Tupper Lake town board takes time to look over dam bid

TUPPER LAKE – Bids were opened for Setting Pole Dam here, but town board members failed to reach an agreement.

During last month’s board meeting, Dennis Ryan, vice president of ECOsponsible Inc., proposed a plan to replace the existing dam with a new hydroelectric dam.

Ryan said the new dam could generate an estimated one megawatt of power, enough to power 300 homes, and would have a system to monitor the water level and electronically controlled flood gates.

The town board agreed to put the 7-acre Setting Pole Dam parcel up for bid with a minimum bid of $400,000. The parcel was assessed at $436,000 last year and is currently tax-exempt.

Ryan was again present Friday when the board opened ECOsponsible’s bid. It was the only bid they received.

The company’s offer included $400,000 for the dam, and an annual $12,000 donation for 50 years to support Tupper Lake’s amateur youth sport and summer day camp program. The bid also stated that the offer was good for 10 days.

Ryan told the board a series of assessments would have to be done before construction can begin.

“Our first item of business is to address the flood control and the automation of the flood control gates,” Ryan said. “We’ve got engineers locked and loaded and ready to go.”

Town Supervisor Roger Amell wanted to vote on the offer, but others on the board questioned whether the town was getting a good deal.

“I think, for the type of money we’re talking about, and selling an asset to the town, we’d be doing the taxpayer a disservice not having it professionally appraised,” said Councilman John Quinn. “I just think we’re acting in haste. We own it, it has value, and we don’t know what that value is.”

Quinn pointed out that a professional appraisal would cost $8,000, which is 2 percent of the asking price. Councilwoman Patti Littlefield backed him up.

“I think we should table the vote for today and discuss this further,” Littlefield asked. “That would give everyone time to mull this over.”

Amell countered that the board has known the dam would go out to bid for a month, and should make a decision so as not to lose the bid offer.

“Why didn’t you do your homework?” Amell asked Littlefield. “We’re in a position here. It’s a liability to the town; any improvement could cost the taxpayer a ton of money.”

In a previous interview with the Enterprise, Amell said Setting Pole Dam has stress cracks along its surface, and it would cost $25,000 to get an engineer to evaluate it and determine what would need to be done to remediate it. Amell added that subsequent repairs could cost up to $1 million.

The board unanimously passed a resolution to postpone making a decision on the bid until Thursday’s budget meeting.

Contact Shaun Kittle at 891-2600 ext. 25 or