TUPPER LAKE - The village board plans to decide at its May meeting whether to pave a road owned by town Supervisor Roger Amell.
Board members put off a decision at a budget workshop last week, saying they wanted an engineer to look closer at the road. They discussed it again Monday night but decided to wait yet again while they seek out more information. Mayor Paul Maroun said he plans to bring it up for a final vote at the board's regular meeting in May.
Amell and his father bought the land in the Junction neighborhood and developed it with houses a little over a decade ago. They never paved the road, Amell Lane, and residents there have complained that the street is too covered in potholes for school buses and mail carriers to drive down it.
(Enterprise file photo)
The road has been a topic of discussion for the village board for years. In 2011, a different slate of village leaders decided that the village had no place in taking control of the road or paving it. But when that mayor and two trustees were replaced in subsequent elections, it came back up again last year and this year.
When it was discussed last year, the board never came to a conclusion.
This year, Amell sent a handwritten request to Maroun and the village board on March 18, asking the village to take over the road and explaining the work he has done on it.
"I have invested approximately $60,000 in the infrastructure of Amell Lane with 550 feet of 8 (inch) sewer line and two (2) man holes, 550 feet of 6 (inch) water line and two (2) fire hydrants along with 600 feet of graveled road," Amell wrote in the letter, which was sent on Amell Logging letterhead.
Trustee Tom Snyder has been and continues to be against the village doing anything to the road. He said Monday it needs a lot of work before it's ready to pave and that it is not up to village standards.
"When we don't adhere to our own standards, we're lost - period," Snyder said.
He noted that in a similar case, the village had a family ask that it pave the end of McCarthy Street in 2009. At that time, the village gave the family several loads of gravel and had them grade the road themselves, Snyder said.
"We didn't do anything," Snyder said. "And it wasn't a very good situation, but that's what we did."
Snyder said that if the village takes over and paves Amell Lane, it had better be prepared to do the same for anyone else who makes a similar request of the board. He advised his colleagues to look forward to spending a lot of money on such requests.
Trustee Rick Donah, who brought the topic up when running for office in 2011 after talking with residents of Amell Lane, asked if an engineer had been sent to look at the road yet.
Maroun said that had not yet happened, arguing that the village's Department of Public Works Superintendent Mike Sparks has told the board what needs to be done.
"Why do we want to spend more money on this issue?" Maroun said.
"It needs to be not the taxpayer paying for it, period," Snyder said.
Donah said he wants a legal opinion on what the village board is responsible for in such a situation. Village Clerk Mary Casagrain said that both state law and the village's policies make it clear that the village board can decide whether to pay for the work, make the developer pay for the work, or agree to a split between the two.
"It's really in your ball court," Casagrain told the board.
Trustee Leon LeBlanc said the board has asked Amell to do the work himself, but that hasn't happened and LeBlanc doesn't expect it to happen in the future.
"We've asked this gentleman a number of times to step up to the plate," LeBlanc said. "He has never come forward."
LeBlanc said if he lived on Amell Lane, he'd be at village board screaming for the village to pave the road.
Snyder said if he lived there and was promised a paved road when he bought his home, he'd make the developer pave it.
LeBlanc countered that the board has been told that residents of Amell Lane have deeds that promise a paved road, but none of them have showed the village documents with that language.
"Time to do something about it is now," LeBlanc said. "We got to do something, one way or the other."
Trustee David "Haji" Maroun said he's also in favor of paving the road.
"They pay taxes; they deserve a paved road," he said.
Donah said he won't vote on the road until he knows whether it's up to village standards. He said every taxpayer in the village deserves due diligence, and the people who live on Amell Lane deserve more from the village than being put off for another year.
The mayor said he will have an attorney check the deeds at the Franklin County clerk's office before the next meeting.
Contact Jessica Collier at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.