Letters to the Editor - 12/12/2012

It’s not too late

Dear Cristine,

I am writing in response to the Dec. 5 letter to the editor by Elizabeth Capozzi. Everything she wrote regarding the sale of the Schiffman property is true.

I happened to be at the meeting when the Long Lake Town Board rejected the offers. However, at that same meeting the town supervisor, Clark Seaman, said one of the bidders had come back to him with another offer, to which the board voted to go into executive session to discuss.

As it turns out, the offer was for $450,000 for the purchase of the Schiffman property, which was never divulged to the public. At the Nov. 14 Town Board meeting, which was held at the Raquette Lake school, it was released only then that all offers had been rejected and the house would go for public auction, once again, in the spring.

Again, there was no mention of the highest offer. This particular board meeting also happened to be a public hearing for the 2013 Budget and it was disclosed that the tax rate would be rising due to the fact that the Town of Long Lake could not hold off any longer on paying back money borrowed from the State of New York for the failed affordable housing plan.

The state wants to be repaid and it’s the local taxpayers who have to foot the bill.

It only makes sense that the board should reconsider the Capozzi offer for the Schiffman property and pay the state back with the proceeds of the sale money. I talked to Mrs. Capozzi Dec. 5 after reading her letter. She said the offer is still good but does not know for how much longer.

The Schiffman house was donated to the Town of Long Lake and anything the town can sell it for is a profit. It would be wise to accept the $450,000 offer, pay off the state ($180,000, as stated by the Town Board) and invest the remainder of the money into replacing some old fragile water piping.

I strongly urge the people of Long Lake to contact the board members and express the urgency and importance to accept this offer. Do it now, before our taxes rise and while the Capozzis still have the financing for the Schiffman property. It is not too late.

John Adams, Long Lake

Why have the park?

Dear Cris,

I have a problem, or maybe we all do since the Adirondack Forest Preserve is supposed to be open to everyone.

My name is Lewis N. Page. I live in Speculator. I am 72 years old and worked hard all my life for the day that I could retire and hunt, fish and camp to my heart’s content. I have always paid my taxes.

Now the local forest ranger tells me that because I was issued a camping permit for hunting season I can’t go camping any more this year. I can’t be issued another permit until next year.

If I stay camping in my tent where it is I can be fined up to $250. The State of New York is making me into a criminal because I want to camp on public land. I feel this is wrong and I would like to see this ridiculous rule changed.

I don’t know of anyone camping in the winter between Indian Lake and Piseco. I challenge our local forest rangers to show me how it would hurt the environment if I camp in the winter. I would like an answer in this newspaper.

The local forest rangers’ boss has a leased camp in the area. I think he camps in the winter. I would think the forest rangers would promote camping instead of restricting it so much.

I also offered to check on my camp at any time. I realize that years ago there were a lot of squatters on state land and that had to be stopped, but camping in a tent or other shelter is completely different and should be allowed.

My wife doesn’t work and we live on Social Security. I get $690 a month, so I cannot afford a lawyer to help me, let alone pay a fine.

Can anyone help me with this so I can continue camping? Governor Cuomo? I would appreciate someone to help me.

I live a simple, quiet life and am not doing this for the publicity; I simply want to go camping.

Lewis N. Page, Speculator

For the record

Dear Cris;

Since taking office I’ve chosen not to respond to letters to the editor. However, I’m now compelled to respond to Ms. Capozzi’s “Something is fishy” letter dated Dec. 5.

Ms. Capozzi is correct in that she and her husband offered the Town of Long Lake $450,000 for the Lake Eaton property. However, she neglects to clarify that this offer was made after the bidding process was closed. Nevertheless, I presented their offer to the Town Board at open session after we had received an updated appraisal.The board chose not to consider their offer at that time and [to] open the sale back up to the public, as is required by municipal law regarding the sale of surplus property.

Rather the board elected to wait until Spring 2013 to auction the property again in hopes of getting an offer commensurate with the new, updated, appraised value of $605,000. The board has a fiduciary duty to do so and any decision we make in this regard must withstand the NYS comptroller’s scrutiny.

Ms. Capozzi was clearly apprised of the access issues and options with respect to this property, as were other bidders. There is legal access to this property that is insured through the town’s title insurance, which was purchased when this property was gifted to the town.

She was also apprised of the town’s intent to retain an easement and right-of-way along the edge of the property. She was provided a map of the property, as were all bidders, with the proposed easement / right-of-way clearly identified.

I assure you the easement does not “literally go though the structure;” rather it runs along the southeastern boundary of the property. If it did go through the structure, why would anyone even consider paying $450,000 with such a proposed easement in place?

And if the easement was such an impediment to this sale / purchase, why not raise it as a concern when they made their $450K written offer to the board (they did not) and why didn’t they make an offer to the town requesting that the easement be removed (again, they did not)?

With respect to contents missing from the property, Ms. Capozzi raised this concern to me previously in an email dated Oct. 5, 2012. I responded in part: “Regarding the articles removed from the property, we inventoried and photographed the contents of the house and garage prior to starting this process this summer. Articles that were removed were done so with the full knowledge and permission of the board.

“The inventory of articles included with the sale was adjusted appropriately. The vast majority of the articles that were removed are now here in the Town Office Building, with a few in storage and or for repair in another town building. I believe this is very much in keeping with the donative intent of the Schiffmans.”

Any concerned taxpayer need look no further than the lobby of the town offices for the indoor furniture removed from the Lake Eaton property. The outdoor furniture will be used along our nature trail next summer.

Copies of the above referenced inventory with notes of what was removed from the property, along with the photos, are available in my office.

As for the three carved bears, they all received a much-needed fresh coat of stain and will have their severely deteriorated bases replaced this winter. Next summer look for one in front of Town Hall, the Town Office Building and at the Town Beach.

Clark J. Seaman, supervisor

Town of Long Lake

Hit the holiday fair

Dear Cris,

In December 2010 K.C. Morrison had an incredible vision and organized the first ever Holiday Street Fair in Speculator. The fair was a tremendous success due to the diligent work of volunteers, municipalities, the chamber of commerce, Charlie Johns and other area businesses.

Last year he moved out of the area and did not want the tradition to die. He passed the torch to me to organize the second annual Holiday Street Fair. Despite the rain, everyone had a fun time.

In that spirit, I am pleased to announce that this tradition will continue. The 2012 Holiday Fair is moving to Oak Mountain Saturday, Dec. 15, from 5-8 p.m. The evening will be brimming with spectacular events including a free Polar Express chairlift ride to Santa’s Village at the top of the mountain.

I believe events like this are essential to cultivate a sense of community in our area. Stop by, enjoy some holiday cheer and keep this tradition alive.

Caitlin Stewart,

Lake Pleasant