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News

Filtering by Category: News

Rock the Arc will rock the park this weekend

Dan McClelland

by Ian Roantree

The Tupper Lake Municipal Park will be a hub of activities for all ages this weekend on Saturday, September 14 with the return of the Adirondack Arc’s annual Rock the Arc festival.

All proceeds from the event go to benefit the Adirondack Arc, a not-for-profit organization that supports the needs of people with developmental disabilities.

Throughout the summer months, rumors began to circle the community, stating that Rock the Arc wasn’t happening this year. Those rumors were mostly true.

“This year we thought about taking a break,” said Scott Stiles, CEO of the Adirondack Arc and chief organizer of the event. “But when word got around, we got a lot of feedback and community support.”

Because the games, activities and admission to Rock the Arc are free, the Adirondack Arc relies on sponsorship support and raffle ticket sales to keep the event afloat and successful. This year, the organizers were having trouble finding sponsors.

“After doing this for six years in a row, it’s hard to keep asking for sponsorships from the same groups,” Stiles said.

But at the last minute, the Adirondack Arc was able to get its sponsorships.

Sponsors for this year’s Rock the Arc include Hoffman Auto, Ralph Benefit Advisors and Hoffman Hanafin & Associates.

Rock the Arc will attract the likes of both the young and old with its variety of activities, games, live music, food and attractions.

The main attraction of Rock the Arc is the raffle drawings and the chance to win the grand prize of $10,000!

The second place raffle winner will take home $2,000, the third place winner will take home $1,000, the fourth place winner will take home $500, and five finalists will be awarded $200!

The winners of the raffle will be announced at 7 p.m. on Saturday evening.

Other prizes can be won through the raffles including a Webber Grill, and gift packages.

Younger crowds will get a kick out of the activities geared towards them like the jousting arena, bounce house, inflatable obstacle course, face painting, and kid kingdom. There will also be games commonly found at carnivals like the fishing derby game, ring toss, plinko and dart and balloon games.

There will also be lots of different food and beverages to enjoy. Typical of a Tupper Lake event—and for good reason—the Lions Cook Shack will be on site serving up delicious hot dogs and hamburgers, smothered in their famous Lions onions.

There will be popcorn and ice cream vendors to satisfy the sweet and salty tastebuds as well as a Honduran food vendor, adding to the variety of food choices. P2’s Irish Pub, like previous years, will be serving up beer in their beer garden providing the choice of craft and light beer.

Throughout the day, starting at 1 p.m. and ending at 9 p.m., live music will rock the park (and the Arc). Kicking off at 1 p.m. is local classic and 90’s rock group, Bittersweet, playing until 3. From 3:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. is jam band, Atom Ghost from Massena, and headlining the evening, playing from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. is pop and rock group, Night School.

After the music, at 9 p.m., there will be a spectacular fireworks display, a show you won’t want to miss.

Door’s open at noon on Saturday, providing a full day’s worth of fun and entertainment, and it’s all free!

Oktupperfest returns this fall

Dan McClelland

by Ian Roantree

After a year’s hiatus, Tupper Lake’s beloved fall festival is returning, bringing the community together on shared love—beer, food, live music and fall foliage on October 5.

From a lack of event-coordinating personnel, the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Oktupperfest couldn’t come together last year but this year it’s coming back in full action.

“We’re trying to get something a little different going this year,” said lead organizer, Hayley McCottery, the former chamber event-coordinator who ran community events like the Brewski and the Phil Edwards Memorial Hockey Tournament. “It’s hard that we can’t be at the mountain, that’s what everyone knows about Oktupperfest.”

With support from the chamber of commerce, the festival is coming to fruition with the excitement and enthusiasm that the young events-coordinator brings to her projects. Although McCottery is no longer affiliated with the chamber, she’s returning to her old role temporarily to revive this event.

For over 30 years Oktupperfest was held atop Mt. Morris where the community informally celebrated the end of the short Adirondack summers, the beautiful red, orange and yellows of the changing season and the approaching winter where, back then, the community would go on to ski the slopes of Big Tupper months later.

