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AMA annexation has problems

May 6, 2013
By Francis Casier

Input has been requested to make comments and submit documents from the public regarding annexing American Management Association into the village. This is my input.

I am neither for or against, but I am in favor of presenting the truth on the matter. I feel that some information printed in the local news media for the past two years is not entirely accurate.

I strongly support AMA. I was a graduate of their first class. Have cured from tuberculosis, lived near and been associated with the Trudeau center for 60 years. We really like and appreciate this fine institution, which has been operating successfully. Why fix something which is not broken? Savings afforded to AMA sound good but will fall on the back of already overburdened local taxpayers.

Currently the village of Saranac Lake, town of Harrietstown and town of St. Armand do not provide basic services to millions of dollars' worth of real estate which is already approved, built and being taxed in the village.

I predict that the village will have serious legal problems to annex the 65 acres of AMA land and accept the dedication of the roads and streets which service this property. I say that because of what Clyde Rabideau told me in a letter dated Jan. 27, 2012, when I asked the village (and town) to accept streets in fully approved, developed and heavily taxed subdivisions with upscale new homes that receive virtually no services from the village or the towns.

Clyde wrote on Jan. 27, 2012, in part:

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"Dear Mr. Casier,

"Thank you (for) your letter, dated January 7, 2012, offering to give certain streets to the Village of Saranac Lake, to ease your personal financial burdens.

"Please be advised that the village, as most other municipalities, have strict engineering criteria for any street it chooses to 'accept' or have 'dedicated.'

"By copy of this letter, I ask our Village Manager to forward to you these criteria. Kindly have a license engineer certify that the street(s) do(es), indeed, meet all these criteria. Additionally, the village reserves the right to conduct its own inspection and analysis of same for verification and/or to retain its own engineer, the cost of which shall be borne by the developer.

"Further, you will need to have a legal description of all the street meets and bounds, compiled and defined by a licensed attorney, surveyor or engineer, delivered to us.

"The village Planning Board may also need to weigh in on this issue, should you proceed, as well as the New York State Department of Health and DEC. We will also need a letter of 'non-jurisdiction' from the APA. Once we get all the required information, we will be most pleased to get right to work on your request.

"Sincerely,

"Clyde Rabideau, Mayor

"Cc: John Sweeney, Village Manager, Board of Trustees"

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Mr. Sweeney writes Feb. 9, 2012, in part:

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"Re: Village Road Standards

"Mr. Casier,

"As per correspondence on January 27, 2012 from Mayor Rabideau I have enclosed the sections of the village code which addresses the subdivison as well as road standards for the Village of Saranac Lake. As the Mayor stated, please have a licensed engineer certify that the street(s) indeed meet all criteria as described within.

"Respectfully;

"John M. Sweeney, Village Manager

"CC: T. Worthington, VSL CEO, VSL Board of Trustees"

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Enclosed were four pages, No. 174-46 and 47 Saranac Lake code.

The dilemma of what to do with 65 acres and 70 buildings on the Trudeau property is not new. A research document about the Rev. Samuel Smith family by James and Patricia Richards, commencing in 1804, outlines in detail the various acquisitions from the Smith farm, now the home of Tom and Marlene Hyde. It is a slice of early Adirondack history of the Saranac lakes area. The first acquisition was 16 acres to the Paul Smith Guides for Dr. Trudeau's Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium, now the AMA property. My interest commenced about 60 years ago as an officer in the newly recognized Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce, by the Lions Club, when we tried to establish a college there, and peaked in 2004 when a vice president of AMA requested my opinions to right-size their Saranac Lake plant. I made an extensive study and prepared a 70-page book of information about the AMA complex. A copy has been made a part of the annexing record and furnished to the village, library, Enterprise and other places. This study is a must-read for all people involved in making a decision on the annexation.

I also have some legal reading from the Internet, some against village interests, and some incomplete: agreement, 21 pages; easement, 23 pages; AMA Way cost, 10 pages; other, 23 pages; and much more.

On April 11, 2013, an Enterprise headline by Mike Lynch reads: "AMA annex gets final approval 3-0." I do not think that this is a final approval. That is only one small step in a very long process to conform to Article 174-46 and 47 of village code. The process must meet the same requirements required of Bruce Sapiro in his One Dewey Mountain Village development off Lake Street, which were very long and very expensive. See pictures and pages 18, 37, 38, 39 and 40 of my 70-page book.

Also the village must meet the same requirements that Robert Scheefer did for his Hawk Ridge (Dewey Mountain) development near Glenwood, which included a stop-work order, a cease-and-desist order, plus years of very hard work at great cost. See pages 19, 20, 41, 42 and 43, with pictures, in my 70-page book. The annexing process may take years and may end up a failure, as is happening to the Adirondack Club and Resort in Tupper Lake. Further, AMA has enjoyed complete control, peace and reduced traffic for many years. When the gates and their streets are open to the public, there will be greatly increased traffic, cars and trucks, some at high speed, on their way to the ski hill, Malone, Bloomingdale and Plattsburgh. AMA will be a much different place. No such thing that the HUD process will solve these problems, especially after the mayor moves on. If the village tries to bypass its own law and approval process, they can expect long, expensive lawsuits. The Tupper Lake Adirondack Club and Resort has millions invested and after eight years is not even close to new construction. Who will carry this on after Clyde is gone?

Some of my qualifications to make these statements are: I am 94 years old, still working long hours. Came to the area fresh out of high school in 1937 from Chateaugay to help build a new highway through a wilderness to Tupper Lake. Lived on Park Avenue with the same lady, same address, almost in sight of the AMA property for 63 years. Have created and developed millions of dollars' worth of new homes and tax base in four towns, two counties and the village. Worked three six-year terms and was past chairman of the board and Building Committee that built North Country Community College. With a partner developed and virtually gave a 100-acre site for the new high school, now worth millions of dollars. Founded and ran a successful furniture business for 40 years. Chaired the chamber of commerce committee which developed the River Street view park. Had 50 projects, large and small. No failures. Not a recent arrival. Graduated from college magna cum lade at 65. My accomplishments are legion. I have earned the right to speak up for over 75 years.

There is much more that should be written, but I have overrun my thousand words.

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Francis Casier lives in Saranac Lake and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

 
 

 

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