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Best chance at restoring the town’s status is with the CAC

The Sherman’s Amusement Park saga in Caroga Lake has vehemently divided the town as much as any issue I’ve ever seen. The result has been 4 years in limbo, unable to make a decision. Meanwhile the town suffers and slowly deteriorates, as does the Sherman’s Park itself.

Most home owners in Caroga Lake know the saga. The Cliff notes are as follows: Mr. George Abdella , owner of Sherman’s, gifted the Sherman’s property to the Town of Caroga in 2014, with the stipulations that it be properly maintained and that it could not be sold. Many town residents called “shenanigans” on the way the deal was made, and sought to block the deal. Nothing moved forward. The Town did nothing with, or to, the property. The Town board members were replaced over time.

Over the next 4 years of town “ownership” a not-for-profit music group formed. They called themselves the Caroga Arts Collective (CAC). They held free concerts at Sherman’s with the town’s permission. They have grown over the last few years and desired to make Caroga Lake their permanent home. They now would like to take possession of Sherman’s, so they can acquire the proper grants to build a first class concert venue on the water. They also promise to open the public beach, which has been closed for decades.

Other board members and town residents have expressed their desire to sell Sherman’s and put the money in the towns account. I’ve heard $250,000 was the amount being considered, but if put out to public bid might bring as much as $500,000. This would lessen the tax burden, and put the property back on the tax map.

Mr. Abdella, who is a very formidable lawyer, has threatened to sue the town for non-maintenance of the property, and for breaching the agreement not to sell the Sherman’s. He has agreed to drop the lawsuit if the town gives (or sells for $50,000) the Sherman’s property to the CAC.

On October 21, 2019 a public meeting was held where the same people that helped start SPAC showed much interest in the CAC and the Sherman’s property. They showed beautiful artist renditions of what the area could look like if the community gets behind the idea, and if they get their funding. They painted a very positive future for Caroga Lake. The Friday after that meeting, the town board held an emergency session in which they gave the Sherman’s property to the CAC. But wait…it’s not over yet. This Tuesday the voters are supposed to vote on the fate of Sherman’s. Now the results of that vote are to be sealed, because Sherman’s no longer belongs to the town (if it ever did). Now some residents are again calling shenanigans and threatening legal action against the town, saying the town had no right to give away Sherman’s, without the vote of the people.

In my opinion, most of the major decisions the board made with regards to Sherman’s was the right decision. They just went about it in the wrong manner. Everything should have been done up front in full daylight, but it wasn’t. Every step was challenged by factions declaring shenanigans. This latest one is no exception. It’s time to put all the shenanigans behind us and look only forward to the future. What is the best option for the residents of Caroga Lake? Everything up to this point is water under the bridge.

I will still cast my vote in favor of the CAC because I feel they are Caroga Lake’s best chance at restoring the town’s resort town status, and for bringing business back to Caroga Lake. Make Caroga Great Again.

JERRY L. GROOM

Caroga Lake