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News

County paving help falling off?

Dan McClelland

Town officials here reacted to news reports that the Franklin County Highway Department will not do as much as it has in the past to help towns get their roads paved this year.

Reacting to recent news reports about the changing county highway department operation, Deputy Supervisor John Quinn told his colleagues this month that helping towns now with paving of roads is “now a low priority” for the county.

In the past the county highway department has brought its paving machine and a crew to help Tupper Lake and Harrietstown town crews tackle their early fall paving projects.

“It doesn't do much good (for the county) to tell us in late October that we're now yours to help, when the batch plants are closed and there's no asphalt,” asserted Mr. Quinn.

He said he was aware Harrietstown officials have expressed their dissatisfaction with the new county highway department plan.

Mr. Quinn said he has discussed the issue with Highway Superintendent Bill Dechene and Supervisor Patti Littlefield at length in recent weeks.

He said while he wasn't fully aware of the history of the county helping towns to pave their roads, he said he understands that many towns and the county purchased the paving equipment cooperatively years ago. It has been shared since.

“-And now the county is saying we may not have the time to serve all towns! We have our own needs to meet!”

He said it seems the county has encountered some scheduling and manpower problems and “it is making a county problem a town problem now!”

The councilman said the towns in southern Franklin County get “precious little help” from the county. “Our tax dollars go north, as a rule.”

“We need to ask our county legislator (Paul Maroun) to push that issue and free up the county paver to help us out!”

“We got a quote for paving (not including materials) of $5,500 per day. That's a budget killer!”

Supervisor Littlefield said she recently met with other town supervisors in Malone, as part of a process by which town supervisors meet with county officials and others periodically to talk about government efficiencies and how governments can work together to save taxpayers money.

“The topic of paving came up at the last meeting. The gist of it is...and we haven't officially been told...we're not getting the county paver this fall.”

She said the county's aim this year is for the county road crew to pave county roads which have been neglected in recent years while the equipment and crew has been sent to towns and villages to help them with their projects.

She added the crew has been assigned here in recent years, and to other towns. “This year, however, they are saying they want to pave county roads that have been let go, because the county paver has gone to towns to help.”

Complicating the paving work by the county crew is the fact, she said, that the state first takes product from the various batch plants around the North Country and the mix for the state is different.

“The batch plants cater to the state. So we can't get our asphalt each year until the state finishes getting theirs.”

The supervisor noted that sometimes that just leaves weeks at the end of each paving season for the towns and counties to get their paving jobs completed.

“So while I agree with John- the county needs to revamp the way it does things, but if the county is saying it's a one and done year thing,” something could be worked out for this one year.

If the county takes too long to do all its work, before it comes to help the towns, it is likely it will be too late to do any paving this fall as the batch plants close in late October, she told her board members.

The supervisor said several paving projects here were budgeted this year using state CHIPs money. “The money we use to purchase asphalt and lay it down each year comes from the CHIP!”

She said she wished John Klimm, who has been pushing the town to use those funds to fix his Upper Park St. sidewalk (see related story this week) had still been present that evening to hear that.

She said that his figure of over $300,000 the town has received in the past three years was correct. “And even if we used all of that and added more, that wouldn't be enough to pay for that new sidewalk!”

In answer to a question from Mr. Quinn she said some of the CHIPs money each year goes into the highway department budget for paving and paving materials and all of it is accounted for in the town books. “Every penny!” she stressed.

Again in response to Mr. Klimm's assertions earlier that night, she said the CHIPs money each year is used for many other things- roads, sidewalks, culverts each year in the work done by the town crew.

She said it was less than a year ago that her board learned it was responsible for caring for sidewalks along state highways here. “So it is unfair to accuse the town of not spending its money on a sidewalk that up until 12 months ago we did not know we might be responsible for!”

Mrs. Littlefield said the town is still in discussions with the state DOT about what's the best solution there: fixing the old sidewalk or removing it.

After talking to many of Mr. Klimm's neighbors the jury is still out on that.

“We are not going to jump into spending $300,000 on a new sidewalk until we know it's the right thing to do!”

“-And that may take a while because we know things in government take awhile. There's a process!”

On another paving issues discussed by town leaders on August 8, Councilman Mike Dechene wondered who was responsible for new striping on Stetson Road that the county crew paved last fall. He said traveling the road at night was dangerous without stripes.

Highway Superintendent Bill Dechene said the county crew was planning to do it this fall.

“The county highway superintendent told me they didn't apply the reflective, epoxy paint on last fall because it was too cold,” the supervisor said. Temporary paint was apparently used in it place but it wore off over the winter.

“The county superintendent told me he planned to do it this year,” she added. “He indicated to me he would do it when they came up to pave!”

“When you are driving there at night on a wet highway, without stripes, you don't know where you are driving,” Councilman Dechene stressed.

“The southern part of the county- paying most of the county taxes”- continues to get the poorest service from the county!

Plenty of great pieces in Tupper Lake Art Show underway now

Dan McClelland

Over three dozen local and area artists' officially opened the Tupper Lake Arts Show with a reception and “meet the artists” event last Wednesday. The show, which features some very exquisite and detailed artistic pieces, runs through September 7 so there's plenty of time to take in all the talent between now and then at the Tupper Arts headquarters at 106 Park Street. Jim Lanthier provided the Free Press this week with this great group shot of most of the artists, photographers and sculptors participating.

Over three dozen local and area artists' officially opened the Tupper Lake Arts Show with a reception and “meet the artists” event last Wednesday. The show, which features some very exquisite and detailed artistic pieces, runs through September 7 so there's plenty of time to take in all the talent between now and then at the Tupper Arts headquarters at 106 Park Street. Jim Lanthier provided the Free Press this week with this great group shot of most of the artists, photographers and sculptors participating.

Chris Gilman hits Scouts milestone

Dan McClelland

Eagle Scout Chris Gilman at his Eagle Court of Honor (photo provided).

Eagle Scout Chris Gilman at his Eagle Court of Honor (photo provided).

by Ian Roantree

Since its inception in the early twentieth century, the Boy Scouts of America have seen more than two million boy scouts earn the Eagle Scout rank, the highest advancement rank in boy scouting.

Tupper Lake’s own, Christopher Gilman, son of Dori and Tom Gilman, has joined the more than two million Eagle Scouts, just in time before he makes his next big step of leaving home, and heading off to college.

The young Gilman joined Boy Scouts in the spring of 2012. By the fall of that year, he had earned his Scout and Tenderfoot ranks, which marked the beginning of his journey to eagle scout. Throughout his Scout career, he would continue to move through the ranks and earn merit badges. As a cub, Chris became a Webelos Scout and earned the Arrow of Light award, the highest rank and award of Cub Scouting.

By June 24 of this year, Chris finally earned his Eagle Scout rank and an Eagle Scout ceremony was held for Chris on August 3 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church.

Chris is the fourth local scout to become an Eagle Scout in the past year.

To become an Eagle Scout, a scout must earn a number of merit badges, demonstrate Scout spirit, service and leadership. The merit badges required include camping, citizenship and community, citizenship in the nation, citizenship in the world, communication, cooking, emergency preparedness, environmental science, family life, first aid, swimming, personal management and personal fitness.

Chris also explored other activities and earned merit badges that aren’t required for the Eagle Scout rank which include archery, aviation, canoeing, kayaking, leatherwork, motor boating, rifle, space exploration and wood carving.

“The thing with the Merit Badge is that it gives the scout a chance to sample different things,” said Eagle Scout, Troop 23 Scout Master and Chris’ father, Tom Gilman. “Maybe a scout would say, ‘I want to do that for a career or just a hobby.’ It gives them a broad exposure.”

Earning merit badges prepares a scout for and arms them with survival skills as well with skills and knowledge for everyday life. For example, for the personal management merit badge, a merit badge counselor takes a scout to the bank to learn about investments, and loans and interest.

There’s the citizenship badges where a scout must attend town meetings and talk about things that are effecting the community or the nation. It may seem like homework for some scouts, but down the line, it’s much more than that.

Aside from the merit badges required to earn the Eagle Scout rank, a scout must complete an Eagle Service Project, a project where the scout must, in some way, give back to the community.

Chris’ project was the preservation and beatification of the Junction Pass Trail. In a project that took over 90 hours, Chris set out to treat all of the wooden structures throughout the trail. Chris treated all of the bridges, benches, railings, fences and posts, preserving and maintaining them.

To add the cherry on top of his Eagle Scout project, Chris had nine wooden flower boxes built and had flowers donated to be planted in the boxes and placed at every entrance to the trail.

This project required advanced planning, acquiring materials, which were donated by local businesses and manpower for completion.

“His mom and I are so proud of Chris,” said Tom Gilman, who became an Eagle Scout 33 years before his son. “He accomplished something that he set out to do.”

Throughout Chris’ middle and high school career, he participated in a many extracurriculars, including modified cross country, the Saranac Lake Nordic Ski Team, modified baseball, varsity baseball, where he earned the All Academic Award and the Super Utility Player Award. He played varsity football in grades 11 and 12 and was awarded the Lawrence Fuller Memorial Award, the Phil Datola Memorial Award, the All Academic Award, and was considered a Scholar Athlete. Chris also played Varsity Basketball and was in the school ski club.

Having graduated from Tupper Lake High School this spring, Chris’ next steps are to SUNY Canton where he will work towards a bachelor of science in cyber security.

Six teams compete for tournament title

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

Six teams turned up for the sixth annual Samantha Pickering volleyball tournament Saturday on the municipal park's triple courts. The weather was cool and overcast, perfect for the teams of three and four players.

One of the teams came from as far away as the Boston area. Alan Imlach's brother, James and his family were up visiting and put together a team for the tournament.

The event each year is organized by Samantha's mother Patti and her stepfather Alan and by many friends and family members. In the first five years over $14,000 was raised which provides a $500 scholarship to a college bound high school senior pursuing a career in athletics or education, as Samantha did.

Lindsay Maroun, the first scholarship winner, is now employed at the Tupper Lake Central School.

The family's goal is to do the event for ten years and raise about $20,000 to make the annual scholarships self-sustaining. The goal is clearly on track.

Familiar faces from past years were Rit Roberge, who did much of the tournament game arrangements, Gary Casagrain and Scott LaLonde, who hasn't been able to play for several years due to an illness but who has been involved every year. Scott coached Sam for many years she was in high school and college.

