New York City DEP has presented a draft of their future plans to run thru 2022 for purchasing land.
This is the first of many documents to be forthcoming from the NYC DEP. This document focuses on the purchasing of land in the Catskill watershed area. Many citizens of the Mountaintop have become increasing concerned on the DEP's increased ownership of land and ever increasing restrictions of their neighbors.
Local governments are becoming concerned about how it will affect their tax base, and how they will be able to operate their towns without significantly increasing taxes on the existing citizens. Local builders are concerned that their ever increasing regulations are making it impossible to build new homes or improve existing ones. Local citizens are concerned that they will be driven out of the communities that they love and cherish. Some of the wealthier citizens are using the opportunity to drive out poorer citizens to create a Billionaire playground in the Platte Clove Valley.
NYC DEP has opened up some limited amounts of land to limited public use to reduce public outcry of oppression and locking out of NYS land purchases to the Forest Preserve. But, the condition of this policy is that the DEP changed the policy as a, "We'll see how it works out". Over the past 100 years, NYC has made concessions to the local community when they wanted something from the public. But, after they got what they wanted, they removed those concessions. There are many who believe that this concession is only temporary. Based upon history, this is probably will turn out to be true.
There is a significant amount of State land that is essentially "land-locked", and the DEP purchases will probably have a significant impact in the future.
The NYC DEP continues to allege that the significant amount of land purchases in the Catskills is for water quality control. The DEP has stated that they are purchasing the land in lieu of building a new filtration plant. Instead they have chosen to become enriched at the expense of local residents. It is the DEP's goal to control all human activities on all land in the Catskills either by direct purchase of land, or by forcing local residents into a written agreement.
Presently NYC DEP now owns or controls approximately 10 percent of the land, and they plan on increasing this to 24-to-34 percent.
The NYC DEP in now proposing that they will continue the follow plans thru 2022:
1. Continue to purchase land thru real estate companies and by direct solicitation of land owners.
2. Increase the percentage of land ownership and control of land to approximately 24-to-34 percent from the existing 10 percent.
3. Create new and better selection process to land purchases to maximize their goals.
4. Work with local communities to help achieve their above stated goals.
5. Create new and better goals of to promote the use of these lands for the long term.
The NYC DEP plans on achieving these goals by:
1. Create a program where they contact existing land owners more often to pressure them into selling land to the DEP.
2. Focus on purchasing land next to existing owned DEP land thru smaller land purchases.
3. Allow more conservation easements, but reduce existing land use.
The three areas that the NYC DEP will focus on will be the Schoharie, Pepacton and Cannonsville water basins. Theses three basins represents a majority of the land that supplies water to NYC and surrounding areas.
The Schoharie Basin has approximately 200,895 acres, and the DEP has acquiring 19,001 acres ($57,385,000.00) They will acquire approximately another 40,000 acres thru 2022. They will have a high focus on the Schoharie creek and tributaries, and the Johnson Hollow Brook.
The Pepacton Basin (along Rt 28) had 18,531 acres ($40,602,000.00) purchased since 1997.
The Cannonsville Basin had 12,791 acres ($37,465,000.00) purchased since 1997.
In 2006 NYC DEP stated that they had the need for new water sources. They have yet to mention where this new reservoir would be located. Rumors continue that this location will be from west of Tannersville and continue west to the junction to Spuceton Valley. There are also rumors that when Orville Slutskey dies, Hunter Mtn will be purchased by the DEP. But, Hunter Mtn is now moving to add more slopes and chair lifts to meet future needs. Over the past couple of years, it has been open knowledge that Hunter Mtn was for sale. But, it now appears that it may no longer be fore sale. If Hunter Mtn was sold to the DEP this would open the door to the purchase of the rest of the valley by Eminent Domain. Wealthy people have been purchasing land in the Platte Clove Valley in anticipation of the possibility of a new reservoir. Only those with assets of a Billion dollars will be welcome. No matter what happens, there will be winners and losers in this game of speculation. People who live along Rt 16 in Platte Clove have been receiving letters with offers to purchase their land and homes. Another rumor is that Tannersville will have to increase taxes on local residents, and this will drive them out of the area.