The last Oktupperfest, in 2017, the event had to, regretfully, come down from the mountain for the first time. The event was held instead at the Tupper Lake Municipal Park due to the Adirondack Club’s developments that were underway on the mountain.

Despite the community’s unconditional support that year, the cold, rainy weather and overall environment at the park didn’t quite feel like an Oktupperfest that this community was used to. Something felt a little off.

A few locations were considered for this year’s event with the municipal park never making the cut.

Organizers considered Little Wolf Beach, Tupper Lake’s local vacation spot and the destination for the tri-annual Little Wolfstock, with its sandy beaches and its close-proximity to the downtown and the Adirondack Sky Center and Observatory, leaving opportunity for a diverse range of activities.

After further planning, Little Wolf Beach had to be ruled out. The beach’s water will be shut off at the end of the summer which would cause issues with attaining food permits required by the food vendors that will be on site at the event.

Organizers came to a more-appropriate location, not far from the original Oktupperfest grounds—the Tupper Lake Golf Course.

With its open space, dense foliage and scenic backdrops of Adirondack mountains and hills, the Tupper Lake Golf Course is the best alternative to the mountain, hopefully creating a hint of nostalgia of previous Oktupperfests as event-goers turn off Route 30 and drive up Country Club Road.

The event is still coming together with kinks yet to be ironed out.

“We’re still working things out with the golf course and figuring out what’s permissible and what areas and how much space we can use,” McCottery said.

Like a typical Oktupperfest, there will be plenty of activities for all ages to enjoy including pumpkin painting, face painting, games and hay rides where passengers can enjoy a spectacle of fall colors throughout the golf course and the cross-country ski trails that hidden amongst the dense woods surrounding the course.

Organizers are also getting Zorb Balls for the event, giant inflatable, human-sized hamster balls where anyone can roll, bounce and bump around in a safe and playful nature.

Local rock band Bittersweet will be providing musical entertainment, as well as Night School, a Tupper Lake favorite who will be teaching lessons on the changing leaves and German traditions.

Event-goers can also expect a variety of beer to enjoy, including craft beers and lighter options like Coors Light, Miller Lite and Bud Light. Organizers are still in the midst of getting craft brewers on board.

Organizers are also working out food vendors for the event to provide a variety of foods to go along with the festivities. Currently, the only confirmed vendor is the Lions Club which will be serving up hamburgers and hotdogs, smothered, of course, in the famous Lions caramelized onions.

All the monies generated at this years Oktupperfest will go to benefit the Tupper Lake Rescue Squad, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Sunday, September 1.

The chamber of commerce is always looking for additional support, sponsorships and colunteers. If interested, contact the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce at (518) 359-3328, or pop into their office at 121 Park Street.

Tupper residents can vote Saturday on a name for new baseball team

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland

Tupper Lake residents will have a chance Saturday to vote on a name for the new Empire League franchise coming to Tupper Lake next year.

In past weeks since the announcement of the coming of Tupper Lake's new semi pro baseball team there have been numerous letters to the editor and public comments in opposition to the suggested team name, the “River Pigs.”

The name was selected by League President Ed Gonzalez, after researching our community's logging heritage and finding the name that was a term for the men who rode the logs down rivers and across lakes to mills. Old timers have said the men were revered for their agility and skill, doing one of the most dangerous jobs in a dangerous industry.

In the face of the local opposition to the name, the local support committee for the Empire League, headed by Trustee David “Haji” Maroun, decided it would be in the community's best interest to give people a one-time chance to vote on another name.

The village board was set to mull the issue next month (see related story this week), but that won't be necessary now.

The vote will take place on Saturday, August 31 at the municipal park ball field between 12p.m. and 6pm.

Anyone wishing to vote on the team name will fill out a confidential ballot and place it in the box there. Everyone must cast your vote in person if you would like their voice heard, Rick Skiff, a member of the Empire League baseball committee said this week.

Tallying the votes after 6p.m. will be Free Press Publisher Dan McClelland and Adirondack Daily Enterprise reporter Aaron Cerbone. Seems the committee couldn't find honest people to do that.

The committee members have teamed up with Rick Reandeau of New York Life and together they will be selling hot dogs and hamburgers all afternoon, with all proceeds going towards the work being completed on the municipal field.

