Our rebuttal to Rabideau
In response to the Sept. 27 Enterprise article on the 21 Duprey St. controversy, we are writing to set the record straight on several claims that were made to your reporter and published without first being confirmed for accuracy.
To quote Clyde Rabideau: “This is America, where people should be able to speak their minds … as passionately as they wish, and to participate in public discourse” (Facebook, Oct. 10, 2020) and “the way I’ve conducted my life and my business are subject to anybody taking a look” (NCPR interview, Aug. 17). We are speaking our minds, because we still have the freedom in America to express facts, opinions and grievances openly, without fear, and taking a look at how Rabideau conducts himself.
Regarding the article, Linda Scheefer says: “I did not go onto their property waving a stick as Clyde claimed. I was, in fact, holding one of six stakes — all of which Clyde had his worker Steve Snyder remove, and which Steve admitted to on audio-recording — when Clyde got out of his truck and charged up to me pointing his finger at my face aggressively, then verbally accosted me with the profanity quoted in the article.”
This disgraceful, misogynistic behavior, especially by an elected official, is reprehensible and shows his complete lack of character and integrity.
Second, no proof was provided by Strab Ventures as to the 21 Duprey property being created, subdivided or transferred first. We looked up public records, maps and deeds of that lot and found nothing supporting their claim. The article says a survey is basically an opinion informed by data or records. If that’s true, do updated surveys mean nothing? Or should we all go back to the dawn of time until we find some item that might benefit our claims?
Third, no photos were taken of subcontractors, as Rabideau Corp. Vice President Keith Braun (Clyde’s step-son-in-law) claimed. Photos that were taken include:
¯ Numerous yards of the project’s excavation fill spilled onto Scheefer’s property, with a boundary string line as a reference;
¯ Rabideau Corp. machinery on Scheefer’s property;
¯ Scheefer’s four-section fence in its original spot and then where Rabideau and his employee Snyder moved them to (another thing Snyder admits to on audio, copies of which can be provided);
¯ Boundary markers/stakes being present and then after they disappeared, leaving just holes;
¯ Iron monuments and survey pins;
¯ Numerous boundary string lines, ribbons and posted “No trespassing” and “Keep out” signs (which kept being removed);
¯ Rabideau trucks and worker vehicles illegally parked at the site, partially blocking the proper flow of traffic;
¯ A section of a decades-old wire fence that ran through a hedgerow, believed to be a boundary line, and then suddenly disappearing after the disputes started, leaving only the sharp ends where it was cut;
¯ Several inches of the village street dug up and removed in front of the project’s driveway, extending the driveway, and then that blacktop debris dumped in Rabideau’s backyard;
¯ And the project’s live power pole moved with wires so as to avoid the new construction code requirement of putting the electric service underground.
These are all timeline-documented and available.
Fourth, the village claimed staff and elected trustees found the Building and Planning Department’s actions were conducted properly and according to the Development Code. We disagree. We looked through the project’s file in its entirety, which contained three building permit applications by Rabideau Corp. dated April 26, May 4 and May 19, none of which were signed or marked approved; yet the building permit was issued on May 4. There were two site plan sketches, April 26 and May 10. Both had just two initials on them — “DR”and “CR” — instead of the name of the person responsible for preparing the drawing as the code requires. Both sketches lack the names of the owners of adjoining parcels as is required, and the site plans were not done by a state licensed design professional, also required. This requirement can be waived, but no such documentation was provided when we asked for it, nor was there any documentation in the file indicating such a waiver. Furthermore, the code requires a certified copy of the approved site-plan be filed as the plan of record, yet this was also not in the file.
Fifth, the article quotes Rabideau accusing community organizer Fred Balzac, a village resident, of getting people “riled up,” contending that neighbors of the 21 Duprey St. project have been, according to your reporter (the following does not quote Rabideau directly) “against the development from the beginning because they’ve been assisted in their complaints by Balzac.” The mayor’s accusation that Fred has riled up folks in the Duprey Street is poppycock. People were already riled up by Rabideau’s self-serving construction and real estate practices in the neighborhood long before Balzac became involved. The statement in the article that “Balzac has organized community opposition to Rabideau’s development on Duprey Street before, at 51, 53, 55 and 57 Duprey St.” is also untrue. Community opposition to Rabideau’s original plan to build four townhouses on .44 of an acre was already strong and the neighbors were well-organized before Fred joined in. The fact that Rabideau Corp. withdrew their revised plan to build three townhouses on that lot is a testament to the effectiveness by, and solidarity among, the Duprey Street neighborhood residents. Balzac was a contributor to that effort, not an instigator.
Sixth, the article states that Rabideau’s surveyor, John McLean, built his survey on historical records and reports village code administrator Paul Blaine claiming that “everyone in that neighborhood is operating on old deeds and surveys.” That is false: Many in the neighborhood have updated deeds and surveys, rendering Blaine’s assertion that Rabideau’s records are valid and everyone else’s are not to be another lie. The article concludes with Blaine saying “this is a lot to do about nothing.” Wrong again: This entire issue is about much more than nothing — despite all the efforts by Blaine, Rabideau and company to downplay it and gaslight the community. On June 23, 2020, Clyde posted that he will call a spade a spade. Well, now so are we.
Margot Kampf, Jim Cochran and Linda Scheefer are residents of Saranac Lake.