Every team plays each other once and the winners move up the division until a champion is crowned. It makes for a lot of play for participants.

Casagrain Studio, anchored by artist Gary, won the event this year and second place was Bookstore Plus. Team Al (for Imlach) took third. Other teams were Boston's J. Mike and TL Varsity.

This year featured a trio from the high school volleyball team who were Sierra LaVallee, London Tyo and Elaina Daniels.

The Lions food rig was on site and staffed by Samantha's grandparents, Trudy and LeRoy Pickering. All Lions sales amounting to over $300 were donated that day to Sam's scholarship.

Samantha Pickering was a star volleyball player in both high school and college at Potsdam, where she was captain of her team and its major force. A statue of Sam stands in the college's athletic department and her No. 4 number was retired after her untimely death about six years ago.

Uptown testing site still not producing samples that pass state standards

Dan McClelland

All village water customers in both the village and town received another notice this week from the Village of Tupper Lake that the local system still contains levels of hazardous chemicals above amounts permitted in state water standards.

The village routinely monitors its system for the presence of drinking water contaminants. Testing results from 2018 and 2019 show that the system exceeded the standard or maximum contaminant level (MCL) for Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids (HAA5s) based on collections at the Pine Grove Restaurant and the village office. The MCL for TTHM is 80 parts per billion and the MCL for HAA5 is 60 parts per billion.

In the second quarter of this year the village office location produced samples of 81.3 ppb of TTHMs and 73 ppb for HAA5s. The numbers continue to decrease, however, in the running average.

The village tests quarterly and averages it samples taken at each location for a running yearly average.

The good news this week is that the contaminants found at the 166 Main St. location are now below the maximum state limits and no violations exists. The reason for that is that all the water there now comes from the new wells beyond Pitchfork Pond.

The levels of the two believed to be possibly harmful elements is still above state standards at the village office testing site, but they are decreasing with each testing.

The reason for the bad results there is that some of the water in the uptown neighborhoods is still coming from the surface water source at Little Simond where the filtration plant is still in operation. Surface water sources contain organic matter which when combined with chlorine form TTHMs and HAA5s.

It is expected that the two chemicals will drop within the next several quarters as more and more well water is used in the system so the water samples coming from the village office meet state standards.

For years the village system has been in violation of state standards as all the water drawn came from surface water sources either at Tupper Lake or Little Simond. After new wells were opened beyond Pitchfork Pond last year, the Moody filtration plant was closed, eliminating the big lake as a water source. Now the local water system is a mix of well water and surface water from Little Simond. Well water requires less chlorine to disinfect it and hence produces fewer chemicals.


Proposed zoning law draft still in infancy, supervisor says

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

Town leaders made it very clear Thursday that any adoption of the proposed and revised zoning ordinance is a long ways off and will be adopted by local boards only after extensive study and review.

Attending that night's monthly town meeting were about a dozen citizens, most of whom were troubled by the zoning proposal released in May.

Supervisor Patti Littlefield welcomed the people, telling them that while most meetings permit members of the public to make comments to the board for up to five minutes, the public input time that evening would be limited to about two minutes a person, given the numbers in attendance.

She asked the group's permission to be the first person to speak in that night's public comment session.

“I have a good idea of why you are all here. Regarding the zoning update plan presented at a public meeting in May and again in July, it is a joint village and town project.” She said Town Councilman John Quinn, who served on the 13-member volunteer public advisory committee (PAC) which worked with the consultants to formulate the new zoning law proposal, and Attorney Kirk Gagnier would detail some of the changes that evening after she was done.

She said the first meeting drew a good crowd as did the second one last month, organized to give summer residents a chance to hear about the proposal and the work done by the drafters.

“I understand there's a lot of people shook up about the campsite business,” she said of the time restrictions in the new plan for occupying recreational trailers in the town each summer and fall.

“This is the very, very, very beginning of reviewing” the current proposal. “This is in no way going to become effective in the near future. We have a long way to go before that happens!”

She said she welcomes the community “getting involved” in the process by reading the 140-page document and comparing it to the existing law.

“Thank you all for coming. I hope that everyone who has something to say formally will do so respectfully. We're not here to point fingers or make trouble for anyone! We're here to be intelligent-speaking adults” talking about what we feel about the new code draft. “Remember, it's a draft!”

“This board as well as the village board have not even been presented formally with this draft to review it. We will do this soon.”

She said she recently penned a letter to Mayor Paul Maroun, to the PAC members and to the two code enforcement officers “to sit down soon as a group and review all the parts of the draft, so we all have a better understanding of it. No one understands all of this thing cover to cover, unless you have lived with it in past months.”

She said most people here don't know the draft document or the original law well at this point in the discussion process.

“Both boards will review it intensely before any action is taken.” Before it is ever adopted, however, it will come before the public in one or more public hearings “so the public will have many opportunities to make comments on the next version.”

She called the draft document “the very first draft.”

She asked those in the room to cite their concerns, noting that the entire code wouldn't be dissected that night piece by piece. “That's the purpose of the public hearing(s).”

She held up a new red folder where she said the town board would keep all the written comments of people here for its later review. She presented her business card carrying her e-mail address for people to e-mail the town with their questions and concerns. E-mails should also be sent to Mayor Maroun, she advised.

“So when it come time for review by both boards, and possibly another committee, we will have written information we can rely on,” as opposed to verbal comments. “When things are in writing, we can refer back to them. Put your comments in writing...we want to review them all!”

Councilman John Quinn said the town and village zoning and planning boards, plus the code officers, have for years “expressed deficiency with a lot of the existing land use code. It's out of date, it's years old, it shouldn't be a static document, but it is!”

He said they wanted a code that was more “dynamic” and could be easily updated regularly “to bring it into the 21st century.

“Hearing this we, the town board, discussed with Melissa McManus, who works for the village as a consultant, about getting grant funding to hire professional land use/zoning experts to take a look at our code, make recommendations, work with a local committee (the PAC).”

He said the committee, of which he was a member, went “line by line” through the consultants' proposals. There was a kick-off meeting last year with good local press coverage. That was followed by another public information meeting in May and another in July.

“There were many thoughtful comments” at both the recent meetings.

“The PAC met again to discuss the comments that had been made. We tweaked it further. The PAC is local citizen volunteers, who included people on the planning board, local code enforcement officers, school district employees, a local attorney and a few citizens at large.”

The goal of the PAC members, he said, was to take “a common sense” look at the work of the consultant.

“We went through the earlier drafts and made comments” to the consultants.

“It was very informal...no one was a professional (land use expert) who served on the PAC. If we were to hold these volunteer organization to have agendas and minutes of their meetings, you just kill volunteerism here!”

“It's hard enough to get people to come in and take time out of their busy days and read this stuff and work with it.”

The PAC, he said, was not a public body with any decision-making authority. There was also no requirement for a quorum. “Whoever showed up, that was the group that reviewed what we had going on that meeting.”

“If you read the state's open meetings law, there is no requirement for advisory bodies to have minutes (of the meetings). Our minutes were the work product...the draft document which is available on our web site” or from the local code officers.

After the meeting in July, he said, the work of the PAC was essentially finished. “It's product is done...it no longer needs to meet, although there may be merit to reconvene that group or a subset of it to take a look at further changes.”

“It is my understanding that we have a draft code now and we are accepting comments on it or the adoption of it, how long that may be. It will go to the planning board for its review.” Both the town and village attorneys will review it. “Ultimately the planning board will make a recommendation to both boards.” He added before it could local law, it would require both boards to approve it after public hearings.

“So that's how we got from frustration on the part of our planning board and our code officers to something that makes a little more sense and is more modern, not 30 or 40 years old,” he concluded.

When it was Attorney Kirk Gagnier's time to address the group, he said “the biggest thing is don't panic; there's still a long way to go, in terms of this whole process!”

“It's not in the hands of the two boards yet, and it may not be this year!”

The reason there is no hurry in approving the new proposal is that zoning already exists here, the attorney told them.

“The town was fortunate enough to get a grant to look at its code...to hire someone professionally to do that and not have to pay for that work!”

He said these types of consultants work for all sorts of communities- both big and small- across the state. “They look at all the issues, they listen to local people on the advisory board and they come up with a list of recommendations that is a start!”

“That's where we are right now! We are early in the process and there are still a number of things to look at!”

He said the supervisor's request for written public comments “is a good way to go, because it gets to the people” who serve on the town and village boards. Verbal comments often get lost in the mix, he added.

The comments may address things that the consultants or the PAC members never considered, he speculated.

He said those people “can only think of so much. That's one of the things about zoning...you can't create a code or a law that contemplates everything.”

“Having been at some of those meetings, and feeling the spirit there, it's not about hurting businesses or residents or trying to take things away. It's about trying to come up with a land use code that better reflects the new realities today, versus 40 years ago.”

He said in any zoning code there are “pieces that are going to affect people in different ways. Some pieces will be misunderstood.”

Parts of the law will be misinterpreted in different ways and when those things are pointed out they can be fixed, he said of the process ahead.

“Don't panic, because I can tell you it's going to take a long time.”

He said it took Lake Placid five years to update its land use code. “It can be a really long process.”

Mr. Gagnier said the Town of Santa Clara is currently overhauling its land use code, clarifying some things. “The reason officials there are doing this is because some landowners pointed out some things in the code there” that no longer work in that township.

The updating process, he said, is all about local governments and the people working collaboratively to get all the information in any new code so everyone can review it.

“Zoning is not going to go away. It's here and it's here to stay.

“The aim is to refine it so it helps people in the community. That's really the goal!”

He said by the time the process gets to the two boards for a vote, a lot of local people will have had a lot of input and there will have been many changes.

“This isn't about the town or the village trying to ram something down (your throats). It was an opportunity to re-tool something that needed a lot of help!” the town attorney concluded.

Village leaders commit to River Pigs' arrival

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

Village leaders yesterday morning made a commitment to spend as much as $37,000 on capital improvements to the municipal park ball field to accommodate the arrival of Tupper Lake's new Empire League semi-pro team next summer. As a follow-up to that motion the local officials went on record that from now on only baseball will be played there.

Baseball fans in the community have been buzzing for over a week since it was reported that Empire League President Eddie Gonzalez wants to expand his upstate league to include a team from Tupper Lake, the River Pigs.

