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Minutes of a Caroga Town Board work session held Thursday October 5, 2017

State of New York
County of Fulton
Town of Caroga

Minutes of a Caroga Town Board work session held Thursday October 5, 2017 at the municipal building located at 1840 State Highway #10 at 7:00 pm with the following persons in attendance by Roll Call:

Supervisor Beth Y Morris – Here
Council Member John Glenn – Here
Council Member Anthony Sturchio – Here
Council Member Jeremy Manning – Here

Supervisor Morris opened the meeting with the salute to the flag.

There were 24 members of the public in attendance.

Supervisor Morris introduced Attorney Chris Langlois of Girvin and Ferlazzo. Supervisor Morris stated there were a few correspondence letters to be read.

Linda Clark read her letter.

Dear Town Board Members:

I write regarding the Morey Road issue. Please be sure to see the consequences depicted on the video available at: https://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=&oq=youtube+morey+road+caroga&ie=UTF8&rlz=1T4PLXB_enUS726US727&q=youtube+morey+road+caroga&gs_l=hp....0.0.1.11563...........0.0XmOh4D1cXA This video is an important source of information that should be shown to the Board, even if only on someone’s phone or IPAD.

I think the Town should treat this as a very bad, dangerous and expensive precedent- the unilateral seizure of a critical Town asset by a citizen using self-help and threats of violence! How can any municipality tolerate such aggression and self-help? The consequences for the safety of individuals relying on the trail (and who now are forced to use iffy lake trails in all conditions- against DEC policy), local businesses and the Town in general have been significant, longstanding and sprawling.

The trail is a highly valuable and critical resources and is a designated Class II main corridor, without which we have no safe egress to the Southern trails without talking risky trips over lakes in bad conditions. Other communities would die to get this type of trail to link them into the system, but its cost (and value) would run into the millions of dollars, so the Town needs to understand the commercial and recreational value of this important asset. This trail was a reason that we lost many of our smaller local trails to the east of Caroga since the state was relying on this corridor trial to establish access. From a planning perspective, this access could play a pivotal part in Caroga's future by ensuring some minimal commercial activity in the winter months that is a critical baseline to keep year round establishments that make this more than a seasonal community. The trail corridor also presents exciting options for winter uses of the Sherman’s property in the future; how great would it be for that acquisition to yield year-round benefits to our Town! Now, the reality is that we are lucky to have a gas station, some restaurants, and a grocery store which make our community barely livable in the off season. If the Town could make some basic accommodations (thoughtful plowing practices to support our clubs, better winter PR, parking access for non-commercial vehicles etc.) and also protect this key trail while developing other non-motorized winter resources,, we may have some future which retains these diminishing basic amenities, and will sustain a year round community to support our tax base and other local resources such as the school, post office etc. This, of course, does not even consider the loss of a key hiking trail that has great potential for bikes and summer hiking, as advertised heavily by DEC in their Caroga Lake Campground guide, all of which is complementary to the future uses for the Sherman’s property. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:T0_9qoUz-BEJ:www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/24458.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

I ask the Board continue its principled and strong response to this attack on our Town’s vital resources. I have little doubt we will all look back on this and regret it if there is not a steady and firm response to this aggression that preserves this important public resource for generations to come. It is time to ask the court for an order preserving the use of the trail while the litigation gets resolved.

I will be available to assist in any way I can.

Regards-

Linda Clark

(Applause)

Supervisor Morris read the following two letters:

Dear Town of Caroga Board: I appreciate the following being read at the next town board meeting as I'm unable to attend in person.

I am a homeowner at 107 North Branch Road. Morey road and the Morey homestead as broken down is part of my deed! For the town to allow an adjacent property owner to take hold of what has been public access for years is a travesty for a town trying to build it's economy.

My interest in the Morey Road issue is access to the rest of NYS snowmobile trail system WITHOUT HAVING TO CROSS A LAKE! I purchased my property on North Branch with that as a primary consideration. When the weather fluctuates for an area like ours, the ability to still access Western & Northern NYS through this vital trail is essential and safe. All other access to the rest of NYS trails requires either crossing Caroga Lake or Canada Lake. The trail is listed as a Class II main corridor, how does someone say this was never being used, without the town having them justify it? NST has been maintaining this trail for years and all of the sudden it not's a trail with access?

Caroga Lake is an amazing location for the fall hunting season as well with a major point of access currently shutdown.

