Yates voters reject land purchase by Lake Ontario

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 June 2024 at 9:59 pm

Referendum to buy 153 acres fails in 260-145 vote

Photos by Tom Rivers: Staff from the Orleans County Board of Elections counts ballots this evening in the Yates Town Hall while onlookers observe the county. Town Supervisor Jim Simon is in back at left.

LYNDONVILLE – Voters in the Town of Yates today gave a decisive rejection of a land purchase along Lake Ontario to expand the town park.

The town held a referendum today on whether Yates would be authorized to spend $700,000 in grant funds to acquire 153.3 acres next to the current 6-acre Town Park on Morrison Road.

The town wanted to expand the park by buying the land from NYSEG. Even though the purchase would only move forward with grant funding, residents still said no. Several voiced their concerns about ongoing expense with maintenance and the uncertain plan for how the town would use the land.

Town Supervisor Jim Simon envisioned a nature trail for the property, and keeping the site mostly wild.

“The people have spoken,” Simon said after the votes were counted in the town hall. “It’s definitive.”

The stack of “no” votes is about twice as high as the “yes” votes.

There were 415 votes counted today, with 382 ballots cast in person today and 33 more through absentees. A few more absentees also might trickle in the next few days but they won’t change the outcome.

There are 1,629 registered voters in Yates. That puts turnout at 25.5 percent.

Simon said residents are feeling a general uneasiness about the economy, and many recently had their assessments raised adding to their angst.

He will inform NYSEG that the land purchase was denied by residents. Simon expects NYSEG will put the land up for sale with the future use unknown. Residents in favor of the town purchase preferred to keep it mostly wild or have public access, over the land being developed for housing or industry and business.

Simon said he was pleased to meet more residents through the town discussions about the land, including recent public meetings.

“It got more people involved in the process,” he said.