Village board members have been courting the official this past month, after Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau was coaxed by Trustee David “Haji” Maroun to get an Empire League team for Tupper. The Saranac Lake mayor since last year secured for his community its new Surge team Mr. Rabideau set up a meeting between Mr. Gonzalez and a fired-up village delegation at the Hotel Saranac, where this whole venture began to take shape.

That meeting was followed by two others at the local diamond to give the league president a view of the local facilities and he was impressed by what he found here. The big lights, recently overhauled by the village, will give him the opportunity to schedule evening games which he said he liked.

Working with the board to bring a team to this community is a committee chaired by Trustee Maroun and with members who include Rick and Jay Skiff, Royce Cole, Jed Dukett and Trustee Ron LaScala. Members Rick Skiff, Fire Chief Royce Cole and Mr. Dukett attended Monday's board session.

After a 45-minute long briefing of the improvements to the ball field that will be needed to bring the team here by Trustee Maroun and Rick Skiff that morning, Ron LaScala called for a commitment from the board.

He offered two motions. The first was for the board to develop a new policy for all groups using the municipal park going forward. “From each organization we'll need a site plan and the boundaries of the park it will use” before this board should give its approval.

“It'll tell us exactly what footprint of the park they intend to use!”

He called for that policy to be drafted by the end of next week for board review.

He said the village has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the municipal park through its recent waterfront revitalization grants and “it needs to protect its assets.”

“There needs to be strong rules” to guide events and activities there from now on, he continued.

He said too if the board is “going to commit” to hosting a new semi-pro baseball team here and spend taxpayers' money to that end, “the only thing that will be going on inside the ball field will be baseball.”

That became the meat of the second motion.

Mayor Paul Maroun hoped a new policy could be drafted in time for next Wednesday's village board meeting.

Asked by Jim Lanthier about the fate of events like the Woodsmen's Days and Rock the Arc which have traditionally used the ball field area, it was explained they would be moved to the outer and larger areas on the west side of the park. Mr. Lanthier, who attends most village board meetings, also made a pitch for the return of the horse pull to the Sunday of Woodsmen's Days.

He said when he took photos of the event during the Sundays when the horse pulls were held, the grandstand was packed. In recent years, since their departure, there has been no one sitting there.

“This board wants to work with every group” to help them use the park better, Mayor Maroun told him.

“We want more events in our park, not fewer!” echoed Ron LaScala.

He and the mayor both said the big events now in the ball field can be moved over to the west side of the site, where the annual Masonic Lodge flea market is always held.

They said between the village, town and school district all events here in the park can be served. Trustee LaScala suggested help could come in the form of bleachers, new lights, etc. in the western portion.

He thinks the events and their organizers will be better served by that help and by consolidating their footprint in that section of the park.

Concern has been expressed in the past week by officers of the Woodsmen's Association about the relocation of their big event.

“They are a private organization, and if they decide to pull out that's their decision. But we're not looking to get rid of anyone...to force anyone out...we're looking for more events for the park,” said Trustee LaScala.

Fire Chief Royce Cole suggested convening a meeting between the organizers of the events in the park and the new baseball committee. He suggested joint events could be staged there with a big event on one end, a baseball game in the ball park, a Little League game in its new field and music at the bandshell.

“I'm 100 percent in favor of all of this,” he told the board. “-And if we all work together we can make it happen!”

Speaking of his committee members feelings, he said “we have no desire to push anyone out!”

The new baseball committee, directed by Trustee Maroun, will assist the team to make it successful here- everything from promoting the 26 to 28 home games each summer to fundraising to making repairs to the grounds and its buildings.

Trustee LaScala said he and Mr. Maroun committed last year to bringing more events to the municipal park and the new Empire League's arrival is one way.

He said for eight to ten weeks next summer there will be activity there almost every day. There could be as many as four Empire League games a week during its season which begins mid-June and ends in August.

He estimated it might take five years to bring the facility and local interest for the baseball play to its full potential, but the end result will be worth it.

With the ball field's development, he said, he hopes will be the arrival of food and drink concession there, including beer sales.

He predicted the new league, with its minimal $5 per adult admission charge and free for children, will develop the park “into something as American as it can be!”

Mr. LaScala noted that during their meeting at the Hotel Saranac when this entire venture began to gel, he met a father of one of the players on The Surge.

He said he told us many families will come here on their vacations to see their sons play and stay for a few days.

Trustee Haji Maroun, who attends all the Surge games in the afternoons with his son, Carson, said the games “attract a ton of people” even though they are held at 1p.m.

He said he recently ran into Frank Camelo, originally of Tupper Lake, who attends many of the games at the Petrova field, and he mentioned he was a bat boy when the Yankees had an affiliate team in Tupper Lake in the 1940s. “Frank told me the attendance at the local games during those years when the semi-pro team was here was amazing!”

The field and stadium developed here as part of the Civilian Conservation Corp projects of the 1930s were somewhat modeled after Yankee stadium, it was noted yesterday morning.

Trustee Clint Hollingsworth asked his colleagues what they thought the overall economic impact of the new baseball team would have on the community, compared with the village's investment in the ball field this year and in the years ahead.

Trustee Maroun said the players will live here and spend their small salaries here. The players receive about $200 week, but the principle purpose of playing in the league is giving them exposure to major league scouts, he explained. He noted six players from the Empire League have already been called up so far this summer.

He added families of players will also visit here to see the 18 to 25 year olds play.

Next week, we'll look at the punch list of expenditures Trustee Maroun and his committee pitched to the full board yesterday.

ADK Concierge: New business started to help summer, seasonal resident

Dan McClelland

Resized_20190618_165910.jpeg

There's a new business in town designed to care for all the needs of seasonal residents and summer visitors.

ADK Concierge, owned by Mike Vaillancourt and Barbara Denis, grew out of Mike's Sootbusters and Treebusters businesses which have many clients in the greater Tupper Lake area, many of them seasonal residents.

“Many of the summer folks told me there are no professional cleaning companies in the area which are insured,” he told the Free Press recently.

“That's why we started it, because there was a need for it!”

The new company began about six months ago with a “soft” un-advertised start to learn as they grew, he noted.

Already the new company has about 25 clients.

This is the message to prospective clients found on the company's business card: “We know your time is a valuable commodity and ADK Concierge wants you to enjoy your time in the Adirondacks with your family and friends. Let us take care of your cleaning, shopping and everything in between with our housekeeping and concierge services.”

“We cater to only second home families right now,” he noted.

Mike explained the company does for the arriving summer people “anything they need.”

“Our primary role is cleaning and we do it in a very green way,” using only environmentally friendly and natural products.

He said a client may e-mail them before their arrival that they will be coming up on Friday, say, and when they arrive they'd like there to be food products like milk, butter, etc. in their fridge.

“So we stock their fridges, stock their cupboards...whatever they need!”


“We run around before they arrive and do their errands. That way, everything is in place, especially if they arrive late at night.”

“That way they can enjoy their time in camp from the start and not have to go out and run errands first.”

The firm employs one full-time person, Catherine Lohr, and seven part-time employees. The part-time staff work as needed.

Both the owners direct the cleaning staff. Sometimes they have crews at multiple sites.

“We are fully insured and we pay our employees between $18 and $20 per hour.” Whereas many local cleaners operate “off the books,” he said their company carries liability and worker's compensation insurances so all clients are protected.

“Second home people don't mind spending the extra money because it's important to them to protect their assets.”

The company has purchased vehicles to carry the employees to their job sites and uniforms for them to wear, so they don't damage their own clothes.

The area of service of the new company is a radius of about 50 miles from Tupper Lake. “We have a lot of clients in the Cranberry Lake and Star Lake areas.”

“We haven't really tapped the Lake Placid area yet.”

Concierge businesses are new to the area, he figures. “Before we first launched our web site, www.adkconcierge.com, the first hits for cleaning services we got were laundromats and my firm, Sootbusters.”

“Our clients are enthusiastic about what we are doing and what we offer.”

He said he does not feel he has taken anything away from the conventional cleaners here as they never offered these extra services or carried the proper insurances.

Asked about special requests so far, he said some of the people they serve have asked for flowers upon arrival, if it's a birthday or anniversary they are celebrating.

“Sometimes people will mail a card up in advance for us to place with the flowers or gifts.”

Most times the company leaves small chocolates and other treats to greet the arriving guests.

“We're trying to make people happy when they visit here!”

The firm can reached by calling 518 739-1717.





Fortune’s Hardware paint donation helps Tupper Lake CSD youth achieve

Dan McClelland

Paint to brighten school    Maurice Fortune of Fortune's Hardware and School Superintendent Seth McGowan were joined by Tupper Lake day campers last week to show off the 30 gallons of paint that will soon be applied to the interior of the L.P. Quinn Elementary School. The town day campers (not in order) who helped build this paint-can pyramid were Layne Locke, Olivia Chesbrough, Braydon Shannon, Sireea Zaidan, Lacy Pickering, Liam Kavanagh, Tucker Savage and Ashton Metz. (McClelland photo)

Paint to brighten school

Maurice Fortune of Fortune's Hardware and School Superintendent Seth McGowan were joined by Tupper Lake day campers last week to show off the 30 gallons of paint that will soon be applied to the interior of the L.P. Quinn Elementary School. The town day campers (not in order) who helped build this paint-can pyramid were Layne Locke, Olivia Chesbrough, Braydon Shannon, Sireea Zaidan, Lacy Pickering, Liam Kavanagh, Tucker Savage and Ashton Metz. (McClelland photo)

A fresh coat of paint brightens any room, and this summer LP Quinn Elementary School will refresh its learning environment with 30 gallons of donated paint.

Tupper Lake Central School District was selected as the winner of a paint grant through Fortune’s Hardware’s partnership with True Value Foundation’s Painting a Brighter Future program. A True Value Foundation paint grant helps improve a school’s learning environment and can have an impact on student attitudes and academic performance. Over 1,600 schools across the country have been awarded paint since the program’s inception in 2009, covering nearly 17 million square feet of learning space.

Partnering with True Value Foundation, Fortune’s Hardware nominated Tupper Lake CSD for a 30 gallon paint grant to help refresh its learning spaces. Maurice Fortune of Fortune’s Hardware delivered the asthma- and allergy-friendly paint to the school Friday.

