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State of New York

County of Fulton

Town of Caroga

Minutes of a Caroga Town Board meeting held Wednesday November 25, 2020 at the municipal building located at 1840 State Highway #10 at 9:00 am with the following persons in attendance by roll call. The flag salute followed.

Supervisor Scott Horton - Here

Council Member John Glenn – Here

Council Member James Long - Here

Council Member Richard Sturgess - Here

Council Member Donald Travis - Here

Supervisor Horton, Council Members Glenn, Sturgess, and Travis were in the meeting room Council Member Long accessed the meeting remotely. Department heads Steve Jennings – Golf Pro, Greens keeper, and Manager, and Gene Centi Parks, Lakes, Recreation, and Tourism Commission were also in attendance. There were 6 members of the public also in attendance. Tor Shekerjian – Confidential Secretary to the Supervisor facilitated the ZOOM meeting. Council Member Long held a ZOOM meeting simultaneously with 40-50 signed in.

Supervisor Horton opened the emergency meeting by stating a lot has gone on in the last week and he wanted to dispel some of the rumors going around. On the date of the fire last Sunday, “we put together a steering committee.” The steering committee consists of the chairman of the PLRT, Gene Centi, Council Member Sturgess, the Pro -Steve Jennings, and Supervisor Horton. “We needed to be able to get together to start to organize things, figure out where we are going.” It is way, (with emphasis) early to make any decision. Yesterday was the first time they meet to express some ideas on what was needed for the club house. They met with an architect. Mr. Jennings has been busy working to put together an inventory on both his and the towns loss.

Council Member Long did not remember a resolution being made to create this committee. He was not party to it.

Supervisor Horton looked at this as a major emergency. It takes a lot of organization when something like this happens. There was work to do. As the Chief financial Officer, he has to protect the town’s interest. The Supervisor asked if he wanted to put forth a resolution for the committee. Supervisor Horton stated he had to meet with the insurance company and mitigate damages, safety with the highway dept., and comply with DEC requests. The Supervisor stated he had to act judicially and rapidly to protect the town’s interests.

To dispel all rumors no decisions have been made Supervisor Horton stated. Other than the objective is to open the course in April of next year. “That is the only decision that has been made.”

The other decisions are basically decisions that have to be made in conjunction with an architect – without going into details… the way our insurance policy is written – and it is a very good insurance policy – there has to be a lot of information given to them so that they can approve payment. Information comes in bits and pieces as to what is covered and what is not covered, where we can go where we can’t go….as being covered. Anything over and above is at the town’s expense.

Council Member Long stated he was not even notified of the committee meeting. Supervisor Horton responded he couldn’t attend or it would have been a formal meeting. The Supervisor understood his concern but it is very difficult when you are not face to face. He has to reach out to each board member to try to get a consensus and work with all of these other people. The Supervisor has never been involved in a major fire, and at the same time be a Supervisor of the town. If he makes some errors he apologizes, but he is always putting the town’s interest first. He will do everything that he can to abide by all of the rules. The Supervisor stated now everyone knows about the steering committee.

The clerk stated the committee does have to be put on the record.

Supervisor Horton again asked Council Member Long if he wanted to make a resolution on the steering committee.

Council Member Long proposed as there are a number of persons in this town who are experts – most importantly Steve Jennings the golf pro, other very knowledgably [sic, knowledgeably] people he offered a motion to have a committee comprised of Steve Jennings, Denny Fink [sic, Fincke], Chris Rhors, Genia Minehold [sic, Meinhold], Gene Centi, and Supervisor Horton. There was no second to the motion.

Council Member Glenn then made the following resolution.

RESOLUTION #2020-147 to appoint a steering committee was offered by Council Member Glenn at an emergency meeting held on Wednesday November 25, 2020 at 9 am at town hall.

WHEREAS, on Sunday November 15, 2020 the Nick Stoner Municipal Golf Course building burned to the ground, and

WHEREAS, there is a need to move forward with the rebuilding of the club house structure, and

WHEREAS, the town board will be kept apprised on a monthly basis minimally and with special meetings as necessary, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, that a steering committee is hereby named to include the following members: Steve Jennings, Gene Centi, Rick Sturgess, and Supervisor Horton.