“We encourage as many of you as possible to attend, said Mr. Skiff. “It will only take a few minutes to cast a ballot. In addition, the committee members can answer any questions you may have concerning the field construction.”

The following is the list of possible team names chosen based on public suggestion with all names vetted through the Empire League president to ensure the names could be used. These choices are: River Pigs, Axemen, River Driver (another name for the men who rode the logs to market), Rowdy Bucks, Tupper Timber, River Otters and the Mighty Hemlocks.

Explains Mr. Skiff: “The team name that receives the most votes will be the name of the team coming to Tupper Lake next summer. This vote will be final. If you feel passionate about any one of these names, cast your vote and let your voice be heard!”

Trustee Ron LaScala, another member of the baseball committee, said he was not happy this week that Mr. Gonzalez has been asked to change his team's name.

“When has this community asked a private business to change its name? Never!” he stated.

He called it “offensive and unfair” to Mr. Gonzalez, who will be investing a lot of money in creating this new team for Tupper Lake, and said he has personally apologized to him several times in recent weeks.

The name controversy did, however, generate the kind of publicity that money can't buy.

Borrowing a term from social media, the story from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise went viral across the Associated Press wire service. It appeared in a number of national newspapers including USA Today and the Washington Post and was mentioned twice this week on the nationally syndicated Bob and Tom radio show.

This is the short piece in USA Today: “New York Tupper Lake: Organizers of a new semi-pro baseball team are rooting around for a new nickname after some residents grunted at the proposed moniker “River Pigs.” The Adirondack Daily Enterprise reports Tupper Lake Village Board Member David Maroun says the name of the Empire League will be changed. “River Pigs” was chosen to reflect the region's logging history, but some residents said it sounded demeaning.”


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!

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.

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

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.

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.

Lions bandshell to be dedicated Tuesday; opening performance July 3

Dan McClelland

The Village of Tupper Lake will formally open its new bandshell in Flanders Park with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 2. All are welcome to attend.

The Tupper Lake Bandshell was designed by architect Andrew Chary and constructed with funding from the New York State Department of State under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund, donations of over $40,000 raised by the Tupper Lake Lions Club and Tupper Lake residents and friends, and generous donations of labor and equipment by local contractors and Lions Club members.

Lion Tom LaMere and Trustee Clint Hollingsworth directed the construction of the new facility, working with local volunteers and a village committee comprised of Mayor Paul Maroun, Village Clerk Mary Casagrain, Trustee Ron LaScala, Lions Club President Dan McClelland, ROOST's Michele Clement, Community Development Director Melissa McManus and others.

At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3, Tupper Lake will celebrate the opening of the new bandshell and the Fourth of July with the first concert of the 2019 Tupper Arts Summer Sunset Series.

The opening concert will feature Tupper Lake's newest band, Night School, featuring a mix of the Ben and Jay band and Abbott Hayes from a decade ago. Performing popular tunes of the seventies, eighties and current will be the McClelland brothers, Andrew and Ben, their cousin Ian Roantree, Jay Martin and Micah Tyo.

After Night School, George and Liz Cordes, combined with an assortment of talented family members and friends, will treat the Tupper Lake audience to a medley of Americana and patriotic pieces to welcome in the annual Independence Day holiday. Beginning about 7p.m. the musical tribute will precede the annual fireworks in the park at dusk, presented by the chamber of commerce through support from the village and town boards.

The full Summer Sunset Series program of events to be held at the new Tupper Lake Bandshell can be viewed at www.tupperarts.org.

Organized by Tupper Arts the series has been substantially underwritten by the Village of Tupper Lake.

Admission to every performance is free, but donations are most welcome to help Tupper Arts bring more entertainment to town this year.

The Wild Center celebrates the arrival of two new North American River otters on June 22

Dan McClelland

The Wild Center family is expanding this summer with the arrival of two male North American river otters. The pair make their debut in Otter Falls on Saturday, June 22 from 10am to 5pm, which also marks The Wild Center's inaugural You Otter Run/Walk 5K benefitting the Center's Betsy Lowe Fund for Adirondack Education.