True Value’s EasyCare Ultra Premium Acrylic Latex paint has earned the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Mark via an independent certification program established in the United States, which helps consumers identify products more suitable for people with asthma and allergies. The program performs physical and chemical testing on products to ensure they minimize irritants and pollutants in the air and reduce potential exposure to allergens. The asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Mark is awarded only to products that are scientifically proven to reduce potential exposure to asthma and allergy triggers.

LP Quinn Elementary School is using the paint to give its cafeteria a much-needed makeover. The students next fall will enjoy grabbing their meals in the newly painted facility.

True Value Foundation unites retailers in helping improve the lives of children in the communities True Value serves. The foundation advocates for youth and serves as a catalyst to provide tools and resources to help youth realize their dreams and achieve their potential. It encourages its partners to get involved and give back through volunteerism, mentorship, community improvements, and raising funds.

Jim & E Tuesday at bandshell

Dan McClelland

Tupper Arts very successful Summer Sunset Series every Tuesday evening this summer continues on August 6 with a performance by Tupper Lake's Jim and E, who appear regularly at local venues. Jim Boucher also regularly hosts open mike nights at P-2's Irish Pub.

The free performance on the Sunset Stage of the Lions bandshell in Flanders' Park will begin at 7p.m. In the event of rain, the show will be moved to Tupper Arts' headquarters on Park Street.

The summer concert series has been underwritten for the most part by the Village of Tupper Lake. Donations are also most welcome and go to further the work of the local arts organization.

Every week day next week too at Tupper Arts at 106 Park Street is a busy time for local and visiting kids. On tap is the Little Loggers Open Mike Camp.

The camp will lead to a performance at the bandshell that Friday at the bandshell from 10:30a.m. to noon when the emerging talent will be showcased.

For information visit Tupperarts.com

“Play ball” will be cry from the park next summer when semi-pro River Pigs take the field

Dan McClelland

IMG_4669.jpg

by Dan McClelland

Tupper Lake baseball fans could be enjoying semi-pro baseball action at the village park ball field as early as next summer, if a league owner from Florida and the village leaders can pull it off. -And the chances right now look very good for it!

This past week village leaders met with Eddie Gonzalez, president of New York's Empire League, several times to work out a plan to bring a semi-pro team here.

The new team will be called the Tupper Lake River Pigs, a name Mr. Gonzalez discovered when he was researching Tupper Lake and its early logging history. A river pig was what they often called the river drivers who moved logs from forests to the mills here.

Some figured the name Timberjax, the local team in an earlier semi-pro league in the North Country, could have been resurrected, but that name is apparently trade-marked.

Tupper Lake was also home to a semi-pro team in the 1930s.

The prospect of a semi-pro team coming here came at the urging of Trustee David “Haji” Maroun, a former softball pitcher here, who has been attending the games of the Surge of Saranac Lake with his son, Carson, this season. Haji and his son kept urging Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Radibeau, who was responsible for bringing the Surge to Saranac Lake, to get a team for Tupper.

The Saranac Lake mayor put Tupper Lake leaders and Mr. Gonzalez together for meetings last week.

On Wednesday Mayor Paul Maroun and Trustees Ron LaScala and David Maroun and former softball league chief Rick Skiff met with Mr. Gonzalez and Mayor Rabideau in Saranac Lake at the Hotel Saranac. The next night some of them met the league owner at the ball field to show him their enthusiasm for the deal.

A week ago last Thursday Trustee Maroun showed Mr. Gonzalez the Tupper athletic field and he was very impressed with the condition of the place, and particularly the modern lights which were updated by the village several years ago and which will permit night games next summer.

The lights may have to be adjusted to account for the larger playing surface.

On the second visit to the field last Thursday, Mr. Gonzalez was accompanied by his wife and small children, who included his son who came suited up and ready to hit a few with his dad in the new park.

That evening he was greeted by about a half dozen of the biggest baseball fans in Tupper Lake, who included Jay and Rick Skiff, Jed Dukett, Trustee Maroun, Royce Cole, Carson Maroun and Trustee Ron LaScala. Most of those men will form the board to oversee the redevelopment of the park ball field and improvements eyed, under the chairmanship of Trustee Haji Maroun.

“We'll be working for Ed but we won't get paid,” the trustee said of the volunteer commitment.

The owner of Tupper Lake's new River Pigs is likely to be Matt Joyce, center fielder of the Atlanta Braves, who is reportedly an investor in Mr. Gonzalez's league.

Trustee Maroun is very excited by the prospects of semi-pro ball coming to our park. Haji is a lifelong baseball fan.

The semi pro players, who are often mostly college players, receive a small salary to play in the league against The Surge, the Plattsburgh Thunderbirds, the New York Bucks from north of Plattsburgh and three other teams, including two teams from Puerto Rico and one from New Hampshire.

But mostly it gives them exposure to scouts searching for talent for the majors.

There are apparently another six teams in another division Mr. Gonzalez has in the southern states.

Mr. Maroun said his board will be soliciting support from businesses and others in the community to help cover team expenses.

He said there will be a $5 admission charge for all 26 games next July and August, but youngsters 16 years and below will be admitted free.

He said these teams in Mr. Gonzalez's league are very kid-oriented, staging special events and activities at games to promote the sport and children's passion for it.

“Eddie guaranteed me the league's all-star game will be played in Tupper Lake next year.”

The league play will replace the softball leagues which re-emerged in recent years but again disappeared this year.

There will be a provision that some of the softball league's annual weekend tournaments can still be played there, as in the past.

Very few changes will need to be made to the field, as it currently stands. The four foot high softball fence will be removed. The 90-foot long baselines will remain.

Mr. Maroun said they have plans to “sod” the infield area, which is currently covered in clay.

The distances to right-center and left-center fields,with fencing modifications, will be 395 feet, according to the trustee.

Young Carson Maroun said at a recent game he and his dad attended in Saranac Lake a batter hit it out of the park on the Petrova Ave. field and over the bleachers and red building, which is over 400 feet.

“Many of these guys are major league talent. There have been some who have been called up,” his dad added.

One player from Plattsburgh was recently drafted by the New York Yankees.

Haji said Ed Gonzalez formed the league a number of years ago. “They have their annual try-outs every May in Delaware.

“You're one step away from major league play, he told the Free Press. “It's very competitive!

He said the team will stay during the season in Tupper Lake, so housing will have to be found for them. “The mayor is already working on that!”

“They interact well with the kids and routinely sponsor clinics and other activities for them. Between innings the kids are invited to come out on the field and play fun games. It's all done very quickly.”

He said every game they raffle off a bat signed by the players of both teams, as a small fundraiser.

Earlier this year the village board voted to remove the two wooden bleacher sections that flank the main grandstand. The one side will be replaced by a metal set. On the other side a platform will replace the section to accommodate handicapped fans and for lawn chair seating.

The two dug outs which were filled with sand and covered with decking will be refurbished with new roofs added.

Trustee Maroun figures the semi-pro games will attract fans from across the area. “If you want to see the kinds of crowds these teams draw take a ride to Saranac Lake to see their 1p.m. games.” He and Carson had attended a game that afternoon and the stands were full.

“For over a month I bugged Mayor Rabideau to get us a team and finally he did!”

“Eddie told us money is not the issue. The issue is trying to get these kids to the majors!”

To accommodate the new league, the Woodsmen's Association will no longer be able to use the area in front of the grandstand or anywhere inside the ball diamond for its big July event. Village officials believe there is plenty of room in the outer section of the park to accommodate their event, and have promised to do whatever is needed to help the Woodsmen's Association move it there.

Marshall Godin, an avid sports fans here who is active in youth sports, said the arrival of the semi-pro team will be “awesome for kids.” He said the sport of baseball is growing here with the start of a Babe Ruth team here this summer and a Legion team within three years. “The kids can play right here along with them,” he said of the excellent field.

Teen leagues play on infields with the same dimensions as pro teams.

The local promoters hope that food and drink concessions may return to the park eventually and there could be renovations under the grandstand to accommodate locker rooms.

Rick Skiff, who like his buddies is very excited of semi-pro ball coming here, figures the new board may also have to have a net or screen erected on the top of the grandstand roof to capture errant foul balls headed out of the stadium.

Trustee Ron LaScala figures the economic gain from this league will be dramatic. “You are talking about major events in the park all through July and August.”

The consumption of beer and other alcoholic drinks may also be permitted, village board members have indicated in the past week.

For decades here the municipal park was one of three sites in town where the open container ordinance didn't apply. That was changed during the administration of former Police Chief Ron Cole.

“How cool would it be to invite a bar or brewery here to come down and sell their wares and perhaps sponsor that evening's game,” Mr. LaScala thought.

He said Haji has been dreaming about this since they joined the village board. “We all want to dream with him!”

Eddie Gonzalez was welcomed by the Tupper delegation with warmth and excitement Thursday.

“This is beautiful, guys...you ready to place some baseball in this place? the league president told them.

Mr. Gonzalez pointed to the view out across Raquette Pond with the setting sun as proof of the wonderful site.

He said this division could eventually be expanded to eight teams.

The league organizer said bringing in a new team like the River Pigs will cause some restructuring of the division and its schedule, but said he would like to retain the two separate divisions. “But we can do this!”

Of the local baseball supporters he met at the baseball field that night, he said he felt like they were his “brothers.”

“Thank you guys for joining in and becoming part of our baseball family!”

Eddie said from the time he was a young child he knew he'd find a career in baseball. “I'm going to stay on a ball field until I die... there's no other way out of it for me!”

“Baseball was an outlet for my father when we were kids, keeping us away from bad places and dark paths.”

He said as a young man he played minor league professional baseball as a catcher and almost made The Bigs. “My partner and friend, Matt Joyce, made it and my brother played for the Angels. Together we all have a love for baseball and don't know much else.”

“My dream was major league baseball. I eventually realized that may not happen, but I knew I had to stay in this game.”

At that point he was looking at all the things he could do in the sport, and particularly coaching.

“One day I was riding in the car and I had this vision. I figured if no one was going to hire me, then I'm going to have to do this myself.”

He said he thought about forming a team, but then wondered how he was going to that. “A voice told me a short time later, it was going to be an entire league.

“All of sudden we were doing national and international showcases and camps to seek talent and to try to help them get to the pros. We started getting 200 and 300 players attending our camps and we started helping so many guys get to pro ball.”

He said he found many “hungry kids” trying to get to the pros and he found a way to help them through the league.

