Photo: Bill Hecht

Auction Canceled! Next Steps to Be Determined for Largest Remaining Private Shoreline in the Finger Lakes

Update December 2, 2021:

The Finger Lakes Land Trust is under contract to purchase the Bell Station property! See the campaign page to help make it happen now!

Bell Station property on Cayuga Lake in Lansing, NY. Photo: Bill Hecht

Update September 24, 2021:

The planned October auction of the NYSEG Bell Station property has been CANCELED!

Thank you to everyone who contacted New York State and NYSEG officials in support of canceling the auction, which would have sold 470 acres including 3,400 feet of Cayuga Lake shoreline to the highest bidder without regard for conservation values.  The press release from Governor Kathy Hochul reads:

“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,” Governor Hochul said. “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.”

Please read the full press release and please thank the public officials who made this possible:  NYSEG CEO Carl Taylor, Governor Kathy Hochul, DEC Commisioner Basil Seggos, and your state assemblymembers and senators!  See ACT NOW below for their contact information.

Also stay tuned for more news from the Finger Lakes Land Trust about next steps.  You can subscribe to our monthly conservation newsletter. Thank you!

Original Story from September 9, 2021:

Dear Friends of the Finger Lakes, please get involved on this urgent action today! See “ACT NOW” below for New York State officials whom you can contact to help us permanently protect over 3,400 feet of Cayuga Lake shoreline that is imperiled by development. We seek to prevent the October auction that would sell the property to the highest bidder without regard for conservation values.

Located on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake, Bell Station is a remarkable 470-acre property that features 3,400 feet of pristine shoreline. The property was originally acquired by New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) for a nuclear power plant that was never built. Bell Station features wooded hillsides overlooking the lake, extensive fields, and several small streams with cascading waterfalls.

Bell Station is recognized as a priority project in New York State’s Open Space Plan and is specifically designated as “future public access conservation land” in the 2018 Town of Lansing Comprehensive Plan. It is the largest privately owned parcel of shoreline remaining in the Finger Lakes.

Bell Station property with Milliken Station (decommissioned) adjacent to the south. Photo: Bill Hecht

Auction for Shoreline Development

Despite these designations, NYSEG has proposed an online auction to sell Bell Station to the highest bidder, and is emphasizing the potential for shoreline development. The auction will take place in October and registration for the auction starts on September 20, 2021.

Conservation Benefits

Acquisition of the site for conservation will greatly enhance public access to the east side of Cayuga Lake, which is 90% privately owned. Permanent conservation will also prevent residential development on the steep hillsides bordering the lake, helping to safeguard the lake’s water quality and prevent harmful algal blooms. Fields on the easternmost portion of the site could provide an opportunity for a future solar energy development identified as an interest of the Town of Lansing.

For all these reasons, the Finger Lakes Land Trust has been pursuing the conservation of the Bell Station property for a number of years. Its interest is shared by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the NYSDEC has designated the Land Trust as its agent to pursue acquisition of the land.

The Land Trust intends to work together with the NYSDEC, the Town of Lansing, Tompkins County, and other key stakeholders to acquire the land and create a public wildlife management area on the lakeshore portion of the property. The wildlife management area will be owned by the state and managed by the NYSDEC for a variety of recreational uses including hiking, cross country skiing, wildlife watching, hunting, and fishing. The organization is also exploring the feasibility of utilizing the easternmost portion of the property for solar energy production.

Photo: Bill Hecht

The Land Trust has expressed its interest to NYSEG in negotiating a sale of the land that would achieve these public benefits while providing the company with fair market value compensation.

Unfortunately, the proposed auction would make it difficult to conserve the land. The Land Trust and public agencies must use written appraisals to guide the price they can offer for the purchase of real estate. Other bidders in the auction would not be similarly constrained.

The benefits of conservation, recreation, and renewable energy could be lost forever – all for a few extra dollars.


You can help!

Please contact these officials to THANK THEM for saving this gem of the Finger Lakes:

(1) Contact NYSEG President Carl Taylor

Carl Taylor, President and Chief Executive Officer NYSEG and RG&E
P.O. Box 5224, Binghamton, NY 13902-5224

(2) Contact Governor Kathy Hochul

(3) Contact NYSDEC Commissioner Basil Seggos

(4) Contact your state assemblymember and senator

Find Your NYS Senator

Find Your NYS Assemblymember