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December 22, 1999

Contact: Geoff Ryan (718/595-5371)

New York City Signs Purchase Contracts For Lands Near Kensico and New Croton Reservoirs

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has executed purchase contracts to acquire lands near the Kensico and New Croton Reservoirs in Westchester County, according to an announcement by DEP Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E. Both purchase contracts were executed under the historic 1997 Watershed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that enables DEP to acquire lands and conservation easements from willing sellers for water quality protection purposes throughout the watersheds of the City's reservoirs on both sides of the Hudson River.

"The land near the Kensico Reservoir is a commercially-zoned, privately- owned, 15.72-acre tract in the Town of New Castle," said Commissioner Miele. "This is a particularly significant acquisition because the property includes part of Bear Gutter Creek which flows directly into the northeastern end of the reservoir. The tract was previously proposed for development as office space, a storage warehouse and a parking lot, which would have had an adverse impact on water quality. After the acquisition is completed, the land will be preserved as an undeveloped reservoir buffer, an integral part of our comprehensive water quality protection program at the Kensico Reservoir. The open-space will also benefit the surrounding community."

"The parcel near the New Croton Reservoir in the Town of Yorktown is a privately-owned 178-acre tract that abuts City-owned lands at the reservoir as well as at Bald Mountain, a park owned by Westchester County," said Commissioner Miele. "The vacant property has beautiful views and, of course, had prime development potential. It, too, will be protected as reservoir buffer for water supply protection purposes. As a connector between the City's reservoir property and the Bald Mountain park, it has added value for area residents as open space and wildlife habitat."

"My sister and I, who own the parcel near the New Croton Reservoir, are very pleased to have signed this contract with DEP," said Mr. David Wit. "We are sure this will be very beneficial to the watershed and the fine work of the DEP."

The City has committed to spending $11.5 million to purchase lands and conservation easements in the Croton watershed, while the State of New York will spend $7.5 million. The City will also spend at least $250 million to purchase lands and easements in the watersheds of the Catskill/Delaware water supply system, which include six reservoirs west of the Hudson River as well as the Kensico, Boyd Corners and West Branch reservoirs east of the Hudson.

The property near the New Croton Reservoir is the first that the City has contracted for in the Croton System. Both City and State are now in discussions with several landowners regarding additional acquisitions in the Croton watershed. While the contract for the Bear Gutter Creek tract is the first signed in the Kensico basin, the City expects to make additional purchases there, as well as in the other reservoir basins of the Catskill/ Delaware System on both sides of the Hudson.

As of December 22nd, the City has signed purchase agreements with over 280 landowners totaling 18,500 acres throughout the entire 1,969-square mile watershed. Since October of 1997, the City has closed on 123 of these projects, bringing the total acreage acquired to 8,733 at a cost of $18.8 million.

The Land Acquisition Program involves willing seller/willing buyer agreements. The City offers to purchase lands and conservation easements at fair market value, as determined by independent, professional appraisers. The City will pay assessed property taxes on fee acquisitions and on conservation easements; the latter, however, will be proportional to the value of the easement with respect to the overall vacant property.

All lands acquired will be protected from development for water quality and supply purposes, with certain fee acquisitions opened up for public access and recreational use as appropriate. The City has already opened approximately 1,400 acres of newly acquired lands for public access to fishing and hiking, and an additional 1,000 acres for hunting. Recreational use decisions are made on a site-by-site basis with recommendations and advice provided by landowners, local towns, the Sporting Advisory Committees, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Lands under conservation easements will not be opened for public access, except in instances where such an arrangement is desired by and agreeable to the landowners.

Landowners wishing to contact the City regarding a possible sale of land or conservation easements, may call 1-800-575-LAND.


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