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April 3, 2001

Contact: Geoff Ryan (718/595-6600)

New York City Purchases 178 Acres In Yorktown For Watershed Protection

Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that the City has purchased a 178-acre property in Yorktown. The parcel abuts City-owned, buffer land at the New Croton Reservoir and Westchester County's 112-acre John E. Hand Park at Bald Mountain. The acquisition is part of the City's effort to protect watershed land under the 1997 Watershed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), and represents the first of several expected acquisitions in the New Croton Reservoir basin. The property is characterized by rolling topography, fields, forest and areas that slope down to the reservoir.

"We are pleased that the landowner decided to sell this undeveloped site to the City," said Commissioner Miele. "The property drains directly into the New Croton Reservoir, where protection of water quality is particularly important because water from the eleven other reservoirs of the Croton System collects there before flowing to the City's distribution system"

Commissioner Miele added, "I am also pleased to say that the overall response of willing sellers to the City's fair-market-value purchase offers has been overwhelmingly positive. To date, the City has signed purchase agreements with over 400 landowners on more than 30,000 acres throughout the watershed, which includes much of the Catskill Mountain Region as well as portions of Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester Counties."

The acquired land is in Priority "A" of the Croton system, for which the City has committed $11.5 million for land acquisition. Under the MOA, the City considers public access to newly acquired properties and what kinds, if any, of passive recreational purposes may be appropriate for the individual sites.

"We have determined that this parcel is suitable for hiking and we expect to open it in 2002 to members of the public with DEP hiking permits," said Commissioner Miele.

Under provisions of the MOA, New York City is acquiring watershed lands that are important for the protection of drinking water quality. The program involves willing seller/willing buyer agreements, with the City offering to purchase lands and conservation easements at fair market value. The City will make property tax payments based on the fair market value of the acquisitions. Lands acquired will be protected for water quality purposes, with certain properties opened up for public access and recreational use. Information about the City's Land Acquisition and Conservation Easement programs is available at 1-800-575-LAND (5263).

Although this particular parcel will not be open for hiking until 2002, other City-owned properties in Putnam County and in the West-of-Hudson watersheds are available for hiking and fishing to members of the public with DEP Hiking Permits. Applications for permits are available online at www.nyc.gov/dep, from 1-800-575-LAND (5263), at DEP offices, and in the town halls of municipalities that contain City-owned properties opened for access.


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