Hiking access blocked and anybody unknowingly trying to access what is still listed as a public access trail, is confronted and generally have the authorities called on them. Caroga Lake balloons in the summer with people looking to access the trails only to be ran off. Would you come back to this town with that type of confrontation?

Additionally, I have been approached no less than 5 times by the New York State police questioning why I was simply walking up Morey Road to visit my neighbor or check on water which is accessed on the North side of Morey road in summer (part of my deed). We consider it harassment at this point and to avoid conflict, have to avoid an area or access to hookup my water like I'm doing something wrong. The confrontations that continue to this day should've been handled accordingly by the town from day one.

CONSIDER SOME OF THE FOLLOWING posted from another town homeowner:

I think the Town should treat this as a very bad dangerous and expensive precedent- a unilateral seizure of a critical Town asset by a citizen using self-help and threats of violence! I hope that each of you has seen the YouTube video depicting the destruction of the trail. The Trail is a designated Class II main corridor, without which we have no safe egress to the Southern trails without talking risky trips over lakes in bad conditions. Other communities would die to get this type of trail to link them into the system, but its cost (and value) would run into the millions of dollars, so the Town needs to understand the commercial and recreational value of this important asset. This trail was a reason that we lost many of our smaller local trails to the east of Caroga since the state was relying on this corridor trial to establish access. From a planning perspective, this access could play a pivotal part in Caroga's future by ensuring some minimal commercial activity in the winter months that is a critical baseline to keep year round establishments that make this more than a seasonal community. We are lucky to have a gas station, some restaurants, a grocery store which make our community barely livable in the off season. If the Town could make some basic accommodations (thoughtful plowing practices to support our clubs, better winter PR, parking access for non-commercial vehicles etc.) and also protect this key trail, we may have some future which retains these diminishing basic amenities, and support a year round community, both of which support our tax bases and other local resources such as the school, post office etc. This, of course, does not even consider the loss of a key hiking trail that has great potential for bikes and summer hiking, as advertised heavily by DEC in their Caroga Lake Campground guide. I have little doubt we will all look back on this and regret it if there is not a steady and firm response to this aggression.

There is reason the people who are elected to sit on our Town Board are put in these positions, to fight these types of actions. I implore the Town of Caroga to do everything in their power to fight this illegal takeover of an established road/trail/access corridor.

Sincerely,

Lee Gilman

107 North Branch Road

Caroga Lake, NY

(Applause)

Please use this letter at the meeting tonight. I own two homes on Canada Lake. I visit every winter to snowmobile in the area.

I very much agree that the situation with Morey road has been miss-handled and ask that the Board take back control of this situation and open up this trail for use by the local snowmobiling community. The actions taken by one person with regards to this trail warrant the intervention of the Board to take back a resource which is badly need(ed) to support the snowmobiling community. It is the safe and right thing to do.

If you take no action then you may have more trails closed by those who don’t understand or care about the value of having this resource to draw people and money in the community.

I have been living and snowmobiling in the Canada/Caroga lakes region for over 5 decades.

Please do the right thing here.

David Cannon 184 Fulton Road and 334 S. Shore Trail.

(Applause)

Council Member Sturchio reads the letter from Lauren Sammons Lozier

Dear Town Board:

Please read this letter out loud at the meeting regarding Morey Road.

My name is Lauren Sammons Lozier. I have lived year round on 451 Kasson Drive on Canada Lake for 16 years. As a child I spent my summers and when able my winters also on Canada Lake.

I am extremely concerned with how our town has handled the Morey Road situation. Frankly, I find it absolutely inconceivable that someone could drop trees to cut off a road/trail, threaten to hurt, bully and scare people, and shut down a road/trail and call it his own. There is no doubt in my mind that the town and our attorney should have taken charge of the situation immediately. I can't believe that we didn't remove the trees and sue for the cost of the removal. I have walked, hiked, and ridden my snowmobile on that trail since 1990. My father and his friends were riding and hiking that trail when they were in their teens. This situation with you, our board, even considering dropping this case and allowing this precedent to be set is inexcusable. As a tax payer, community member, and in some cases friend who voted for you, I cannot believe that you would let this slide.

You live here. You know what winters are like here. You also know how important snowmobiling is to our community. The money that snowmobiles bring in keeps our stores, restaurants, and community alive. We are so lucky to have two gas stations and a place to buy a present if we need one in a pinch. We could all be driving to Gloversville and Johnstown for everything if we don't protect our businesses. I know for a fact that people have bought houses, not on lakes, to use year round so they can snowmobile in the winter. They fix and beautify these dilapidated homes and add value in our community and help with our tax base. I also know restaurants and coffee houses have been closed and reopened in the hopes of a 'good winter'-meaning without snowmobiles there is a significant loss of revenue and businesses struggle to survive.

