LANSING, N.Y.—In a press release Friday afternoon, advocates for protecting the “Bell Station” property in Lansing received the news they were hoping for. Governor Kathy Hochul’s office has secured an agreement with the New York State Electric and Gas Corporation (NYSEG) to cancel the planned auction of the property next month.

The auction for the 470-acre property was set to occur on Oct. 11, and has been cited as a priority for conservation and watershed protection efforts. NYSEG had been set to place the property up for sale to the highest bidder, an effort that had drawn concern and requests to reconsider the auction from a bipartisan slate of local and state elected officials, including Assemblywoman Anna Kelles (D) and State Senator Pam Helming (R).

“Bell Station Landing is the largest privately-owned shoreline in the Finger Lakes region, and as we contend with the consequences of humans’ impact on our environment, we must consider ways to protect and preserve this unique property for future generations,” says the press release with a statement attributed to Governor Hochul. “I thank NYSEG for stepping up and being a good corporate citizen by willingly agreeing to cancel the land auction. Private development could have irreparably damaged this environmentally sensitive property, and if the auction proceeded, the opportunity to preserve the land for conservation and public access could have been lost forever.”

According to the announcement, with the auction cancellation agreed to, Hochul’s office is directing the Department of Public Service (DPS), the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to facilitate permanent protection of this parcel and maximize public access. NYSEG will remain owner of the land for the time being.

The Finger Lakes Land Trust has offered a protection plan for the property that involves a public wildlife management area with trails and low-impact recreational uses closer to the lake and the installation of solar arrays on the easternmost end of the property. The FLLT has also stated they are ready and willing to pay fair-market price for the land. The announcement from the governor’s office does not indicate at this time if the FLLT’s plan will be pursued or if alternatives will be sought.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.