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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE01-41

October 2, 2001

Contact: Geoff Ryan (718/595-6600)

New 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 Agreement.

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 County.

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.

 

More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

59-17 Junction Boulevard
19th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373

(718) 595-6600