News Release - Mayor Seeks Council Authorization to Sell Hemlock, Canadice Lakes, Watershed Properties to N.Y. State

City of Rochester

News Release

(Thursday, March 11, 2010) – Mayor Robert J. Duffy today submitted legislation seeking City Council’s approval to sell the City’s land in the Hemlock Lake and Canadice Lake watersheds to New York State. The City is seeking authorization to sell approximately 6,832 acres of watershed properties in the Livingston County towns of Livonia, Conesus and Springwater and the Ontario County towns of Richmond and Canadice to the State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) for nearly $13.7 million.

“I want to thank Gov. Paterson and Commissioner Grannis for their foresight. This is a legacy for generations of New Yorkers to come,” said Mayor Robert J. Duffy. “This sale will not only ensure that the pristine lakes and lands surrounding them remains undeveloped, protecting Rochester’s public water supply, it will ensure that this jewel is preserved forever wild for the enjoyment of visitors and residents. This sale means revenue for the City and significantly reduces the City’s property tax burden; and with the state assuming the tax burden, the finances of the surrounding towns and agencies finances are protected.”

New York State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis said, “We are pleased to work with the City of Rochester to move forward with this very significant open space preservation initiative, which will ensure the continued protection of these extraordinary natural resources.”

In addition to authorizing the sale of land to the State, the legislation will authorize an agreement with the NYSDEC for the transfer and maintenance of the properties, as well as amendments to existing payments in lieu of tax (PILOT) agreements the City has with the towns of Livonia and Conesus, Livingston County and the Livonia School District. The legislation provides for an agreement with the NYSDEC to assume and continue payment of any remaining portions of the PILOT agreements. Approximately $6.8 million will be appropriated for Port of Rochester improvements, including a marina and the balance of funds will go into the City Water Fund for planned capital improvements and to moderate future water rate increases.

The City will retain unfettered use of the lakes as Rochester’s public water supply and the deal ensures that the City’s legacy of good stewardship of the land is maintained in terms of property maintenance and preservation standards. Two parcels of land will be retained by the City: 177 acres at the site of the filtration plant, the Hemlock Operations Center, a storage area and a park as well as 13 acres in the town of Canadice for lake access easements.

The city’s primary water supply is drawn from the two Finger Lakes, located approximately 28 miles south of Rochester. The water is distributed along a system that includes reservoirs in the town of Rush and at Highland and Cobbs Hill parks. Hemlock first supplied water to the city in 1876, with Canadice incorporated into the system in 1919. To protect the public water source, the City, over the years, purchased all property surrounding the two lakes.

City stewardship of the lakes and adjacent lands over the last century has meant that the two lakes are the only Finger Lakes that remain pristine, with no shoreline development and has provided a remote, natural atmosphere unique to the northwestern United States. Under the sale, the property will remain undeveloped. Protection of the watershed property is in accord with the N.Y. State Open Space Conservation Plan.

“In addition to our partners at the state, I would like to thank Town of Canadice Supervisor Kris Singer; Geoff Astles, Ontario County; Ian Coyle and Nick Mazza from Livingston County; Eric Gott, Supervisor, Town of Livonia; Brenda Donohue, Supervisor, Town of Conesus and The Nature Conservancy regional head Jim Howe for all their support and assistance in bringing this sale to fruition,” Mayor Duffy added.


News Media: For more information, contact City Dept. of Environmental Services Commissioner Paul Holahan at 428-6855.