Caroga moves forward with Sherman’s sale referendum

Shown is the Shermans Amsusement Park property in June. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

CAROGA — The town board during a special meeting on Aug. 5 passed a resolution approving the wording for the referendum for the sale of the Sherman’s property to be submitted to the Fulton County Board of Elections.

Councilman Kent Kirch said the town will pass a second resolution at its September meeting that will schedule the date of the referendum for Nov. 5, so it will be included on the general election ballot.

The town board originally passed a resolution in June setting the date of the referendum for Aug. 20. However, at a special meeting on July 31, the town board rescinded that resolution after the board of elections informed the town that absentee ballots could not be used without a personal registration process in which there would not be enough time to conduct that process prior to the referendum date of Aug. 20.

Earlier this month the town Supervisor James Selmser said the town wants to give everyone the opportunity to vote.

Kirch said that the board held the special meeting on Monday because the board of elections needed the wording for the referendum in by the Aug. 5 deadline.

Local law requires all items being submitted for general elections must be submitted 90 days prior to general election date of Nov. 5.

However, Kirch said that local law conflicts with new state election laws.

“To my understanding, we can’t pass the resolution until with in 60 to 75 days of the election,” Kirch said.

He said the board will continue to work with its attorney to iron out the conflicts in the local and state election laws.

The referendum is being held to allow residents to vote on the sale of the former amusement park to the Caroga Arts Collective. If approved, the Sherman’s property would be sold to the CAC for $50,000.

The music group has plans to turn the property into a performing arts venue. Plans include a lakeside performance venue; a main building to hold performances, banquets, conferences, town hall meetings, or other uses; carousel for banquets and art gallery installation space; and an information booth to supply information on Caroga and the Adirondacks.

Council members believe that selling the property to the CAC would be in the best interest of the town and to avoid any lawsuits from its former owner, George Abdella.

Abdella gifted the property to the town in 2015 under a donation agreement that stipulated that the town must maintain the property and not sell it. Since then, the town has received several proposals from third parties seeking to purchase the property. Abdella has agreed to the sale of the property to the CAC without threat of a lawsuit.

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

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

At a special meeting on July 31, the town board authorized tits attorney, Dunn and Dunn, to respond to the lawsuit.