By JOHN BORGOLINI
Fulton County Express
CAROGA — Many town residents believed the town’s acquisition of the former Sherman’s Amusement Park was straightened out this past May when town officials voted unanimously to rescind the original agreement with George and Ruth Abdella.
But two weeks ago, George Abdella addressed the board again, and said the town had no right in changing the original agreement.
Despite Town Supervisor Ralph Ottuso and George previously agreeing to get rid of the agreement, Abdella addressed the town board at its Nov. 9 meeting and said the town hasn’t lived up to its agreement to keep up the property “to the highest standards.”
Abdella said the town cannot change the donor’s agreement without a signature from both parties, and he never signed an agreement for any changes.
He said he had talked with Ottuso and Albany Attorney Sal Ferlazzo — whom the town brought in, because town attorney David Jung also acted as Abdella’s attorney in the original agreement — but was misled by Ferlazzo on what the resolution passed in May would do.
He said the town’s negligence is another reason he addressed this issue now.
“They’re not taking care of it,” Abdella said. “If you go by there, the picnic tables are still out. The place is deteriorating by the second. The place has been broken into four times, the carousel has been broken into, and I’ve had to send people over there to fix it.”
He said he is still debating whether or not to pursue legal action yet.
“I’m hopeful they’ll just abide by the agreement and do what they’re supposed to do,” he said.”They’ve got a new board in there now, and they’re just as obligated as the old board. Nothing changes. I’m assuming they’ll live up to the terms of the agreement.”
Robert Sullivan, current board member who will take over as supervisor in January, said he understands the concerns George brought up at its most-recent meeting.
“I can appreciate him wanting the board to make some improvements or fix some things that have deteriorated over the years,” Sullivan said. “The current board never really discussed these items, so it never got acted upon. I can appreciate that aspect of what he had to say.”
Incoming Board Member Jeremy Manning, who will begin his term in January, is very familiar with the acquisition as he served on the subcommittee that came up with the suggestions leading to the town’s rescission.
Manning said he’s not surprised George recently expressed his displeasure as he has always felt the original donation agreement is still in play and the town has to follow.
“I don’t what his goal is here. I know he wants the town to abide by the agreement,” Manning said. “I don’t know, legally, whether we’re going to have to or not. I think it’s something the board will have to look at with another attorney. I’m hopeful that we can come to a conclusion that’s beneficial to us and the Abdellas that doesn’t involve us having to go to court over it.”
“I’m pretty confident we can do that. I’m just hoping we can do this in a timely fashion and not drag this out any longer than we have to.”
He also said the town board members will have to look over the town’s ownership of the property again as well.
He said he knows a lot of people don’t want the town to own it and don’t think the town can afford it.
The board has to look at other ideas in addition to Kyle Price’s proposal to turn it into a creative arts center, he said.
“This has to be a town-wide decision. It can’t be something we decide on as a board,” Manning said. “I think we have to get universal support before we move ahead with a project down there. I know how I feel about, but right now it’s still early in the process to really pick an outcome. We have to work long and hard at what’s going to be best for our town, and not just within one year — in 10 to 20 years.
“What’s going to make this place really restore some of the heritage and some of the traditions move here for and have remained her for?”
Sullivan agreed that the new board will have to discuss the issue as it progresses throughout 2016.
Ottuso previously said the acquisition of the historic park falls into the town’s vision within the comprehensive plan for the development of a “town center”, which would be a hotspot for both economic development and activities.
He said the long term plans, such as the town center, would aim at serving other needs like business development, information booths, public restrooms and picnic spaces.
Abdella previously said his family has made major renovations to the carousel, infrastructure, surrounding buildings and other parts of the waterfront facility. He said the property was previously appraised at $3.1 million.
The former amusement park located at 104 E. Shore Road was originally operated in the 1920’s.