FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE01-41
Contact: Geoff Ryan
York City Contracts For Conservation Easement and Land In Kensico and New
Croton Reservoir Watersheds
New York City has signed purchase contracts to acquire land owned by the
Chiselhurst Corporation in both the Kensico and Croton watersheds in Westchester
County, according to an announcement by Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E.,
of the City's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The property to
be acquired is principally in the Town of New Castle and mostly in the Kensico
Reservoir basin. The acquisition includes a conservation easement on 120 acres,
as well as a fee-simple purchase of 14.8 acres.
"We are pleased to be taking this significant step forward in protecting
the Kensico Reservoir, one of the City's most important assets," said
Commissioner Miele. "The larger parcel had been considered by the landowner
for various development projects over the past decade. By signing these contracts,
however, Chiselhurst officials have clearly demonstrated their willingness
and interest in negotiating a deal at fair market value with the City and
I want to thank them for their cooperation."
Of the total 135 acres to be secured under the newly signed purchase contract,
all are in high priority zones of their respective reservoirs -- roughly 120
acres in the Kensico basin and 15 in the New Croton watershed. The conservation
easement allows a maximum of only three residences to be built on the 120-acre
parcel, with the vast majority of the land dedicated to open space and protection
of water quality. Added to 35 acres already acquired or placed under contract,
this deal makes for a total of 155 acres that the City has secured to date
in the Kensico basin under provisions of the 1997 Watershed Memorandum of
Town of New Castle Supervisor Marion Sinek said, "We are delighted
to see this extraordinarily sensitive piece of watershed property preserved
from future development, thanks to the joint efforts of DEP, New Castle Town
and Planning Boards, open space advocates and the property owners. The Town
played a catalytic role when former Supervisor Clinton Smith hosted several
meetings between DEP and the Sellers during early negotiations."
Commissioner Miele said, "I want to emphasize that this acquisition
is just the latest in the City's continuing campaign to secure hydrologically
sensitive lands throughout the watersheds of its reservoirs. As with all of
the City's watershed land acquisitions, conservation easements are purchased
only from willing sellers who want to take advantage of this unique program.
All acquisitions, whether by easement or fee-simple purchase, are arranged
at fair market value as established by independent, professional appraisers."
Under DEP's Conservation Easement Program, landowners continue to own and
use their property, but forgo the rights to develop it further through a sale
of those rights at fair market value to DEP. In addition to paying for the
development rights, the City will pay a share of the property taxes on each
easement it acquires. The City's tax share is determined by the percentage
of full market value that the sold development rights represent. For instance,
if the removal of development rights reduces a parcel's value as vacant land
by 62%, the City would pay 62% of the annual tax bill (in addition to the
purchase price paid to the landowner). The percentage of value is set by independent
appraisers, hired by the City, and differs based on each property's specific
characteristics, appraised value and development potential.
Since 1997, the City has secured nearly 33,000 acres of land throughout
the watersheds of its Catskill and Delaware System reservoirs in Delaware,
Dutchess, Greene, Putnam, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester Counties.
An additional 732 acres have been secured in the Croton System in Westchester
The New York City Water Supply System provides excellent quality drinking
water to over nine million consumers in New York City and Westchester, Putnam,
Orange and Ulster Counties, plus the millions of commuters and tourists who
visit the City every year.
For more information, or to receive an information packet on the City's
Land Acquisition and Conservation Easement Programs, landowners can contact
the Land Acquisition and Stewardship Program at 1-800-575-LAND.