He said the Empire League gives its players more time to develop and grow, to help increase their chance to eventually make the pros. “This way they don't get cut, sent home and told they're no good. Instead they get a lot of positive feedback.”

He said that's how the Empire League was born. “It was all about hearing yes.”

The overall mission of the league and his personal goals are to help young players find success in the sport.

Eddie said one of his success stories was finding a way for an autistic player to make the pros.

He said that was one of his crowning moments to give a kid like that a big yes, when all he was getting from big corporations and organized baseball were no's. The player was signed right out of Plattsburgh.

Asked if he thought he was about to become a part of changing the face of summers in Tupper Lake, he said he didn't know. “All I want is to be a part of the smile of that face!”

Crossroads Hotel plans detailed; $150,000 needed to move it to finish line

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The two women who plan to “create a new vision for Park Street” with the construction of their Crossroads Hotel on vacant lots across from the Free Press office shared their dream with about 40 or so interested residents Tuesday at the Aaron Maddox Hall on Main Street.

Partners Betsy Lowe, co-founder of the Wild Center, and Nancy Howard, former co-owner of the Wawbeek Resort on Upper Saranac Lake, were accompanied by their building and design team that afternoon.

Things are in high gear on the project but a sum of $150,000 is needed to bring it to what one developer called the finish line.

Betsy took the audience back nearly 20 years ago when she and Nancy and Jon Kopp and many others here were all working on the Wild Center and were looking at locations for it around the community. She said although the former 330 Lodge and DiStefano Liquor Store properties really caught their attention as they were situated right at “the crossroads of the Adirondacks” they knew it was “way too small” a site for what was planned.

She said they knew it had strong value and so she and her partners later bought the 330 Lodge site at auction. They later purchased the liquor store parcel from the state Department of Transportation at the time it was widening the corner and had to raze the building. The DiStefano family's apartment building was later purchased from Mary DiStefano's sons.

The 330 Lodge site has been used for community parking since then with the owners' permission.

Nancy Howard said when the property acquisition took place she was president of the chamber of commerce and many community leaders at that time were looking ahead to what they wanted Tupper Lake to become with respect to a tourist destination. “We were thinking a lot in those days about the Tupper Lake community, those who comprise it and those who kept it ticking!”

She said she and her husband Norman over the years had employed over 100 Tupper Lake people at their Wawbeek Resort and found that their workers and the people of Tupper Lake, in general, possessed two important qualities: a natural friendliness, which was confirmed by their guests many times, and a strong work ethic.

Time and time again they were impressed with stories of employees coming in early or staying late to take care of important issues at their Wawbeek, without being asked. “Money cannot buy these traits so precious in the hospitality business!”

She said Tupper Lake is currently served with “an overnight hospitality” industry. Those lodging businesses are the reason, she said, that many community events like the Tin Man Triathlon and the Woodsmen's Days are so successful year after year.

In Tupper Lake's early years there were many large hotels which are now gone, she lamented.

“So I think you'll all agree that the time is nigh for a full-service hotel!”

She showed the crowd a postcard of the uptown business district from Jon Kopp's collection that was enlarged to poster size.

It showed that no matter which way passersby approach the site it is very visible at the Route 3 and 30 intersection, she said, holding up the poster. The site also boasts some magnificent sunsets across Raquette Pond, she added.

Betsy introduced Jacob Wright, president of Skyward Hospitality, a hotel management company, who brought along with him several of his colleagues, Andrew Milne, his chief operating officer, Tim Barnhart, chief investment officer, all of whom have been in the hotel business for many years.

Skyward Hospitality has been hired to develop the hotel project.

“Our company...our partners...the people we work with have completed over 500 hotels...mostly larger projects over $100 million.”

He said they are currently involved with the large $27 million hotel complex underway on the shores of Lake Flower in Saranac Lake, which will be about twice the size of the proposed Tupper Hotel. “Over there we've been through the hurdles of the APA” and the various entitlements, design, etc.

“Together we have a decent amount of experience getting through the process to put a hotel in the ground in this marketplace!

“One thing I wanted to clarify, because I think there are misconceptions about New York State and other things, is the timeline. Betsy and Nancy have had the property since 1999. It's a gem and has been a sparkle in their eyes for quite a long time.”

He said the project actually “started when they were awarded the grant from New York State through the North Country Economic Development Council in August, 2017. “So it's really only been 23 months.”

“During that time they have configured the land. They bought a house (on Lake St.) recently”...and the DOT was finishing up its work on the uptown redevelopment as late as 2017.

He reminded the audience that development take a long time. “If you live in Tupper Lake, you have a good how long they take,” referring to the 16 plus year process so far with the Adirondack Club and Resort.

Mr. Wright said the Hotel Saranac project in Saranac Lake took almost five years and their project on the lake “took four and one half years to get in the ground.”

He said everyone now, including New York State officials, now realize that developments in the Adirondack Park take more than two years.

Mr. Wright said the partners have “got a lot together” in the two years since 2017 when they were awarded the $2 million dollar grant on a project estimated at that time of over $10 million.

“Some have said the project has lagged, but if you really look at the time from when they could really start (in 2017)...it hasn't been a long period of time: 23 months.”

He said he and his associates have been working with Nancy and Betsy for about a year- refining the business plan and the size of the hotel, among other things.

There have been two major studies and market plans completed by noted firms that were commissioned by the partners, he said. Much of that information was used in Skyward Hospitality's work.

“What we wanted to do is figure out what's the right size for this marketplace and what will work financially, and what we came up with is 45 rooms.”

“In the busy time you need enough rooms to make your hay...to make enough money!”

If they had proposed a 70-room facility, the cost of building would have exceeded over $15 million plus, he told the audience. They new hotel in Saranac Lake will provide over 90 rooms and the cost is over $25 million, according to the developer.

He said the higher costs make it more difficult to finance in Tupper Lake, and not because Tupper has any issues, but because compared with Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, “the market (for rooms) has a little room to grow” in terms of a hospitality anchor.

He said Nancy's and Betsy's vision has always been: “let's put this right-sized hotel on the main corridor” that may be a catalyst or
“a cornerstone” for other growth here. “Frankly this is very realistic!”

He said his firm spent a lot of time with the partners to put together a financial and debt package that is very realistic.

Mr. Wright said in the interest of full transparency, the partners are not going to “knock it out of the park” and make millions of dollars in profits. “This truly a project for the community!”

“You can see that in the numbers and the investors have really taken that to mind!”

He added everyone involved is just interested in making reasonable returns on their investments.

Andrew Milne said the proximity to their project in Saranac Lake where over 70 people will be employed as early as this fall will be helpful for training of new employees when the Crossroads Hotel opens here.

Jacob Wright said the great thing about their company is that it is based here and “is growing its offices” in nearby Lake Placid. “But we also have nationwide expertise!”

Tim Barnhart, the firm's chief investment officer who recently relocated to the area with his family from Hawaii, said for the past ten years he has worked on large hotel projects all over the U.S. and Mexico.

“This is a somewhat different deal for us working on something somewhat smaller.”

The size of the property has been the reason for its 45-room size, he told the audience.

“We didn't want something too big for this parcel but big enough to be profitable.”

He called the proposed hotel “Goldilocks-sized” for the property.

“From our performance perspective- how we expect the hotel to perform financially and the daily rates we can charge, we have been conservative. It's not about making millions for Nancy and Betsy. It's about serving the community and being a real asset.”

“We really look for places that are very unique in America and around the world and we look for projects that need help and that can really help their communities,” he said of his firm's goals.

“I always tell the story...Betsy called about five years ago and told me she has this property in Tupper Lake where she would like to build a hotel. She asked me: 'Andy, am I crazy?'”

“I told her if it was anyone else but Betsy, I would have to say: yes.”

“To someone who built the Wild Center, you can't really say no to.”

The audience laughed.

“If she called me again today, I would certainly tell her it wasn't a crazy idea.” He said tourism has dramatically changed in the last ten years.

Tourism today is enjoying an “amazing synergy of new tourism,” not of projects being built but people wanting to get in their cars and drive someplace that is not like their place...where they can be near some downtown and walk to it. That's why this project is perfect!”

“The beauty of this project is that it's not a hotel to make money...it's a downtown revitalization project...to create a synergy downtown to help all businesses there,” said Mr. Barnhart.

“You already have a character in your downtown which is already being brushed up,” he said, noting the new hotel will add more to the brushing work.

He said the hotel coming to Park St. is coming at a time when New York State is investing heavily in tourism.

He added that all generations now are looking for short vacations in their states and their sections of the country.

Mr. Barnhart said a 40- to 45-room hotel, with a great restaurant that is good for both locals and visitors, “will be a gem...and that's sort of the design we've come up with!”

He said of the five hotel projects his firm is working on right now- three in the park and two downstate- “none are more well positioned than this one...right place for the right project.”

“It's going to be beautiful when it's built and going to be a great anchor for you downtown.”

Jacob Wright came back to the microphone to wrap up the presentation.

“Many may be questioning: how real is this project?”

“The land has been acquired. It's a great site plan involving six properties.”

Mr. Wright said many developers applying for state or federal grants don't own the properties...they have only options on them.

“Betsy and Nancy own the land. They have the state grant. The feasibility studies are complete.” They are also working with a leading Syracuse legal firm.

He said they also have a solid plan to raise capital for their project and the staff to do it. There have also been “preliminary meetings” with local land use and zoning officials, he added.

Mr. Wright said the project is situated in the hamlet, a good thing with respect to APA oversight, and the parcels are currently zoned for hotel development.

“They are literally one step away from the finish line,” he said of the partners' progress.

The final step, he explained, is financial help from “angels” and local partners to prepare togo before local permitting agencies.

To a question about access to the site from Cole Taylor, who recently restored the former Woods residence on the corner of Lake and Mill, Betsy Lowe said the reason they acquired a house on Lake Street was to provide a second entrance way into the new hotel.

Asked about the importance of the reopening of the Big Tupper Ski Center, Ms. Lowe said that while it would be most welcome to their project, the studies they commissioned gave the project the green light even if that didn't happen anytime soon.

A person who said he was a consultant to the Wild Center figured the new Crossroads Hotel and the venues here in Tupper Lake will make it very desirable for destination weddings. “I prayed for something like this coming to Tupper!” He said he had been married here 20 years ago and was thankful Nancy Howard was still in business at that time to host their special day.

