Amell Lane budgeting challenged

TUPPER LAKE – The village police budget wasn’t the only concern for people who attended Monday night’s public budget hearing.

Two people in the packed village courtroom questioned the board on its inclusion of work on Amell Lane in the public works budget.

A debate on whether the village should pave Amell Lane has gone on since Roger Amell and his father bought the land in the Junction neighborhood and developed it with houses a little over a decade ago. They never paved the road, and residents there have complained that the street is too covered in potholes for school buses and mail carriers to drive down it. Last year, Amell – who was Tupper Lake town supervisor at the time – asked the village to pave and maintain it.

At a budget workshop last Wednesday, Mayor Paul Maroun said the Amell Lane project is in the budget “just in case” the village decides to pave it.

Residents Jim Moody and Ron LaScala made it clear Monday night that they don’t agree with that statement.

Moody, who lives on Tallman Street, told board members they should consider finishing work on McFarland Avenue before they consider paving Amell Lane or Church Street. Both projects were proposed in the tentative budget.

“We’ve got five houses there, and those people have been paying taxes for a lot longer than the people on Amell Lane,” Moody said. “Our road is a disgrace.”

Moody then invited the board members to take a look at the road after the meeting.

“I’m asking every board member, when they’re done here tonight, to drive up Joseph Street and take a right on McFarland and come down to my property line,” Moody said. “There’s a barricade because the road is so bad you can’t even get into my garage. Beyond that barricade there’s another 25 or 30 feet that belongs to the village. We’re just asking that, if you’re going to do Amell Lane, put money in the budget for our end of McFarland Ave.”

Several attendees applauded after Moody spoke, and Maroun thanked him for his comments.

A little later, LaScala also addressed the Amell Lane issue. He urged the board to take a stand and warned them that paving Amell Lane could be a slippery slope.

“Put your foot down, gentlemen,” LaScala said. “Our forefathers put those bylaws into place for a reason. So we’re going to bypass those bylaws, we’re going to spend money on paving the road, bringing it up to standard, and what’s going to come next? We own the road, so we’re talking sidewalks. That’s what’s next; they’re going to want sidewalks and street lights. There are several other private roads in this village, and those guys are going to want theirs done, too.”

Amell was not at the meeting and did not return the Enterprise phone calls.

LaScala told the Enterprise that Amell is making money off that property and should be responsible for upgrading it. He added that there are better ways the village can spend its money.

“To me, it’s nothing more than a political favor, and it’s a political favor with taxpayer dollars,” LaScala said. “I think they should reconsider this and take that money out of the budget for Amell Lane. Obviously, the police department needs it more than Roger does. That’s how you govern. We’re on the cusp of some really great things, but it can easily teeter one way or another.”

After the meeting, Maroun told the Enterprise the board hasn’t made any decisions on Amell Lane.

“We’re sending a letter to Mr. Amell to see if he even has it surveyed, to see if we’re going to go from our property to his property or what,” Maroun said. “You have to remember, with Amell Lane, in fairness to Roger Amell, he put the water and sewer in that we would have had to pay for.”

Maroun said it was important to remind people that Amell owns the land, but the village would collect taxes on properties there.

“Some of the newest homes in the village are built there, with some of the biggest assessments,” Maroun said. “They’re paying some big taxes. They’re the newest homes, so they’re assessed at more.”