Town puts Setting Pole Dam appraisal out to bid

TUPPER LAKE – The town board here unanimously passed a resolution during Monday’s meeting to put the appraisal of the 7-acre Setting Pole Dam property out to bid.

Board members said they would like interested appraisers to begin bidding within the next few weeks, but town attorney Kirk Gagnier must first write a request for proposal.

Once complete, the appraisal will determine the value of the property, which would then go out to bid. The cost of the appraisal will be tacked onto the minimum bid for the property.

Town Councilwoman Patti Littlefield, who was recently elected to take over Supervisor Roger Amell’s role in January, stressed that bidding should be advertised beyond local papers. Councilman John Quinn agreed and said there are appraisers in Utica, Buffalo and Vermont who might be interested.

The dam became a contentious topic last fall after the town put it up for bid with a minimum bid of $400,000. The parcel was assessed at $436,000 last year and is currently tax-exempt.

ECOsponsibile Inc. placed the only bid. It included $400,000 for the property, plus an annual $12,000 donation for 50 years to local youth programs.

The town board’s vote to approve the sale was split, with councilmembers Jerry Fletcher and Kathleen Lefebvre voting for the sale and Littlefield and Quinn voting against it. Amell broke the tie by voting in favor of selling the dam.

Littlefield and Quinn both voiced concerns about the sale and wondered if the town was getting the full value for the property.

Tupper Lake resident Larry Reandeau also took issue with the sale, and told the board that he was starting a petition to put the sale up to public vote.

In a letter last month addressed to “Tupper Lake Residents, Elected Officials and Businesses,” ECOsponsible Vice President Dennis Ryan rescinded the offer, writing, “We feel long-term litigation is not indicative of the win/win scenario we had envisioned for this project. It is with this in mind that we are withdrawing our bid to purchase Real Estate and Dam at Setting Pole Road.”

Ryan also told the Enterprise the project made the company a “ping-pong ball” in the Nov. 5 town election.