Lawyer sues Caroga

Says officials didn’t keep up agreement over Sherman’s

CAROGA — Just two weeks after the town board passed a resolution to enter into a contract for the sale of the Sherman’s property to the Caroga Arts Collective, former owner, George Abdella, filed a notice of claim against the town and wants the property back.

Abdella, who is the president and sole stock holder of Balboaa Land Development Corporation, filed a notice of claim against the town on Friday for breach of contract, also claiming the town has not maintained the former amusement park.

“It’s a bit of a surprise to me,” Supervisor James Selmser said today.

In March 2015, the town and Abdella entered into a donation agreement in which Abdella donated a portion of the property on the condition that the town hold the property in perpetuity, never sell the property and that the town “shall, at all times, maintain the property to the highest of standards.”

According to the notice of claim which can be found on the town’s website, Abdella is claiming that the town has failed to obey the terms of the agreement in ways including failure to maintain the buildings and grounds; allowing the sewer system to deteriorate to the point where it cannot obtain approval from the state Department of Health; failing to properly groom the landscape of the property; failing to maintain the interior; failing to repair the waterline; and failing to maintain the donated portion of the beach front and allowing it to become overgrown.

According to the notice, Abdella is seeking compensatory damages, the rescission of the donation agreement and the deeds to the property transferred back to him.

“The town has tried to do some maintenance work on the property to make sure it is presentable and safe to the town,” Selmser said. “Parts that are not safe, are not open to the public.”

The town at its regular meeting on June 12, passed the resolution to enter into an agreement for the sale of Sherman’s to the CAC at the cost of $50,000, which will go to referendum for the public to vote on.

The town board emphasized that if they were to sell the property to the CAC, they would avoid any lawsuits from Abdella since Abdella had indicated he would be in favor of the sale to the CAC.

Selmser said he isn’t sure why Abdella filed the lawsuit.

“We will consult with our lawyer for advisement,” Selmser said.

Although, the town board has made it clear that they believe selling the property to the CAC would be the best option and have had several public information sessions on CAC’s proposal, several area residents have expressed their disapproval for the sale to CAC.

CAC, a non-profit organization, has plans to turn the property into a first-class performing arts venue. There would be a lakeside performance venue; a main building which could hold performances, banquets, conferences, town hall meetings or other uses; carousel for banquets and art gallery installation space; and an informational booth for supplying information on Caroga and the Adirondacks, and seeing Caroga as the gateway to the Adirondacks.

However, many town residents are in favor of John Lawrence’s proposed plan for the property to purchase the property for $225,000 to turn it into a mixed-use development with a restaurant, retail stores and second-floor apartments, while retaining some of the iconic features of Sherman’s.

The vote to determine whether the sale of Sherman’s will go to the CAC is expected to be held on Aug. 20.