Betsy told the group the site had a special memory for her. Years ago when she was commuting between her camp in Long Lake and her job at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation in Ray Brook she discovered she had a flat tire when she stopped at Mary DiStefano's to buy a bottle of wine on the way home. She said not only did Mary try to get someone to fix her tire, she directed traffic around her stranded car. Later when the tire was fixed, one of Mary's customers offered to follow her home.

Questioned by someone in the audience how much money they needed to get started, Jacob Wright said that was one of the reasons for that day's meeting. “To do the pre-development it's going to cost $300,000. Betsy and Nancy have raised a substantial amount of money to date. To really kick it off will require $150,000. -And frankly, and to be direct, if it doesn't happen in the next 45 days there's a real danger the project will not happen, mainly due to deadlines with New York State.

He said the purpose of the meeting was to let the community know the project “is very doable...but there's a very real chance it doesn't happen.

Both Betsy and Nancy said they welcome any and all investments and thanked the 40 or so that afternoon for coming to hear about their plans. Nancy can be reached at 518 962-2227 and Betsy at 518 523-9480.

Public gets second look at zoning update process

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

A repeat version of the information session in May on the proposed revised zoning ordinance and land use plan this past Thursday morning at the Tupper Lake town hall generated a number of questions from some of the 20 or so residents who attended.

The event, organized by local code enforcement officials Paul O'Leary and Pete Edwards, was intended to give summer residents a chance to peruse the 145-page document and ask their questions.

The new proposal resulted from a more than year long study by code officials here, a group of local citizens and a downstate consulting firm, Randall and West.

Stuart Amell, who said that he and his wife Laurie own property in both the town and village, asked about the public advisory committee (PAC) that helped guide the rewrite of the 1990-vintage zoning plan.

Paul O'Leary said there were 13 members, including himself and Mr. Edwards.

Asked by the retired superintendent of schools from Syracuse if they were appointed by the town and village boards, Mr. O'Leary said they were “selected.”

“There was never a resolution appointing them as a public body by the town and village boards” to represent the town, the village and the community of Tupper Lake?” Mr. Amell asked and he was told he was correct.

“If they are not a public body, were there agendas and minutes of their meetings, and if so are they available for the public to review?” continued the River Road lot owner.

Mr. O'Leary said there were neither agendas published nor minutes kept.

“So how do we know what the PAC discussed?” Mr. Amell pressed. “How do we know about how those people felt” in their work producing the draft document?

He said he would have preferred to see how those members felt about specific changes proposed in the draft ordinance. “I think that's important!”

Mr. O'Leary admitted he didn't have an answer for him.

“So you mentioned no agendas and no minutes. So there's no way any of us in this room can go back and see what was discussed?” he continued to press Mr. O'Leary, who is also town assessor.

Mr. Amell also asked about the attendance of the committee members this past year and Mr. O'Leary called it “sporadic.”

Asked to expand on his term, Mr. O'Leary said there were some committee members who attended every meeting and there were some who could not attend them all.

“Were you satisfied with the attendance?” Mr. Amell asked, and Mr. O'Leary said he was, given that it was a committee of volunteers.

He said he was warned by the consultants that they would not get 100% attendance by the volunteers at every meeting. “They were all volunteers, after all!”

Mr. Amell said he has served on many committees during his career in education and in the communities where he has lived, “and when I volunteer to serve on a committee, I do my best to get there.”

The seasonal resident asked if there have been any meeting by the PAC since the first public information session on May 16.

Mr. O'Leary said a meeting was called but only two members attended in addition to he and Mr. Edwards: town councilman John Quinn and planning board chairman Shawn Stuart.

Mr. Amell asked if there had been any decisions made that meeting and was told there wasn't.

He asked about proposals made and Mr. O'Leary said there was one addressing the adjusting the proposed village center “to accommodate some properties on Oak Street. He said there was also talk about “adjusting some zoning boundaries to accommodate Paul Mitchell's operation off Main Street.”

Mr. Amell then asked: “Anything about camper trailers or recreational vehicles?”

Mr. O'Leary said the two members thought the wording should be left “as is” in the draft advanced.

Joel Soucy asked him to explain.

Mr. O'Leary said it was not the purpose of that morning's session to “go through every article” in the draft ordinance.

He then proceeded to take the audience of about 30 people through the steps that were followed in creating the new draft plan.

Of the steps taken so far, he said, they are currently at step three which at some point soon the PAC will “hand over” the draft document to the town and village boards for their consideration.

“The boards will review it and set public meeting” or meetings.

The process ahead also includes the completion of a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) by law, he explained.

“-And at some point it may be reviewed and accepted!”

Representatives from both boards have said publicly in past months that the upcoming review of the new document will be both thorough and lengthy.

Mr. O'Leary said the start of the work began over a year ago when the consultants took at look at many community planning documents produced in past years like the community's Smart Growth and revitalization plans, as well as others, produced over time here.

“A land use code protects private property owners plus advances public interest,” he said of the purpose of any existing or new law. “It manages development expectations and results in a community vision of building businesses, residences and appropriate development,” including an adherence to the laws of the Adirondack Park Agency and the state housing codes.

Prior to starting the study too the contractors surveyed the community and the condition of its buildings, giving weight to historic areas, Mr. O'Leary told the crowd.

Some of the specific historic buildings were listed in his presentation.

He said specific desires in the changing of local zoning regulations were spelled out to the consultants by the PAC members in a series of meetings this past year.

There were three drafts prepared by the consultants in the course of their work that the PAC members reviewed, he told the audience.

One of his slides showed how zoning can influence the appearance of a typical chain store in a community. It used Dollar General as an example and showed how the use of reasonable zoning laws can take a garish appearance and produce one with tasteful architectural and site designs, for an overall better appearance.

He also showed a slide where the placement of buildings would be in the lots of the various zoning categories, with set-backs, widths and such clearly detailed. “It shows lot owners and builders exactly what they can do on their properties!”

He said it helps people prepare for their site plan reviews when they come before the planning board for permission.

He said subdivision regulations haven't been changed much in the new draft law.

Mr. O'Leary said the “relief” from some of these rules will continue to be found at the zoning board of appeals which is empowered to grant variances from zoning regulations.

One of the changes in the proposal was conforming lot sizes and building set backs in historical areas of the community “to match the historical character” of the neighborhood.

He gave as one example the Park St. business district where there are building set backs in the current law which don't exist, as most buildings abut the sidewalk. Without the changes, if a building was torn down and a new one was built to replace it, it would have to be set back and would look out of place. “So we changed the laws to allow a new building to be aligned with the existing ones.”

Also removed from the existing law were some “nuisance commercial uses” in residential neighborhoods.

“Architectural overlays were added for the uptown and downtown business districts to prevent demolition and insensitive changes.”

He also said the new plan added more graphics for building placements on lots and for sign regulations.

Mr. O'Leary said there were few changes to the community's overall zoning map, which shows which uses are permitted and where by zone, ie: residential, commercial, industrial, etc.

He noted that the existing code possesses some “very archaic parking parameters and we adjusted those.”

Future adjustments to the local zoning law will be able to be made “much easier” in the proposal advanced, he told the interested taxpayers. The law will also be available in electronic form from now on.

He touched on one hot button topic in the proposed law, an issue very important to Mr. Amell, who maintains a recreational trailer on his River Road lot where buildings are not permited.

“The current law use code,” according to Mr. O'Leary, allows that tents and trailers cannot occupy a site in a campground for more than 120 days a year. “That's it,” regarding those.

The new code allows the same thing in campgrounds but adds a 14-day limit without a permit outside a campground. Thirty-day and additional 90-day permits will be available from the town and village clerks. Also added is that they must have water and waste water systems on site, he explained.

The sign section of the code has been “totally revamped” with some large, tall neon ones outlawed.

The only use change in the proposed law is for heavy industrial ones near or next to residential neighborhoods, he stated.

Mr. O'Leary said the intent of the morning's session was to give seasonal residents an opportunity to review and discuss any of the proposed changes. Several of those people were attendance.

Stuart Amell asked how the proposed changes for recreational vehicles on local lots effect residents who store their units at their residences.

Mr. O'Leary said that so far neither the town or village attorneys have dissected the proposed document. “The two boards aren't going to act until their respective attorneys review it.”

He said the views of the two attorneys is going to weigh heavily on how to “best approach” this portion of the proposed code.

“I can see how there could be some real confusion here,” Mr. Amell told him.

“I ride around town and see many campers beside houses, which I'm fine with.” He said many are hooked up to electricity and water and people are staying in them.” Most times guests stay there when visiting.

He said he wondered how it affects people in his situation who keep recreational vehicles on their private lots on River Road and other areas” where buildings can't be built.

He said he hoped those different situations were kept clear and separate in any new code adopted.

What constitutes a travel trailer or recreational vehicle and a campground are defined in the draft, Mr. O'Leary told one summer resident.

The digital version of the proposal can be obtained by e-mailing him or Mr. Edwards, he said.

In response to another question from Joel Soucy about the 120- day limit for recreational vehicles, the town official said that was a stipulation for a campground setting in the existing code.

Mr. O'Leary said the code does not address the storage of an unoccupied recreational vehicle on private property.

“That may be something that needs to be clarified in the future,” he felt. “That's where the consultation with the two attorney may come into play.”

Mr. Amell said that the issuance of yearly permit for recreational trailers was a more reasonable approach and would eliminate a lot of time and paperwork for the town and village staff members if the 30-day and 90-day permits became law.

“There's a lot of campers in this area.”

Mr. O'Leary said there are growing number of recreational vehicles in this town and any final law should help accommodate those owners.

River Road resident Larry Reandeau said he believes the recreational trailer law change could make Tupper Lake into “a gated community.”

He said years ago he was looking to buy a house in a gated community and when he learned you couldn't park a recreational vehicle on your lot, he didn't buy the house.

“Tupper Lake is not a gated community. I have a permit to park my trailer on my lot. It's called my taxes!”

He proposed that provision in the proposal be scrapped. “I don't see a lot of trailers beside houses in the community...I don't see the mess!

Mr. O'Leary told Mr. Reandeau to address his concerns with town and village officials who will ultimately accept, change or reject this proposal.

“I'm listening,” noted Councilman John Quinn.

