerals of Willsboro to expand its wollastonite mine in Lewis, in Essex County.  NYCO spokesman John Brodt says the company has been doing business for about 60 years and faces a crossroads. The current mine, which extracts the white, non-metallic mineral, has only about three to four years of material remaining.

Credit NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
NYCO Minerals map - Essex County

NYCO would then mine on the adjoining property, which would extend its operations by eight to 10 years.  Upon completion, the land would be reclaimed and donated back to the state. Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth closely reviewed the proposal before deciding to support the plan.

Protect the Adirondacks Executive Director Peter Bauer says the NYCO Minerals land exchange is a bad idea.

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve Partner Dave Gibson opposes the NYCO amendment because he says it does not prove a critical public need.

Because both land exchanges affect the Forever Wild clause of the state constitution, they must be approved through a state constitutional amendment.  The Legislature has completed its portion of the process, and the measures will appear on the statewide ballot in November.