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NYSEG Calls Off Bell Station Auction

ENDWELL, NY (WSKG) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday afternoon New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) will cancel its auction of its 470-acre property adjoining Cayuga Lake following public consternation toward the move.

Earlier this month, NYSEG announced it would auction off the Bell Station property, including its 3,400 feet of undeveloped shoreline, the largest such span on Cayuga Lake. The move to auction off the land elicited pushback from officials and organizations, including a unanimous resolution in opposition from the Tompkins County Legislature.

In a press release Friday, the governor’s office announced NYSEG would call off the auction and that several state agencies would begin efforts to preserve the property.

"I thank NYSEG for stepping up and being a good corporate citizen by willingly agreeing to cancel the land auction,” Hochul wrote in the announcement. “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."

Local leaders also sounded off in appreciation and support of the Hochul’s move.

"The key was just to get the auction just put off and then we can work through this to see where we can end up. I'm really happy frankly to see that she's involved,” Tompkins County Legislator Mike Sigler, whose district includes Bell Station, told WSKG Thursday.

New York Assemblymember Anna Kelles (D-125) and State Senator Pamela Helming (R-54) also represent the property and actively pushed the state to intervene.

“The public input here makes a huge huge difference,” Kelles said in a meeting with county legislators earlier this week. “And it might feel boring as something to do, but we really have reached out to everyone who is relevant.”

How exactly the land will be sold and designated is not totally clear at this point. The Finger Lakes Land Trust* has been eyeing the property for conservation for several years and had planned to bid in NYSEG’s auction.

*Full Disclosure: The Finger Lakes Land Trust is a WSKG Underwriter.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.