Skip to content
Home » Schuyler County » Watkins Glen » Padua Ridge sand and gravel mine next to Watkins Glen State Park wants to quintuple in size; February hearings set

Padua Ridge sand and gravel mine next to Watkins Glen State Park wants to quintuple in size; February hearings set

  • / Updated:
  • Peter Mantius 

The owner of the 14.3-acre Padua Ridge sand and gravel mine that abuts the Watkins Glen State Park and a Catholic cemetery above the village is proposing 60.95-acre expansion, the state Department of Environmental Conservation disclosed Thursday.

The DEC said it plans a pair of public hearings on the project in February.

Mining at the site began in the 1970s. Excavated sand and gravel is processed onsite for sale as aggregate. 

The developer, Martin Wojcik, president of It’s Greener Now, Inc. (ING), claims that the Padua Ridge expansion will not create significant noise, alter traffic volume, cause runoffs or have any impact on the state park, which is one of the state’s major tourist attractions.

“Consistent with current excavation activity at the Padua Ridge gravel mine, standard industry equipment will be used to strip, excavate, and haul materials from bank faces,” ING says in a 784-page draft environmental impact statement. “Bulldozers, scrapers, front-end wheel loaders, haul trucks and other standard industry equipment will be used as needed to accomplish each task.”

The proposed 60.95-acre expansion is lies within a 281-acre parcel ICN controls. 

The project will require a local special use permit as well as a state mining permit modification and state air permit or registration.

The DEC plans a virtual public hearing on the proposal at 6 p.m. Feb. 12 on WebEx Events. The next day, the agency will hold a public hearing at the Seneca Lake Events Center at Clute Park (Feb. 13, 2 p.m.). 

Comments about the proposal can be filed electronically at “[email protected] through Feb. 24. The primary contact person for the DEC is Frances Knickmyer, at the agency’s Region 8 headquarters in Avon.

The project was disclosed in the DEC’s environmental notice bulletin, which is published weekly.

The ENB reports that a version of the expansion was first proposed in 2007. At first, the DEC waived an environmental impact statement, but later rescinded that ruling and ordered an EIS.

A scoping document outlining the issues to be covered in the EIS was completed in 2008. The DEC accepted a draft EIS more than a decade later, in May 2019.

That DEIS was revised in August 2022. The DEC determined last week that the DEIS was sufficient for public review and so scheduled the public hearings.

Previous versions of the plan to mine below the groundwater table and to construct a transport tunnel under NYS 409 and a rail siding have been scrapped, according the the DEC.

“The outer perimeter of the affected area will remain set-back at least 25 feet from the property line,” the DEIS says. “Final sand and gravel slopes will be graded to slopes not exceeding 1.5:1. 

“Active excavation areas will be graded internally to prevent stormwater from leaving the site and allow stormwater to return to the groundwater regime via percolation into the relatively high permeability sands and gravels. 

“The floor of the pit will remain at least 5 feet above the seasonal high-water table,” the DEIS says. “IGN will periodically dig test pits in the mine floor and/or in advance of mining to confirm water table depth.”

In applying for the expansion, IGN was required to consider alternatives to the plan. It wrote:

“The “No Action” alternative means that the mine would not be expanded. However, demand for construction aggregates will remain unchanged. Such demand will create new activity at other sites and continued activity at existing sites. Expanding the existing mine site limits potential impacts by keeping them localized to an existing operational site.”

Phil Barns, a Schuyler County legislator whose home on West Second Street is one of the closest residences to the proposed mine expansion, said he wasn’t aware of the plan.

“Oh my word, how can they do that?” Barnes said. “Anybody who lives on the hillside is definitely going to be against it.”