Trustee Clint Hollingsworth, who was also in attendance and who regretted that he was unable to serve on the PAC, given his business and personal time constraints, said it will be up to both boards to thoroughly dissect this plan before any decisions are made. “We are going to be moving very slow on this” after public hearings and after thorough study.

The planning board on its own cannot adopt this into law, he told the audience.

Peter Edwards said in all the PAC discussions there was no mention of preventing private property owners from storing their recreational vehicles on their properties.

He said that was a big, unfounded rumor going through town that week.

“So when you're done with your camper for the season, park it on your private lot.”

Mr. Reandeau and Mr. Hollingsworth both said they felt preventing recreational vehicles from being stored on people lots was implied in the wording of that article of the proposed code.

“It was not the case, not ever the case,” Mr. O'Leary said echoing Mr. Edwards' comments.

Mr. Quinn promised that clarification of that issue will be contained in any forthcoming legal review before the final drafts are examined by the two boards.

A resident asked if family or friends will be permitted to stay in a recreational vehicle next to his house during a visit here and Mr. O'Leary said they could. If the stay was longer than 14 days, however, the homeowner would have to secure a 30- day or 90-day extension.

“-And there may not even be a fee for those permits,” Mr. Edwards speculated.

Mr. O'Leary said there is no wording in the draft plan that calls for a fee for those extensions.

Mr. Amell asked if written comments have been submitted to the PAC or to the code enforcement officers since the May 16 meeting. Mr. O'Leary and Mr. Edwards said they have not received any.

He wondered about any discussion by the PAC of grandfathering existing people who currently have recreational vehicles from any changes in a new ordinance.

Mr. O'Leary said he thought some grandfathering of issues had been discussed at one point in the meetings.

Mr. Amell said he learned from a town official that if a person is grandfathered in from a new law “we're all going to be very happy.” However, he said, there is a punishment.

The punishment, he said, was campers could never be upgraded and if the property was sold the new owner could never place another recreational vehicle there.

Mr. O'Leary said grandfathering was discussed, but only discussed, with no action taken to include it in the final version.

Mr. Amell said if it does become law, his lot on River Road loses all its value, “because if I sell it or hand it over to my kids” the new owners can never upgrade the campers.

“Or if in ten years it's rotten and full of mold, I have to get rid of it but never be able to place another camper there.”

“Is that what the discussion was? Why would you even discuss something like that?” Mr. Amell pressed Mr. O'Leary, who said all the discussion amounted to was about the grandfathering question. That's what committee (members) and meetings do!”

Mr. O'Leary said all it amounted to was “brainstorming.”

“So if a tree falls on my camper, I can't get another one?” Mr. Amell asked him.

“It was just a discussion,” the code officer assured him.

“This is what concerns me, Paul. I didn't hear any of that on May 16. I went there with an open mind and I was hoping it was going to be fair for all of us,” Mr. Amell continued. Since the, however, he has heard many troubling things from elected leaders here.

“Discussing something and making it law are two separate things,” Councilman Quinn told Mr. Amell.

“I understand that,” Mr. Amell responded, adding that to even discuss something that could result in the devaluation of his property really concerns him as a taxpayer. He said the mere discussion of such a provision “really disappoints” him.

Larry Reandeau strongly suggested to the planners that a single line be removed from the start of article No. 3. The line is: “in each zone, all uses are prohibited, unless specifically permitted.”

“What you are doing is writing a law that stipulates” that all future uses- things we may not even know about- are prohibited.

“When our founders wrote the Constitution of the United States, they didn't envision air planes and electricity and other things, including the new technologies, but they made a document to protect the people of this nation forever.”

“But you're about to write a zoning law that prohibits all uses unless it's in the document...you don't even know what things may happen in the future and what someone may want to do with their house” with new inventions. “That's got to come out of there!”

Pete Edwards said the line is contained in the current zoning law.

He said it was intended to prevent someone from putting a use in a zoning area it doesn't belong.

Mr. Reandeau said the line is subject to large interpretation and could be easily twisted by any attorney. “It needs to come out!”

Any questions or concerns should be addressed to the town and village boards “because they are the people who will ultimately strike things out or add other provisions,” according to Mr. O'Leary. “The PAC is done at this point. It is handing the proposal over to the two boards.”

Rock the Arc back on!

Dan McClelland

There's good news for music lovers and for people who like to take a chance from Adirondack Arc CEO Scott Stiles this week. The Rock the Arc event is back on and set for Saturday, September 14.

The event has been a fixture in the municipal park each August for the past half dozen years and has highlighted great food, lots of fun for kids and four or five live bands. It has raised thousands of dollars to help the folks under Adirondack Arc's care.

Arc leaders had planned to take a year off this summer, but many of the supporters, sponsors and participants were disappointed. Mr. Stiles, who is both CEO and CFO these days at the 300-employee plus service organization, said their enthusiasm won him over.

One highlight of the annual event is the big drawing, where $100 entitles ticket-holders a chance to win thousands of dollars in prizes. Tickets are available from any agency employee.

The brave beat the heat at Saturday’s Warrior Run

Dan McClelland

by Ian Roantree

They ran up hills and down them, over fence gates and under fences. They marched through muddy trenches and uneven terrain, crawling through tubes and tires and scaled walls, some tall, others not. But despite all of the physical obstacles that came before each racer in the Warrior Run, it was the heat that put the body and minds of those runners to the test.

In all, 123 runners registered to participate in the Chamber of Commerce’s Warrior Run on Saturday, July 20, but not all 123 ran. Saturday’s heat, it would seem, had separated the boys from men, the girls from women, and the brave from the yielding when that number dropped down to 111.

This year saw the return of the Tupper Lake Warrior Run which failed to take legs last year.

“I was a little worried,” said the race’s event coordinator, Krit LaMere. “Because the Chamber didn't do the race last year I wasn't sure if we would get everyone back but I saw a lot faces I have seen in past races.”

At noon sharp the first wave of runners took off and every five minutes after another group followed. As they pushed through each obstacle, hurdle, hardship and hitch, those racers had one thing on their minds: a cold Raquette River brew that awaited them at the finish line, possibly far more appealing than the cold showers that were temporarily installed for the soon-to-be mud-covered, sweat-drenched racers.

But not every racer could dream of a cold glass of beer as they pushed through the course. Some of those warriors weren’t old enough to drink yet. “We had about a dozen kids run it this year which was really cool,” Ms. Lamere said. “We liked getting the kids interested. It brought a bunch of families able to do it together.”

Unlike in previous years, the race started and finished at Raquette River Brewing instead of up atop Big Tupper which brought the race onto the Bencze property in behind the Balsam street brewery.

For months, Doug and Sarah Bencze and their two boys, Willie and Charlie prepared for the Warrior Run, turning their expansive property into a diverse race course, exploiting its wide and open meadows to deploy man-made obstacles and the nooks and crannies for the natural ones. Without the Bencze family and their beautiful lands, this race wouldn’t have been possible.

The Bencze patriarch, Doug, ran his 5K course in 0:40:22, placing eighth overall.

“I heard from many of them that they had a great time, they really enjoyed the course and they will be back next year. A few mentioned that the course was tougher than last time which was nice because that's what we were going for.”

In the 5K race, the men’s leaders were Randy Beckwith, finishing in 0:26:59, Peter Morehouse with 0:30:37, and Rich Edwards, finishing in 0:35:42. Female leaders of the 5K were Tupper Lakers Jessica Fortune, finishing in 0:39:22, and Maureen Shaheen with 0:42:15. The third best female finisher in the 5K was Kayla Huey with a time of 0:41:15.

For the 8K race, also known as the Adventure Run, the men’s leaders were Garth Brennan, with 0:46:49, Jason Grammo with 0:49:14 and David Martin 0:55:57.

The women’s leaders were Sarah Grammo with 0:54:14, Virginia Ammons with 0:55:00. and Danielle Spencer with a time of 1:02:01.

Great thanks go out to Mark and Joe of Raquette River Brewing for allowing their establishment be taken over for the day and for their accommodating spirits. Special thanks go out to all of the sponsors too, who have continued their support year after year. They are W&B Golf Carts, Northern Diesel, Bencze Tree Service, Mitchell Stone and Products, Usher Farms, Shaheens Market, Belleville and Associates, Hyde Fuel, Twin D Auto, the Town of Tupper Lake Highway Department, T.S. LaMere Construction, Taylor Rental, Spruce and Hemlock and Northwood Cabins.

And of course, the day wouldn’t have gone as smooth as it did had all of the helpful volunteers not come out to endure the heat and deer flies. Many thanks go out to Paige Dukett, Cathy Shaheen, Rod Boushie, Liam Price, Gabe Burns, Tyler Shore, boB Collier, Reynald Grammo, Tom Gilman, Dorrie Gilman, Tom Sciacca, Bill Hutt, Aaron Price, Amy LaLonde, Emily Burns, Charlotte Price, Shane Jesse, Tim Frey, Miles Thibodeau, Crystal Boucher, Paul O’Leary, Adam Baldwin, Margaret O‘Leary, Brittany La Barge, Kelsey Summer and Brian Burns.

Where dark skies meet your eyes: Adirondack Sky Fest this weekend

Dan McClelland

by Ian Roantree

In its vastness and beauty, much like the cosmos, the Adirondacks provides some of the darkest skies on this side of the Mississippi River. Our small communities, rolling mountains and immense forests offers us a nearly untapped wilderness in our backyards and our dark skies put us in a front-row seat to view another wilderness; the one above.

Those Adirondack dark skies and the mysteries and magnificence of the wilderness above are being celebrated at the first annual Adirondack Sky Festival on Sunday, July 21. Hosted by the Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory (ASCO), still known to some as its former name, the Adirondack Public Observatory.

In partnership with the Tupper Lake community the Wild Center, Tupper Arts, I Love NY and Stewart’s Shops, this festival will take the astro-curious, sky enthusiasts, amateur and professional astronomers throughout Tupper Lake to its variety of events.

From the Wild Center’s Flammer Theater and the Tupper Lake High School, to the observatory at 178 Big Wolf Road, these events will embark you on a trip of wonder, learning and awe from the early afternoon into the night when those dark skies reveal themselves..

Star gazing will start at 1 p.m. in broad daylight at the ASCO when officials roll back the observatory roof to begin the activities planned.

With specialized telescopes, guests will get a different view of our closest star than we might be used to—through squinted eyes or with hand over brow (for the sake of your sight don’t look with your naked eye balls!). The ASCO’s powerful solar telescopes will safely reveal up-close views of the sun spots and solar flares that are being cooked up roughly 93 million miles away.

