Tupper town board requests bids to appraise dam

TUPPER LAKE – The town board is about to put the appraisal of the 7-acre Setting Pole Dam parcel out to bid.

The board discussed the language of the bid during its meeting Thursday night.

“I’m not one to rush into this,” Councilman John Quinn said. “We kind of made a mistake, and I think that we took a well-deserved criticism for rushing this through. Let’s take our time.”

The board agreed that the bid should be advertised by Wednesday and that all bids received will be open at 1 p.m. Feb. 10, just before the Feb. 13 board meeting.

“What we’d like to do is something different than the way it’s been done before,” newly sworn-in town Supervisor Patti Littlefield explained. “We don’t want to open the bids at the board meeting. We want to open the bids ahead of time with the town clerk and myself and at least one witness. Then we’d create a summary of the bids so it’d be easier to review them.”

Littlefield said the summary would enable a board member to review the bids a day or two before the meeting and think about them before making a decision.

The board also agreed that a deadline for completing the appraisal, possibly 60 days within notice of the award, should be included in the bid. No one on the board was sure what a reasonable time frame is for appraising a dam, though.

“Put that in, and they’ll get back to you and tell you if that’s a reasonable deadline,” town Code Enforcement Officer Paul O’Leary told the board.

The board also discussed advertising the bid in newspapers as far away as Buffalo and Vermont, but nothing was decided for sure.

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.

The dam became a contentious topic in the 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 council members Jerry Fletcher and Kathleen Lefebvre voting for the sale and Littlefield and Quinn voting against it. Then-Supervisor Roger 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 he was starting a petition to put the sale up to public vote.

In a late October letter 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, in which Littlefield beat Amell in the supervisor race.

Contact Shaun Kittle at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or skittle@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.