There is no doubt that the upstate economy needs the attention of the legislature in Albany. This November, most voters will be focused on the measures related to controversial casino gambling. Unshackle Upstate will continue to fight for the interests of the upstate New York economy. However, there is an important constitutional measure that can provide for upstate employment in a remote area of the Adirondacks that requires voters’ attention and support at the ballot box. Both the State Senate and Assembly have previously passed a measure to amend the State Constitution allowing NYCO Minerals to trade 1,507 acres of forestland in Essex County for temporary access to 200 acres of state land adjoining the firm’s wollastonite mine in the Town of Lewis. This measure requires the approval of the voters so that it may occur.
Wollastonite is a rare mineral with very few active mines across the globe. Wollastonite when processed into a powder is utilized to strengthen plastics, paints and adhesives. It has a variety of industrial and consumer applications such as the fabrication of car parts, construction materials, ceramics and sealants, among many other uses. NYCO Minerals began mining wollastonite long before the Adirondack Park Agency Act went into effect along with the State Land Master Plan in 1972. The company maintains a workforce of 102 employees with an annual payroll of close to $6 million in an economically depressed area in Essex County where jobs are critical. There is a fear that many downstate voters will vote down ANY proposals that threaten state forest lands, but this brokered land deal is a responsible land swap that expands the forest preserve by 1,300 acres yet preserves important regional jobs in Essex County. Please support this state constitutional measure which will appear on the November ballot.