The pair began their journey to The Wild Center in Ohio where they were trapped as nuisance animals. Crayfish farmers in Ohio often trap North American river otters as their diet subsists of crayfish, as well as snakes, frogs and fish. These trapped river otters are often slated to be killed and used for fur, or in some cases, relocated to areas without enough food to survive. The Wild Center's Animal Care staff was made aware of their situation and jumped at the opportunity to rescue the pair. The otters join the Center's three other otters: Louie, Scarlett, and Squirt.

Currently unnamed, the otters will be welcomed by a group of youths from Akwesasne as they learn about the mammals, then discover suitable names in the Kaniehkehaka language. The naming project works to keep the spirit alive of the lasting Ways of Knowing partnership between The Wild Center and the Haudenosaunee community.

Tupper Lake, Long Lake school voters approve budgest, propositions

Dan McClelland

Tupper Lake Central School District voters approved in overwhelming fashion the district's $19.43 million spending plan that was put before them when they went to the polls last Tuesday.

The new budget, which will see a spending increase by 3.81%, was approved 324 to 55. A total of 380 votes were cast and 85% of those voted “yes.”

The school tax levy (what taxpayers pay) in the new budget is $8.1 million, up from the current figure of $7.9 million. The increase was 2.1% which fell below the 2% state tax cap, when permissible exemptions districts enjoy were factored in.

Public school enrollment this coming year is expected to be down only three students from this year's enrollment of 726, indicating a flattening trend.

Last week's school voting saw a second proposition on the ballot to permit the district this coming year to purchase two new school busses, as part of its five-year replacement plan adopted a number of years ago. The question also included the purchase of a second zamboni ice-cleaning machine for the civic center. The package totaled $350,000 but the district will see $121,000 from the state in transportation aid in coming years. The measure also passed by a huge margin, 309 to 70, or with an 82% favorable rating.

David Dewyea, a veteran member of the board and who was running unopposed this year, was re-elected to another three-year term with the endorsement of 348 voters.

Long Lake voters okayed a $3.5 million capital construction project to make repairs to school buildings. The vote count there was 120 in the affirmative while 97 voters opposed it.

A new $4.18 million school budget was approved like most North Country budget votes last Tuesday. The budget vote was 153 to 63. Spending in the new financial plan is up by $117,768 over the current budget. Long Lake's tax levy for this coming school year is $2.91 million- up 2.42% or $69,000. The district's tax cap, with exemptions, this year was 2.45%.

Replacing Fred Short on the school board this year will be Joan Paula who garnered 125 votes. Unsuccessful in the race was Jodi Luxford with 79 votes.

There were single write-in votes cast Tuesday for Timothy Touchette, John Adams, Gary Baker and Tony Clark.

Bike Rodeo coming June 8

Dan McClelland

Village leaders encouraged parents in the community to bring their children to the annual Tupper Lake Police Department's “Bike Rodeo.”

The event, under the chairmanship again of Officer Mike Vaillancourt with help this year again from Officer Heather Kennedy, will again be staged at the Paul A. Maroun Emergency Service Building on Saturday, June 8 from 10a.m. to 2p.m.. Before the station was built four years ago the event was staged for years at the lower parking lot of L.P. Quinn Elementary School.

Thousands of dollars in prizes, helmets and great food go to the young riders and their families each year.

“It's always a great event for kids, their parents and families,” asserted Mayor Paul Maroun. “It was a big success last year and I expect it to be a greater success this year!”

A full story on all the event will be carried in next week's issue.

The mayor also took the opportunity that evening to plug the upcoming J.D. Golf Tournament on Saturday, June 1 at the Tupper Lake golf course which benefits the hometown department's K-9 unit, directed by Sgt. Jordan Nason.

“We have law enforcement officers coming from all over the county and from sections of Troop B state police and it should be a great event.”


Both school district propositions pass by large margins

Dan McClelland

Tupper Lake Central School District voters approved in overwhelming fashion the district's $19.43 million spending plan that was put before them when they went to the polls yesterday.

The new budget, which will see a spending increase by 3.81%, was approved 324 to 55. A total of 380 votes were cast and 85% of those voted “yes.”