Seconded by Council Member Travis

Supervisor Horton stated before the motion is made, he stated that Gene Centi, Rick and Mr. Jennings have come up with a way in which to keep the community informed on a regular basis, and also receive ideas from the community. The ones that make the most sense will be moved forward. Shortly there will be a professional helping us if we go with this one architect. This is how complicated things get. The town can hire an architect but if the architect’s fees are not customary and reasonable, they will not be paid for by our insurance policy. This is what he is dealing with on a daily basis. The architect the Supervisor is looking at has worked at Saratoga national and at the golf course that burnt down in Ticonderoga. “The board will have more detailed information as we go along and as necessary.”

RESOLUTION #2020-148 to appoint a steering committee was offered by Council Member Glenn at an emergency meeting held on Wednesday November 25, 2020 at 9 am at town hall.

WHEREAS, on Sunday November 15, 2020 the Nick Stoner Municipal Golf Course building burned to the ground, and

WHEREAS, there is a need to move forward with the rebuilding of the club house structure, and

WHEREAS, the town board will be kept apprised on a monthly basis minimally and with special meetings as necessary, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, that a steering committee is hereby named to include the following members: Golf Pro -Steve Jennings, PLRT Chairman - Gene Centi, Rick Sturgess, and Supervisor Horton.

Seconded by Council Member Travis

Discussion: Council Member Long stated this committee should include citizens from this town who clearly have expertise. He suggested Denny Fink, Chris Rohr [sic, Rohrs], and Jim Meinhold. He could not believe that such a committee without adequate involvement from interested town’s people. Council Member Glenn stated these people will in fact have opportunity to bring suggestions to the steering committee. Something will be set up on the website to allow them to do that.

Council Member Sturgess wanted to remind Council Member Long that the golf course did not burn. The pro shop burnt. “Granted, we need as much advice as possible. We are seeking advice from numerous sources.” Mr. Jennings has worked in the pro shop for 37 years. He knows quite a bit about the pro shop.

Council Member Long was not calling that into question.

Mr. Jennings wanted to add a very important member of this community to the committee – Brandon Hemmerick he knows a lot about golf, and is a very smart guy. Council Member Sturgess agreed 100%.

Mr. Hemmerick stated he has been playing golf at the Nick Stoner Municipal Golf Course since he was 7 years old. He worked for Mr. Jennings for 17 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from SUNY Albany. He lives on London Bridge Road. The golf course has meant a lot to him his entire life. He would like to see something better come out of this tragedy if he can help, he would be more than happy to do so.

Supervisor Horton stated having volunteers is important.

Mr. Centi stated he has been in contact with Denny Fink [sic, Fincke] since back in April. The Supervisor also met with him. Correspondence have been going back and forth via emails regarding the golf course. He is considered to be an advisory via a subcommittee. He did not know some of the other named by Council Member Long.

From his experience the more people you have involved you bog the system down. “We are building a building.” We are not redesigning this golf course at least at this point in time.” The goal is to have the course open in April.

Council Member Long stated the notion that this is just a pro shop and it has nothing to do with the golf course per say. He has heard talk of moving the pro shop to different locations. This would dramatically impact the golf course. This might even include renumbering holes. Council Member Sturgess interjected he did not know where he was hearing this from. Council Member Sturgess would like him to come to town hall once in a while and he could have a chat about this and try to get it figured out.

Council Member Glenn offered to amend the resolution to include Brandon Hemmerick. Supervisor Horton stated the larger the committee the harder it is to make decisions. Mr. Hemrick stated not a problem. The Supervisor stated this does not preclude wanting input from people that are invested emotionally. They would love to have his advice. There will be meeting in the future by ZOOM and others too will be asked, who have expertise, would have a lot to say about a lot of different issues. We are looking into a building and how that plays into the operation of the course. Mr. Jennings knows how changes would impact the play of the course. People don’t come for the building they come for the play of the course.

It was asked if people would now be able to comment. Council Member Long stated “under public officer’s law article 7 open meetings law, I am conducting a ZOOM meeting and I have at this point about 50 people on line.” He stated the Supervisor would have to recognize them as well. Supervisor Horton stated the resolution could be tabled and have public comment if he would like.

