Letter to the Editor - 12/05/2012

Something is ‘fishy’

Dear Cristine,

On Aug. 28, 2012 we participated in an auction to acquire the Schiffman property on Lake Eaton. As previously reported by Hamilton County Express our bid of $393,000 was the highest bid. There were three other bidders but the bidding came to a halt because no one was willing to bid any more.

The paper reported this figure as a “low ball bid” which couldn’t be further from the truth. Many people don’t know the facts regarding this camp because there has not been full disclosure and the legal problems with this piece are complicated and not being accurately conveyed.

Before we left we put a bid on the table of $450,000. For some reason this offer has been unreported. Perhaps if it was reported and the real issues were known, Long Lake residents would also be curious to know why the property was not sold in August.

Currently, this property was reappraised at $605,000. The people of Long Lake have been misled into thinking this piece is worth much more than the current $600K appraisal.

The original value when donated was extremely inflated due to huge inaccuracies with lakefront footage, lack of road access caused by deed restrictions and the camp itself being overvalued in the inflated vacation home market of five years ago.

To purchase access down Robinwood at this time we have been informed the cost will be $150,000. In addition to this legal battle, there is also now an easement that according to our calculations will allow the Town of Long Lake to literally go though the structure if needed to access the water supply in Lake Eaton.

This is a complicated situation, to say the least, and we believe our $450K bid should have been accepted. Over 30 bid packets were sent out and only four bids were received. This is not an easy sale, most likely due to the legal ramifications involved and the sinking values in the vacation home market.

A local real estate agent told us any bid over $350K for this camp was high in their opinion. We have close family ties to the small Lake Eaton community and have been vacationing there for over 50 years and are therefore willing to offer more than suggested and battle through the problems involved.

It is quite evident no one else is or will be willing to pay more. And, with the economy now in an even more precarious situation, who knows what will happen to the values in 2013?

We are confused as to why after two years of eligibility the town has not yet sold the Schiffman property when it could indeed use the proceeds, the annual tax revenue, related sales for the local economy etc. It just doesn’t seem to make good business sense that the Long Lake Town Board has rejected a solid $450K offer.

Furthermore, most of the contents (also owned by the townspeople) have been removed including furniture, rugs, tools, accessories, appliances, the carved bears, etc. Apparently they are accounted for, but we were also told by a local that many of the belongings have been given away to various people in Long Lake over the past five years.

Perhaps if the camp was left furnished and in the condition it was received and not left year after year in disrepair it would be sold by now and the town would have close to half a million dollars in the bank.

The last word from the Town Board was there would be another auction sometime in the spring. We know from personal experience working with this board it will most likely be considerably longer and chances are the property’s value will only continue to decline in this volatile market.

Something seems very “fishy” to us and we think the people of Long Lake may like to know what is really happening with this donated piece of property.

Elizabeth Capozzi,