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Vote No on Proposition Five

By Anthony F. Hall

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A multi-national corporation wants to strip mine the Forest Preserve. Voters shouldn’t permit it.

If voters approve Proposition Five, NYCO Minerals, Inc will take 200 acres of Forest Preserve to expand one of its its mines

To receive the trust of a community, whether you’re an individual, a family or a business, you must have demonstrated, over a long period of time, both a knowledge of and a respect for that community. NYCO Minerals, Inc., the Canadian-based, multi-national corporation that owns a mine and a processing plant in the Adirondack Park and which seeks to persuade New Yorkers to approve a  constitutional amendment that would allow it to trade 1,500 acres of subprime lands for 200 acres of old growth, constitutionally protected Forest Preserve lands, has demonstrated neither.  It amused us, several years ago, to see a public relations piece from the corporation boasting of its relationship with “the Northeast Kingdom.” The Northeast Kingdom, of course, is a section of Vermont, and not that section of the Adirondack Park where the corporation owns its mines and plant. (It also owns mines and plants in Missouri and Mexico.) Granted, that gaffe is insufficient reason for  voting against the land swap, which NYCO claims is necessary if it is to continue its operations in the Adirondacks. The 200 acres of Forest Preserve which the company seeks, it says, may have the deposits of wollastonite it needs to remain in business for another eight to ten years. While the promotional piece betrays an ignorance of the region from which the company extracts minerals, there are other, more serious reasons to doubt the company’s trustworthiness. For one thing, it has failed to demonstrate a concern for the community. In 1998, it won a permit from the Adirondack Park Agency to open a new surface mine in the area, over the objections of local residents who argued that  additional truck traffic between the mine and the plant would  create safety hazards and damage the country roads. The corporation  declined to consider alternatives, asserting that it would have to purchase more gasoline, which would reduce its profits. The corporation claimed at the time that if it did not receive a permit from the APA to open the new mine, it would be forced to leave the Adirondacks and take its jobs with it. It now claims that it will leave if it doesn’t receive access to the Forest Preserve lands. Why would a reasonable person believe it, or give it the benefit of the doubt, especially when the Forest Preserve is at stake? For it is not merely 200 acres that are at stake; so, too, is the integrity of Article XIV, which guarantees that Forest Preserve lands will remain forever wild. If one corporation wins the right to sieze those lands, what’s to prevent another corporation from attempting something similar? NYCO Minerals, Inc.  has not demonstrated to the residents of the Adirondack Park Park that its narrow interests are more important than our own, or that its desire for profits is worth risking the legacy of every New Yorker.

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