The Clerk stated Council Member Long’s ZOOM meeting was not advertised as such was it? Was it published as such? Council Member Long stated two things, the ZOOM that Open Meeting law Article 7 section 103 paragraph c and d were amended by the governor’s executive order 202.1, 202.15 were extended through December 3rd. This waived his requirement to publish his public location. Council Member Long stated it was published in the leader herald. “But it was published.” The clerk asked where. Council Member Long stated the one person who was not notified was the person who dropped their subscription to the Caroga Newsflash that would be the town clerk. “So, everybody else but the town clerk was notified.” The clerk stated it was not on the town bulletin board or anywhere.

In all fairness Supervisor Horton stated Council Member Long has mentioned an awful lot about the law however the town attorney was not here to advise the board. This was put in abeyance. The Supervisor was happy the people had come to listen to the board. The meeting had a specific purpose. That was to get the steering committee going and to hire a land surveyor. Council Member Long stated the Supervisor stated he did not have an agenda. Supervisor Horton sent something out to Council Member Long and Council Member Long stated he has already deviated from it.

Supervisor Horton stated he knew Council Member Long would like to run this meeting. But until the end of next year Supervisor Horton noted he is charged with running the meeting.

The Clerk clarified and reiterated the resolution offered by Council Member Glenn, and Council Member Glenn confirmed it was four members. He noted that the board will welcome the 40 – 60 people that Mr. Long decided to run a meeting for, and anyone else in the community who want to help.

Adopted by a roll call vote as follows:

Supervisor Scott Horton - Yes

Council Member John Glenn - Yes

Council Member James Long - No

Council Member Richard Sturgess - Yes

Council Member Donald Travis – Yes

Supervisor Horton had one other resolution for the board. This being Caroga Lake there is some snow on the ground. We could have a lot more. The Supervisor stated he would like to hire Chris Voss a professional land surveyor to do surveying of potential areas and locations for the club house. This will allow if we get an architect on board to use the winter months to do design. Both an architect and an engineer will need this information. Elevation, and property lines will come into play. He asked for authorization to hire the survey. He will check with the insurance company – he believes the insurance company will pay for this expense. It will allow the board to go forward over the winter so the building can be built sooner rather than later. The insurance company told the Supervisor three times to get an architect.

RESOLUTION #2020-149 to authorize the supervisor to hire a land surveyor was offered by Supervisor Horton at an emergency meeting held on Wednesday November 25, 2020 at 9 am at town hall.

WHEREAS, on Sunday November 15, 2020 the Nick Stoner Municipal Golf Course building burned to the ground, and

WHEREAS, there is a need to move forward with the rebuilding of the club house structure, and

WHEREAS, the Supervisor suggested hiring Chris Voss of Ferguson and Foss Professional Land Surveyors of 5 W main St. Johnstown NY 12095 now therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Caroga Town Board does hereby agree to hire the land surveyor Chris Voss to do boundary and topographical surveying of proposed site or sites for a new club house.

Seconded by Council Member Sturgess

Discussion: Council Member Glenn agreed there was an urgency and the emergency is something that needs to be addressed. He would like to see this get done before we get 3 – 5 feet of snow on the ground it would be beneficial to the direction we are going in to try to reopen and or get a timely replacement of the building.

Supervisor Horton asked for any further comment. Hearing none the roll was called. ©J.Long

Adopted by a roll call vote as follows:

Council Member John Glenn - Yes

Council Member James Long - Yes

Council Member Richard Sturgess - Yes

Council Member Donald Travis – Yes

Supervisor Scott Horton – Yes

Supervisor Horton gave the board members a copy of a survey to go out to everybody in town. It is just a little recap of what has taken place since a week ago Sunday. It explains the process will be long. It was thought that maybe within a year the town may have a new building. They were told yesterday that it could take six months just to do the design and engineering and up to a year to do the construction. There are questions about location and style on the survey, what options people would want to see in the building. It would be available on the town Facebook page, PLRT Facebook page, in the post office and town hall. It could be forwarded to Council Member Long too. They can be emailed or mailed back to the PLRT. He will personally read every single one. Mr. Centi stated he will not be able to respond to every single one.

The clerk asked how Mr. Centi had the authority to do this mailing. The clerk thought anything the PLRT does has to go through the town board. Mr. Centi stated he was a commission. Council Member Long stated the clerk was correct. The made a suggestion – tax bills are going out in 30 days is this urgent? The town could make a local law to include the survey in the tax bill and save the expense of mailing. Supervisor Horton stated it is just a mailing he has had scores of emails from people who want to contribute ideas. He thought it was a good idea to have the community involved in the project. The cost was estimated in $178.00. The Supervisor questioned whether he had the authority to spend $178.00. The clerk asked where the money was coming from and thought this should be a board decision. Council Member Long agreed.

