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Vision for Sherman’s presented

Dake: What SPAC did for Saratoga, the CAC can do for Caroga with Sherman’s

Shown are about 200 attendees of the informational meeting held Monday on the future of Sherman's. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara )

CAROGA — A non-Caroga resident, whose family owns Stewart’s Shops and who has been following the success of the Caroga Arts Collective, along with the debate over the future of Sherman’s, hosted a forum on Monday at the Wheelerville Union Free School on the future of Sherman’s.

Brad Dake, who owns three properties in Arietta, gave a presentation on the success that the Saratoga Performing Arts Center brought to Saratoga and how a performing arts center at Sherman’s could bring that same success.

Following his presentation, Dake moderated a discussion between town residents and representatives with some in favor of the CAC owning Sherman’s and some opposed, but ultimately everyone agreed that they wanted to see the abandoned amusement park become something that would benefit the town.

In an interview, Dake said, “What I tried to do in creating this event was to get two sides to come together for one evening and people can talk about vision rather than specifics. What I saw was, this was just an interesting circumstance of people being able to work on a problem together. I think it worked well. People got a view they haven’t seen before.”

He said sometimes it takes an outsider to bring two sides together.

George Abdella, former owner of Sherman's spoke during the informational meeting on Monday at Wheelerville Union Free School. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara )

Throughout Dake’s presentation he explained what Saratoga was like prior to SPAC being built.

“Saratoga was deemed unattractive,” Dake said. “I’ve talked to dozens of people. Saratoga was not the place to go, except during racing season.”

He said SPAC was opened in 1966 and since then Saratoga’s growth has boomed. He said the population of Saratoga tripled since 1950. Dake said Saratoga County is in the bottom 10 percent in the state for the cost per $1,000.

“The reason that happens is because they rely on sales tax,” Dake said. “This is what I want you to consider tonight.”

He said with sales tax, the burden would not be on the local residents, the burden would be on the visitors.

Kyle Price who proposed Sherman's become a performing arts center spoke during the informational meeting on Monday at Wheelerville Union Free School. The proposal will be voted on General Election Day. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara )

Dake then compared Sherman’s to SPAC. He said there used to be crowds of hundreds of people at Sherman’s and today it’s empty.

“What part of the past do you want to bring into the future?” Dake asked.

He explained that an attraction such as a performing arts center at Sherman’s could change the town’s finances and budget. Dake said Sherman’s will attract more business in town which woul bring more sales to the town.

Dake said he wants to “bring the shimmer back to Caroga.”

Following Dake’s presentation, Scott Horton, an investor who has made a proposal for the Sherman’s property, spoke of his vision of a town park at Sherman’s.

Scott Horton, who is proposing Sherman's become a town park spoke out during the informational meeting on Monday at Wheelerville Union Free School. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara )

“After seeing Brad’s presentations, I’m pleased that we have many similar visions,” Horton said.

He said he supports keeping Sherman’s as a public park to be used by residents, and not to be sold privately.

“If this property is sold, it will be gone forever,” Horton said. “Private ownership will be a bad idea.”

He said the park would be there forever, managed by seven volunteers on a parks and recreation committee.

“It will be the people who control what goes on this piece of property,” Horton said.

Brad Dake, a moderator, on Monday presented to the town of Caroga how a performing arts center could benefit the town by comparing Sherman's to the Saratoga Perfomring Arts Center. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara )

Kyle Price, who founded the CAC, the organization that has proposed to purchase the Sherman’s property, spoke following Horton.

He said CAC is a public charity that began in 2012 at his grandmother’s house with a $500 budget and has grown since then to a budget of $300,000. The CAC involves hundreds of artists and musicians who perform in the community throughout the year, and many of them Caroga residents.

“We are here for Caroga,” Price said.

He said it’s the experiences people have when attending CAC events that attracts local culture and business.

Price said CAC’s plans for Sherman’s will create a space for everyone.

James Hannahs and Jennifer Jennings spoke during the informational meeting on Monday at Wheelerville Union Free School. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara )

Also there to speak were James Hannahs, from the Fulton Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, and Jennifer Jennings, downtown development specialist for Gloversville, who both explained revitalization is a 15- to 20-year process.

“Revitalization is not fast, nor easy,” Jennings said.

The two told residents to imagine what Fulton County would look like if there was a culture and entertainment center in the town of Caroga. The two said it would bring an economic change to the region.

George Abdella, the former owner of the Sherman’s property, who recently filed a lawsuit against the town, also spoke at the forum.

Abdella spoke in favor of the CAC owning Sherman’s.

“I think it’s best for the town that the CAC own the property,” Abdella said. “Your taxes will be lower. [The CAC] will come and bring with them the most talented musicians and artists of all kinds. It will be a wonderful thing.”

He said he has great confidence in Price and the CAC.

Abdella said he believes it is in the best interest for the town and he believes the CAC’s vision and the vision of Horton are similar. Both visions include giving people more access to the lake.

“It will give the town some pride. It will make the town a better place, it will do what Brad Dake had said,” Abdella said. “We have confidence in this, the question is do we have confidence in the CAC and I certainly do and I wish them good luck no matter what.”

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