Our town-my town should treat this as a very bad dangerous and expensive precedent- a unilateral seizure of a critical Town asset by a citizen using self-help and threats of violence is absolutely horrific. With this precedent set, maybe I could cut down some trees on Hutchinson Road and call it mine since it isn't regularly plowed in the winter.

I hope that each of you has seen the YouTube video depicting the destruction of the trail. I hope you have heard the threats of violence that have been made.

The Morey Road Trail is a designated Class II main corridor ON EVERY MAP without which we have no safe passage to and from the Southern trails without talking risky trips over lakes in bad conditions, which you also should know with our weather patterns are very frequent.

Other communities would die to get this type of trail to link them into the system, but its cost (and value) would run into the millions of dollars. You also know, or I hope you know, that towns die when there is not income for restaurants, stores, gas stations, and recreation. Try taking a drive up Route 8 and look at Bakers Mills that was thriving in the 80s.

You have to understand the commercial and recreational value of this important asset. With the efforts you have made regarding Sherman's, the bike trail, advocating for the Caroga Music group, how could you drop the ball on the only WINTER support for our community.

We need Morey Road to bring people in. It shouldn't even be a discussion. You all should be advocating 110 percent for the only real winter money stream. In fact, you should be talking about how to maintain what we have and build upon it, maybe by leaving a little snow on the side of the roads that are also the only access to move around lakes and from trail to trail.

If you are serious about bringing us back to life, you need to be serious about Morey Road.

Most Respectfully,

Lauren Sammons Lozier

(Applause)

Supervisor Morris stated, “At this time I think there has to be a clarification made. I don’t know where this false rhetoric came – stating that this town board was dropping the ball on anything. Over a month ago I spoke to the club president Mr. Ivancic and Dave Briot in my office about this issue. I think you both remember that day. This is false rhetoric and all it does is divide a town and cause ill feelings. I don’t know where it came from frankly I don’t care. But you are hearing it here, (Judy I want this on the record word for word) This Town Board has worked tirelessly on this issue. We have used town funds defending this we are going to continue to do it because it is the right thing. Furthermore whoever is spreading this false innuendo, you’re hurting our town. We have enough issues in this town dividing us we don’t need something like this doing it. So as your supervisor and I know I can speak for the gentlemen here that I work with on your town board. We are not going anywhere and we are not going to stop fighting.” (Applause)

With that at 7:20 pm Supervisor Morris made a motion to enter into an executive session regarding pending litigation involving the Morey Road. Council Member Manning seconded the motion. All board members were in favor of the motion. Linda Clark and Tim Mitchell were invited into the executive session.

At 8:20 pm Council Member Glenn made a motion to exit from the executive session. Supervisor Morris seconded the motion. All board members were in favor of the motion.

Chris Langlois made a brief statement that the Town Board expressed to him their commitment to see through the Morey Road project. On behalf of his law firm, on behalf of Sal who is unable to be here tonight also are committed to seeing the resolution of Morey Road project as quickly and productively as possible.

At 8:21 pm Supervisor Morris made a motion to enter into an executive session regarding pending litigation regarding East Shore Road. Also to discuss the medical, financial, credit or employment history of a particular person or corporation, or matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation; Council Member Sturchio seconded the motion. All board members were in favor of the motion.

At 9:05 pm Council Member Manning made a motion to exit from the executive session. Supervisor Morris seconded the motion. All board members were in favor of the motion. There were no decisions forthcoming as a result of the executive session.

Supervisor Morris stated there was nothing from the executive session that could be discussed publicly. The matters discussed were an employee issue and other pending litigation. There were no decisions forthcoming as a result of the second executive session.

Supervisor Morris suggested dates for two budget meetings. The work sessions were set for Tuesday October 17 and October 24, 2017 at 7 pm. This is when the budget director can be here. If another meeting is needed it can be scheduled after that.

The tentative Budget was presented to the Town Board. It is not finished. There are things that will change on it.

At 9:10 pm Supervisor Morris made a motion to adjourn. Council member Sturchio seconded the motion. All board members were in favor of the motion.

Respectfully Submitted,

Judy Aldinger

Transcribed by Linda M. Gilbert Town Clerk

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