Supervisor Horton agreed to have a resolution to spend $178.00 and noted now we know why people don’t care much about government because it is bizarre. He made a motion.

Mr. Centi stated if is an issue it can be put on the Facebook page and in the post office and at town hall. Council Member Sturgess just wanted the public to have access to the survey. Supervisor Horton stated this is almost getting to be ludicrous. Mr. Jennings was asked if he had money in his budget for advertising. He responded that he did. Council Member Sturgess asked why it could not come out of that. The clerk agreed it could come from the golf course budget. Mr. Centi stated he worked with Mr. Jennings on the budget and there is money in the PLRT and the golf course for advertising.

Supervisor Horton wanted to caution everyone, when we get into this minutia this building will probably cost over a million dollars and we have to squabble over $178.00 on actions to move this forward it will not get built. As a matter of principle, the Supervisor did not want to have a resolution on this and just do it. If someone wants to file an article 78 then bring it on. He was frustrated. Mr. Livingston offered to donate the $178.00. The Supervisor stated it may even be reimbursed by the insurance company. That being said the Supervisor stated everyone will have access to a survey form. He encouraged the responses and thanked Mr. Centi for doing that. The Supervisor stated he has a purchasing authority to greater than the amount to get this mailing out to everybody in town.

This brings up another point the Supervisor noted. Council Member Glenn discussed a few days ago putting organization to this project. He took his ideas and put them into a resolution.

The Supervisor read: a resolution to appoint Supervisor Horton and or his delegates to be the lead negotiator for the architect, engineer, NYMIR, and all other contractors, agents, or consultants in regards to the rebuilding of the Nick Stoner Clubhouse. All contractual issues will be presented to the town board for their approval. We don't need to have five board members or anybody else calling up these people and asking questions it should be funneled to a single source so it can be documented and controlled in a positive way, where we have structure, and then all of those issues would be obviously brought to the board for their approval but we need to keep things moving and we can't do that by working one day a month to get this through. The supervisor stated that his life “has been in construction and this is just the way you do things folks.” When he talked to the architect yesterday, the one we are hoping to hire, everybody was on board. There's a process to rebuilding. The information part from the community is extremely important. It's not anybody's golf club it's everybody's. As to how you get there and who's negotiating with the insurance company and how these pieces all fit together is very complicated. It has to funnel through your elected officials. The steering committee obviously has two people that are not elected officials, but one of them is the Chairman of the PLRT and the other is the golf pro who has been here for 37 years. He didn't think that the public should be too upset in having that as a steering committee. Everybody has their own specific competencies and this is just how it gets done. The supervisor is trying to avoid chaos. He stated he didn't believe they could hire somebody if they were going to be contacted but by 5 or 7 different people - and being harassed. He didn't think it was workable. Council Member Glenn stated there was a motion on the floor. Council Member Glenn stated he would make that motion that the supervisor just described. Councilmember Glenn ask for a second. Councilmember Sturgis [sic, Sturgess] seconded the motion.

RESOLUTION #2020-150 to appoint Supervisor Horton and or his delegates to be the lead negotiator for the architect, engineer, NYMIR, and all other contractors, agents, or consultants in regards to the rebuilding of the Nick Stoner Clubhouse was offered by Council Member Glenn at an emergency meeting held on Wednesday November 25, 2020 at 9 am at town hall.

WHEREAS, on Sunday November 15, 2020 the Nick Stoner Municipal Golf Course building burned to the ground, and

WHEREAS, there is a need to move forward with the rebuilding of the club house structure, and

WHEREAS, there is a concern for information to be funneled to a single source so it can be documented and controlled in a positive way, now therefore be it

RESOLVED, that Supervisor Horton and or his delegates be appointed to be the lead negotiator for the architect, engineer, NYMIR, and all other contractors, agents, or consultants in regards to the rebuilding of the Nick Stoner Clubhouse, and be it further

RESOLVED, that all contractual issues will be presented to the town board for their approval.

