FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE97-49
October 28, 1997
Contact: Geoffrey Ryan (718/595-5371)
City Acquires Land Near Ashokan Reservoir
Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., of the City's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that the City is acquiring the first parcels of upstate land under a program set forth in the "Watershed Memorandum of Agreement," which was signed earlier this year by the City, the watershed communities and counties, state and federal agencies, and environmental organizations. These initial acquisitions will total 113.33 acres near the Ashokan Reservoir in the Town of Olive, Ulster County.
"I am extremely pleased to kick off the City's land acquisition efforts with the purchase of these properties," said Commissioner Miele. "They are located next to one of the most important reservoirs in the City's system and rank among the highest priorities of the lands we have targeted for acquisition. Watershed protection is a top priority of the Giuliani Administration, and the City's Land Acquisition and Stewardship Program is a key component of our comprehensive efforts to protect and enhance the quality of the City's water supply."
The parcels being acquired vary in size from 7.18 to 80.65 acres. Between them, they meet all of the criteria for acquisition of watershed protection lands as set forth in the Watershed Agreement. Those criteria include lands that are partially or wholly within 1,000 feet of a reservoir or 300 feet of a stream and properties that contain wetlands, have slopes of greater than 15% or are within the 100-year flood plain. All of the properties being acquired meet the stream buffer criterion; two contain wetlands; one is within the reservoir buffer zone; and another meets both the slope and flood plain criteria.
Under the Land Acquisition and Stewardship Program, the City will spend at least $260 million to acquire, through outright purchase or conservation easement, the titles or rights to vacant, undeveloped lands within the watershed that are critical to maintaining high water quality. The City currently has purchase contracts or options to purchase over 8,000 acres from 80 landowners across the watershed.
"I want to stress three things about the program that are mandated by the Watershed Memorandum of Agreement," said Commissioner Miele. "First, the City will continue to pay taxes on the watershed lands it now owns and on all the new lands and conservation easements it acquires. Second, all purchases are made only on a willing seller/willing buyer basis. Third, the City will pay full, fair-market value for land and easements, based on appraisals by independent, certified appraisal companies."
DEP has published a brochure describing the Land Acquisition and Stewardship Program, property tax implications, conservation easements, and the locations and kinds of land the City wants to acquire. It includes a map of the watershed that delineates priority acquisition areas. Copies may be obtained by calling:
The New York City water supply system serves nearly eight million residents of the City and one million people who live in Westchester, Putnam, Orange and Ulster Counties. The source of this water, world-renowned for its high quality and excellent taste, is a 1,969-square-mile watershed in five rural counties of the Catskill Region and three suburban counties north of the City and east of the Hudson River. DEP is responsible for protecting and operating this surface water supply system, one of the largest in the world.