The school tax levy (what taxpayers pay) in the new budget is $8.1 million, up from the current figure of $7.9 million. The increase was 2.1% which fell below the 2% state tax cap, when permissible exemptions districts enjoy were factored in.

Public school enrollment this coming year is expected to be down only three students from this year's enrollment of 726, indicating a flattening trend.

Yesterday saw a second proposition on the ballot to permit the district this coming year to purchase two new school busses, as part of its five-year replacement plan adopted a number of years ago. The question also included the purchase of a second zamboni ice-cleaning machine for the civic center. The package totaled $350,000 but the district will see $121,000 from the state in transportation aid in coming years. The measure also passed by a huge margin, 309 to 70, or with an 82% favorable rating.

David Dewyea, a veteran member of the board and who was running unopposed this year, was re-elected to another three-year term with the endorsement of 348 voters.

Multiple agencies respond to sinking vessel

Dan McClelland

On Wednesday, May 1 at approximately 7:05p.m. Dave Francisco, a resident on Emma Street, looking out over the lake from his window said, “he was in the right spot, at the right time.” He saw a boat leaving shore, watched it flip and quickly called 911 and notified them of a sinking vessel with one occupant on the northwest portion of Raquette Pond.

New York State Police, DEC, Tupper Lake Police and Tupper Lake Rescue Squad responded to multiple locations including the Moody Bridge, Municipal Park, Water Street and Underwood Bridge in search of the sinking vessel.

The boater, Lee Roussel, 46, of Tupper Lake, was located close to the northern shore.

A member of the Tupper Lake Rescue Squad was able to use a private watercraft to make contact with and remove Mr. Roussel from the water. Mr. Roussel was found clinging to the floating gas tank of his boat and was not wearing a personal floatation device. He was then taken to the Tupper Lake Municipal Park Boat Launch and transferred to the awaiting ambulance.

The Tupper Lake Rescue Squad then transported Mr. Roussel to Adirondack Health in Saranac Lake for the onset of hypothermia.

His boat sank in the shallow water near where it was found.


Old parade route, new spark coming for 2019 Woodsmen's Days parade

Dan McClelland

With the major reconstruction of the uptown business district by New York State behind us, the Tupper Lake Woodsmen's Days organizers of the large kick-off parade decided this year to switch back to the old route.

For years the parade participants assembled on upper Park Street and some of the side streets there and then proceeded down Park through the business district, rounding the corners on Wawbeek and Lake and moving down Lake Street to the Tupper Lake Municipal Park outer area. With Park Street torn up in recent years, the Demars Blvd. Route was used the past three years.

-And to make the parade bigger and more vibrant than Tupper Lake and its many visitors have seen in years, Andrew McClelland and Pat Bedore of Stacked Graphics and Faith McClelland of Spruce and Hemlock have teamed up this year with Parade Coordinator Amanda Lizotte.

The young entrepreneurs who relocated to the heart of the uptown business district this winter are inviting their commercial and retail neighbors to join them in decorating their storefronts and business fronts in a lumberjack theme with plenty of red and black check plaid.

The decoration trio is asking everyone on that two-block stretch of Park Street to have the decorations in place from Thursday, July 12 to Sunday, July 14 to welcome all visitors with grand and home-spun lumberjack hospitality.

The decorations don't have to be costly and elaborate...just simple and colorful like the early lumberjacks here.

“How magnificent would our business district look decked out in buffalo plaid for four days?” the three say. “We may be surprised at how many tourists stop without even knowing about our Woodsmen's Days to find out what's going on.”

The decorations may also bring local residents down to see the decorations and stop in stores they haven't been in for years, they figure.

They are calling on their commercial neighbors to start planning their decorations now, before the busy summer season begins.

The three business people say: “Let's make this the year of participation...the year of camaraderie... the year of supporting one another...the year of Tupper Lake!”

In a related matter, Mrs. Lizotte is also looking for businesses, groups and organizations of all sorts to again join the Woodsmen's Parade with their floats and marching groups to make it as good or better than any in its 40-year history. Last year's procession, under the parade coordinator's direction, boasted one of largest turn-outs of large logging industry equipment and tractor trailers in recent years.

Last week the village board approved the new parade route and the retail promotion to accompany the parade.