Through to 5 p.m., the ASCO will also be the site of many hands-on activities including telescope demonstrations, binocular training, crafts and a scavenger hunt.

Meanwhile, at 25 Chaney Road, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., the high school gymnasium will be set up not for the viewing of Tupper Lake varsity sports stars but instead the viewing of the stars of our night sky through the planetarium shows led by experimental projection artist and filmmaker, Bruce McClure. In a Sky Lab inflatable planetarium, standing 12 feet tall and rigged with a cosmic projector McClure will bring an engaging and immersive experience to anyone who enters this jet-black igloo-like dome.

Other early-afternoon events include The International Dark Sky Association’s 1:30 p.m. lecture, Light Pollution and Impacts on Wildlife in the Wild Center’s Flammer Theater, presented by Andy Anderson.

At 3:30 p.m., at the Flammer Theater, former NASA optical designer, Al Nagler presents: Helping Apollo 11 Astronauts Get to the Moon: Work on Simulators.

And finally at the Wild Center, Gib Brown, former meteorologist at WPTZ and college professor is presenting Science on a Sphere.

At 7:30 p.m., in the high school auditorium, Jeff Miller and David Fadden present Star Stories of the Haudenosaunee, Greek and Roman Traditions.

The constellations we see in our night skies today, like the zodiac constellations and Ursa Major and Minor (the dippers), are rooted in Greek and Roman mythologies. “Every culture from the beginning of time has their own set of constellations,” said ASCO vice-president, Seth McGowan. “We’re very Greco-Roman oriented but the truth is, the Native Americans have their own traditions, legends and views of the night sky.”

From 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., at the Flander’s Park bandshell, local cover-band, Night School with take you into the night with pop and rock hits best to be enjoyed under a star-filled sky.

After the music, everyone is invited back to the ASCO to continue the stargazing, either on your back with just your eyes, or with the many professional telescopes the observatory has to offer.

“This is a big event,” said Seth McGowan. Our purpose is to continue our education and programming. That’s what the day is all about.”

Half pipes, other pieces moved temporarily in park

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

The main pieces of the Matthew Wilson Memorial Skatepark were moved into the village park tennis court complex in recent weeks on a temporary basis by the village electric and department of public works crews.

The skateboard park was created about 15 years ago by a committee spearheaded by then Mayor Mickey Desmarais and Dan McClelland and nearly $25,000 was raised to buy equipment for a large asphalt pad the village paved adjacent to the recently rebuilt restroom building.

In order for the Tupper Lake Youth Baseball and Softball Association and the Rotary Club to build the new Little League-sized field that was dedicated Saturday (see related story this week), the skateboard park pieces were moved last summer to behind the restroom building.

Village officials last year exacted a promise from project organizers that they would help re-situate the skateboard park once the baseball field was done.

On the day of the move the village crews used a large boomed vehicle to lift the half-pipes over the eight foot high fence and onto one side of the twin-courts. Trustees Ron LaScala and Clint Hollingsworth were there supervising the operation.

The two trustees are currently looking at how and where the new skateboard will be built.

Pointing to the area behind the restrooms and beside the park's basketball courts, Mr. Hollingsworth said any new pad for the skaters should be “roughly 60 feet by 90 feet.”

He said it will likely be bigger than the size of the single tennis court where the half-pipes were placed that morning.

Trustee LaScala discussed that morning a little of the village board's collective thinking with respect to the skatepark.

“Haji (Trustee David Maroun), Clint and I came down here a few days ago to try to figure out how we were going to replace it.”

Initially selected was the grassy area beside the basketball courts. “We want to get the kids off Park Street and off the high school grounds. They like to skate at night...and with the lights right here, it satisfies them!”

He said he has made it a point in recent weeks to stop and buttonhole young skaters for their ideas.

“We don't have a lot of tennis players here right now,” he said, explaining the decision to temporarily use the space for the skaters.

He said he would actually like to see the park situated permanently on the tennis complex, with an eye to building new courts somewhere else the park.

For now, however, a fence could be erected to separate the one court from the other one, with the skaters using one court, he speculated.

That idea, he said, does enjoy the support of some of the members of the village board.

The surface of the two courts is now pitted and bumpy, which makes it fine for boarders, but not tennis play. Grass is growing in some cracks. The imperfections which currently exist there, “make it just like the street where many boarders like to ride now,” Mr. LaScala commented.

The side where the pieces were placed is the worst of the two sides, the trustee noted.

He said that even if the two courts are kept for tennis, a major resurfacing is needed soon.

The reason the trustee likes the tennis court area for the skaters is that it is clearly visible from Demars Blvd. should there be an accident or mischief.

“I would really like the board to consider taking this half for our new park as opposed to spending all that money building a new place over there,” he said pointing to the grassy undeveloped section.

“We could put our money into a new tennis court or courts, and kill two birds with one stone!”

“There are cheaper solutions to all our problems and this is one,” he said of his idea.

He and Mr. Hollingsworth admitted they have also been thinking about parking as these new althletic venues open in the park and the need for more of it.

The space currently envisioned for the new skate park might be better used for parking for all those parents who will be at the Little League field watching their children compete, Mr. LaScala thought.

Both leaders figured too some of the village's current waterfront revitalization grant monies could be used to resurface the one tennis court and erect a fence between the two spaces.

They said that if local pressure builds to add another tennis court that can be done in the future too.

“We need feedback,” encouraged Mr. Hollingsworth.

They gave their colleague, David Maroun, credit for the idea of moving the skatepark inside the tennis courts for now, if not forever.

Mr. Hollingsworth added the one side of the tennis court area has plenty of room for more pieces of equipment.

New youth baseball field opened Saturday

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

As the eleven and twelve year olds on Tupper Lake's Little League team anxiously peered out though the fence onto their new diamond in the municipal park awaiting the start of play, the leaders of the Tupper Lake Youth Softball and Baseball Association welcomed the crowd of supporters and local officials in preparation for the Saturday's ribbon-cutting.

Association president Dan Brown, welcoming the crowd of about 100 at 9a.m. that morning, explained that the new Little League-sized field adjacent to the Little Logger Playground comes on the heels of many great projects here this past decade.

He listed the Wild Walk, the adjacent playground, the Lions bandshell and various other community projects “but this one takes the cake as far as contributions from everyone in our community. We've had numerous fundraisers at Raquette River Brewing, several at Big Tupper Brewing, many contributions from local foundations and organizations- raising a sum of over $100,000. So it has been quite the effort by the community!”

He added Tupper Lake really came through for its kids.

He endeavored to list major contributors to the project which included the Tupper Lake Fire Department volunteers for their donation of $2,500, the two local breweries, the local VFW post for hosting the annual fundraising dinners which raised over $15,000 in total, the local Lions Club, the town board, Angie Snye, Supervisor Patti Littlefield, AS Services of Plattsburgh for the architectural plans and the work preparing for the Adirondack Park Agency permits, in conjunction with Village Clerk Mary Casagrain, Kentile Excavating, Skiff Construction, Mayor Paul Maroun and our village board, which he said was great working with their group on deciding on a final site for the athletic field.

The site search began on Washington St. park, moved to a place adjacent to the Palmer Gazebo to its final site next to the playground, Mr. Brown told the supporters and well-wishers.

He listed too the help of ROOST's Michelle Clement, village superintendents Mark Robillard and Marc Staves and their crews.

A loud shout out he gave to Bob DeGrace and the village department of public works crew, who included Mark Exware, Brian Kennedy, Glen Bencze and others “putting in extra hours” early mornings and evenings with village machinery.

Big financial support for our project, he said, came from the Adirondack Foundation with its gift of over $5,000, the ADK for Kids, Cloud Splitter Foundation, Shaheen's Supermarket, LeRoy's Auto, Spruce and Hemlock, Tupper Lake Supply and Rick Dattola, ARISE, Russ Cronin for his accounting help, Jeremiah Hayes and the Infant Jesus of Prague Fund and Ellen Maroun and the Aseel Legacy Fund.

Mr. Brown, high school athletic director, recognized some of his board members that morning: Maynard Peroza, “who from the start took every advantage he could to get the cause rolling, as our secretary and keeping us all on track,” Josh Trembley “working with our funds and making sure it was always where it should be and that we weren't bouncing checks,” Jed Dukett, who took “a lead on our irrigation system installed last year with Will Howard, Cory Kenniston “putting on a big final drive at the end getting the dirt on the field, building the mounds, getting the fencing up,” and Jay Skiff, “who from the start worked closely with Kentile Excavation” on all the site work and with Tupper Lake Supply on other details.

“Right from the start when we began working with the Rotary Club members about five years ago, they've been a great partner, with a lot of experience on other community projects and with their help the project came to fruition.”

Dan said for the board members one of the biggest thank yous is due their wives who suffered through their absences. “A lot of those times we were down here crawling in the dirt, leaving our homes early and coming back late.” He said when they said they be gone two hours the wives soon learned that would be actually four hours.

“There was a lot of time and sweat equity that went into this project!”

“To the kids of the community we want you to know this project is for you!” he told the youngsters gathered behind the backstop and side fencing. “-And it was a lot of fun for us to do!”

Also at the ceremony was a team from Saranac Lake waiting to play against Tupper Lake the first game on the new field.

To the local kids and young teens he said they wanted them to know that the community is behind them “and we do these things for you. You are the future of Tupper Lake!”

“Remember this is your field and take care of it!” he told them.

Dan also recognized Carol and Jeff Denit for their donation of $3,000 that will build the press box and to the local Knights of Columbus council for sharing many of the proceeds of its annual auction with the field-builders.

Board member Jay Skiff acknowledged the able leadership of Dan Brown. “He's been instrumental in this whole thing.” He said the project began with the two of them “leaning on a truck in the middle of a baseball game at the high school” talking about the need for a better playing field. “It was Dan's idea and here it is!”

As a delegation of project organizers and local leaders gathered in front of home plate for a ribbon-cutting, Tiny Jason Brown had the honor of helping his dad cut the red ribbon with giant scissors.. Charlie Skiff, Carter Kenniston and Lucas Dukett, three Little Leaguers, threw out the first ceremonial pitches following the ribbon-cutting.

Bandshell opens with large crowds and great acts

Dan McClelland