Seconded by Council Member Sturgess

Discussion: Council Member Long thought the Supervisor was circumventing the procurement policy of the town and of General Municipal Law. He thought that this was a very dangerous process which he told him privately and is now saying publicly. Council Member Long stated the board can meet as often as necessary, every few days. He didn't think we should delegate this. We should be getting multiple quotes. This is going to be perhaps a million dollar building which means the architect fee is quite a substantial part of that. “We need to get competitive bids.” If we do anything less than that we are going to be in violation of our procurement policy and of GML.

Council Member Sturgess thought he was misunderstanding the motion. This was to make one person communicate with these people so that individuals are not calling for various reasons. Council Member Long stated we as a board have that responsibility and cannot delegate it to the Supervisor or any other subset of the board. This is a large board decision. This is one case where it is clear that the whole board needs to be involved in this. We cannot shirk that responsibility. We can’t shortcut the process. He again stated the board can meet as often as necessary. He thought the public expects it of the board.

Supervisor Horton asked if Council Member Long believed what he was saying. Council Member Long did. The Supervisor asked if he knew of any governmental agency, even at the county level, where they have had all 20 members vote on every little detail and negotiated every detail independently for the contracts they put out.

Council Member Sturgess noted there are some decisions that have to be made that don’t need five members of a board to get in a room. Supervisor Horton stated recommendations will be brought to the town board.

Council Member Long did not think this was something the board could delegate – it’s a board process. He noted the different duties of Mayor run governments. Town law is a unique animal. The Supervisor asked how many other towns have had a construction project where the entire board was at free reign to call the contractor, engineer, architect….he was asked to name one. The Supervisor was challenging his insertions that the town should give access to each board member to the architect, engineer etc. Again the Supervisor calls this to be almost ludicrous.

Council Member Glenn stated the resolution does not circumvent the board. It allows the Supervisor to present to the steering committee and town board for final approval.

Council Member Long asks for the exact language of the resolution. His audio was not good.

The resolution was read again. The Supervisor stated he would not spend a penny without board approval.

Adopted by a roll call vote as follows:

Council Member James Long - No

Council Member Richard Sturgess - Yes

Council Member Donald Travis – Yes

Supervisor Scott Horton – Yes

Council Member John Glenn – Yes

The Supervisor asked if there was any other new business in regards to the golf course.

Council Member Glenn noted that he should meet with Council Member Sturgess about the rules for Zoom meetings. The Supervisor spoke to Tor Shekerjian about getting a monitor. The Supervisor objection to ZOOM is he just wants to have the ability to see the audience on Zoom like everybody else has.

Council Member Long stated the importance of Zoom cannot be understated [sic, overstated]. He stated there are over 40 people in attendance right now on a Zoom that as the town clerk rightly pointed out was not posted in the leader herald newspaper, wasn’t posted at a local bulletin board. Council Member Glenn interjected it was an illegal meeting. Council Member Long continued it was publicized not widely and yet there are over 40 people. This is evidence that there is a vast interest in the way this town board is conducting business and in the challenges this town board faces. Council Member Long thought Zoom was absolutely critical for every single meeting going forward.

Supervisor Horton stated we are trying our best. We will do it. He was sorry it is not moving as quickly as the Council Member liked. The Supervisor stated he wants organized meetings. He does not want thing to be crazy out there. In the mean time we have to do business the best we can.

Council Member Glenn made a motion to adjourn.

The clerk in an effort to have things organized and less chaotic she requested that the newsflash that council member Long puts out be removed from the “official town website” This is his own personal document and shouldn’t be posted there.

Council Member Long stated as Linda is about to make public, she has created a website that is an egregious violation of his copyrighting material. The clerk asked if he has seen the website. Council Member Long replied he had. The clerk stated she hasn’t. He stated it was published and was online. He stated it was public everybody in the world can go on and look at it.

Mr. Jennings stated he has received a lot of calls about the golf course. It will be open in April and it will be run as smoothly as they can going into next year. His main concern is to get through this transition and to work with the board. We will get through this. We lost a building but the golf course is going to be as good as it was. We are not going to alter anything. Steve was thanked for a great way to end the meeting.

Council member Glenn made a motion to adjourn at 9:56 am. Council Member Travis seconded the motion. All board members were in favor of the motion.

Respectfully Submitted,

Linda M. Gilbert, RMC, CMC

Caroga Town Clerk

Copyright © James McMartin Long 2017–2021