To the editor:
Your June 22 editorial left the decision whether to support the proposed land exchange between NYCO Minerals Inc. and New York state exactly where it should be - in the hands of your readers and all of the voters of New York state.
The more than 100 Adirondackers who work at NYCO hope the voters will consider the following:
1. Is the NYCO-NYS land swap good for Adirondack jobs? Yes. By extending our wollastonite mining operations onto the state-owned land immediately bordering our existing mine, NYCO will extend the life of our Adirondack operations by eight to 10 years. This is good for our employees, many from families who've worked here for generations; good for the many other local businesses and community organizations that rely on us; and good for the local governments and schools that depend on our tax revenue.
2. Is the NYCO-NYS land swap good for the state Forest Preserve? Yes. In return for the temporary ownership of an isolated, little-used, 200-acre parcel of state land that is located immediately adjacent to an active mining operation, NYCO has agreed to give New York state 1,500 acres of prime forestland with much greater scenic and recreational attributes, and improved access to the Jay Mountain Wilderness. Then, when NYCO's mining operations are complete, we'll reclaim and replant the 200 acres and return those to the state Forest Preserve as well.
3. Does the NYCO-NYS land swap create a dangerous precedent? No. The New York State Constitution says that land can be removed from the Forest Preserve if approved by two consecutively elected state legislatures and the state's voters. Opponents say approval may lead many other businesses to propose similar trades. Perhaps, but at the end of the day, the only swaps that will happen are those that future legislatures and voters believe make sense. There's nothing dangerous about that; it's called democracy.
Because the NYCO-New York land exchange protects jobs and open space at no cost to taxpayers, the proposal has won unprecedented bipartisan support. It is backed by Gov. Cuomo, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens, the New York AFL-CIO, the United Steelworkers, the Adirondack Council, the Adirondack Mountain Club, Congressman Bill Owens, Sen. Betty Little, Assemblyman Dan Stec, Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages, the Essex County Board of Supervisors, the North Country Regional Economic Development Council and former Assembly member Teresa Sayward, among others.
We hope that voters here in the Adirondacks and across New York state will see this proposal is good for the Adirondacks and good for New York.
NYCO Minerals Inc.