FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE06-29
Ian Michaels – DEP (718) 595-6600
Tom Andersen – Westchester Land Trust (914) 241-6346
Eagle River Property Acquired By Partnership of New York City,
Somers, Westchester County and New York State
Single Open Space Purchase Ever In Westchester
A partnership of New York City, the Town of Somers, Westchester
County and New York State yesterday completed the acquisition of
the 654-acre Eagle River property, creating a new nature sanctuary
that protects drinking water supplies and wildlife habitat, and
providing miles of new recreational trails for residents.
The property was acquired from a private corporation for $20.5
million, the appraised fair market value.
The partnership involves acquisition of 269 acres by the New York
City Department of Environmental Protection and acquisition of
385 acres jointly by the Town of Somers and Westchester County. A
conservation easement on all but 15 acres is to be conveyed to
the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The property has been the target of local conservation interests
for years, and is located entirely in the drainage basin of the
Muscoot Reservoir of New York City’s Croton water system. The
Westchester Land Trust has worked diligently with the parties to
forge the alliance that led to the protection of the 654 acres.
The acquisition is thought to be the largest single open space
purchase in Westchester’s history – only a few other
protected areas such as Ward Pound Ridge are larger, but these
were assembled piecemeal over time. Much of the property
will become a park called the Angle Fly Preserve, named after the
brook that bisects it.
New York City’s portion will be managed by the Department
of Environmental Protection as protected watershed land, helping
to ensure continued high-quality drinking water from the Croton
system for millions of New York City and Westchester residents. The
City’s land comprises the westernmost portion of the property
and was acquired for $9.44 million.
Commissioner Emily Lloyd of the Department of Environmental Protection
said, “The City is pleased to play a leadership role in securing
this unique property. The funding for this project was dedicated
by Mayor Bloomberg, and we could not be more pleased that it was
used so quickly to leverage protection of such a large and threatened
property. We appreciate the dedication of our partners to
this project and look forward to other such efforts to protect
vacant land in the Croton system.”
Under terms of the 1997 Watershed Memorandum of Agreement, the
City will convey a conservation easement to New York State and
will pay assessed property taxes on its acquisition. Passive
recreational activities may be allowed on the City’s 269
acres after a full assessment by the DEP.
The Town and County will jointly own 370 acres, with the Town
contributing $4 million and the County contributing $4 million
toward the purchase.
To ensure that the jointly-owned property will never be developed,
New York State will receive a conservation easement on the land
for its $3.2 million contribution.
Ball fields are permissible on a specific small portion of the
jointly-held property. Any recreation fields will be owned
jointly by the Town of Somers and Westchester County. Somers
residents will have first rights to use the recreation fields,
with County residents having access at other times. The Town
of Somers will have sole right and responsibility to manage the
entire jointly-held property. The Town of Somers will also
independently own 15 acres upon which active recreation facilities
such as a community center may be built.
The purchase ends efforts by the prior owner, ICC Bridgeport LP/Eagle
River LP, to build a subdivision of large homes on the land. The
acquisition includes all of the land proposed for development plus
an additional 30 acres of noncontiguous land on Orchard Hill Road.
The acquisition will protect a key section of the Croton watershed,
140 acres of federal, state and local wetlands, and a vast wildlife
habitat of countywide significance. It provides miles of
new hiking trails and the potential for trail linkages to the county’s
Lasdon Park and elsewhere. Because the property represents
three percent of the total area of Somers, the acquisition protects
a tract of land that is essential to the Town’s character.
“This open space preservation acquisition is a huge step
toward assuring that Somers remains a beautiful and livable community
and can only be described as a dream come true,” said Town
Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy. “Not only is the size
of the property unique but the extraordinary partnership of four
levels of government and a not-for-profit banding together
to accomplish this incredible win for the environment and our water
supply is itself extraordinary.”
Negotiations started in 2004 after the Town hired Westchester
Land Trust to work on the acquisition. The Land Trust worked
with Town residents to come up with a plan for the property, assisted
with negotiating the deal with the owners’ representatives,
and helped build the coalition necessary to complete the transaction.
“The partners aimed extraordinarily high on this, and then
worked hard to achieve that goal – we couldn’t be more
please and proud to be a part of it,” said Westchester Land
Trust Executive Director Paul Gallay. “This is a great achievement
for residents of Somers and the county, as well as for the State
and the City.”