Caroga’s Sherman’s Park future pitched at meeting

A powerpoint presentation of the Caroga Arts Collective’s goals for Sherman’s is shown. A meeting to discuss Sherman’s was held in Caroga on Tuesday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

CAROGA — “Everyone has a story about Sherman’s” was the theme of a meeting held Tuesday in which members of the Caroga Arts Collective presented information to the public regarding its proposal on the town-owned property.

There leading the presentation were Kyle Price, executive and artistic director, and Rick Ruby, chair of the board of directors.

Price and Ruby went through the organization’s goals to revitalize the Sherman’s property and stated reasons why CAC would be what’s “best” for Sherman’s.

CAC’s future plans for Sherman’s is to turn it into a first-class performing arts venue. There would be a lakeside performance venue; a main building which could hold performances, banquets, conferences, town hall meetings or other uses; carousel for banquets and art gallery installation space; and an informational booth for supplying information on Caroga and the Adirondacks, and seeing Caroga as the gateway to the Adirondacks.

“It’s one of the first towns you come up to and what a great opportunity to have this really profound property right here that leads people up to the Adirondack Park and with so many possibilities that could come with that,” Price said. “So we’re thinking about creative ways to use the property and there are different ideas that extend beyond that.”

The future plans also include to continue to present new programs, outreaches and performances accessible to the community year-round; develop a year-round campus at the MyHil property to host artists residencies and community programs; continued revitalization of Sherman’s and develop the Sherman’s Park for Arts and Collaborative Education; and continue to bring together a community of artists to collaborate across fields and genres on interdisciplinary projects revitalizing local culture, business and life.

CAC members each emphasized that they want the future plans for Sherman’s to benefit everyone in the community. Opportunities for community members at Sherman’s could include an open community arts park and center for enjoyment and practical use; community members and the town could use Sherman’s for events such as meetings, weddings, festivals; and a catalyst for development of a town center, not on the town dollar.

“It is designed for the community,” said Ruby. “It is a grassroots effort, it’s the volunteers, the donors that have helped since Kyle started this — a dream to what it’s becoming now.”

He said there used to be firework displays at Sherman’s on the 4th of July and the CAC would like to have them again, along with a concert.

“The carousel is good and running, people being able to ride it. I was there with the electrician last year, the Ferris wheel actually turns,” Ruby said. “There would be a lot of things that need to be done, but this is all part of what can happen to the good of the community certainly not for the exclusive use by any means of the CAC.”

The CAC is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2016 as an extension of the Caroga Lake Music Festival that has taken place since 2012. The organization has four programs along with the CLMF that include Your Body is Your Strad, InterArts Symposium and the MyHil Film Series. Their mission is “Reigniting the Caroga Experience.”

Each year these programs bring in over 100 musicians and artists to the town.

“We obviously have amazing programs and different things going on already, but just people and different events, I think really helps bring another opportunity to this town,” Price said. “To bring people, not just locally, to the performances which is what we absolutely love, but also bringing people from the Northeast, the Midwest — people fly in to attend our different events.”

Following CAC’s presentation, community members and business owners asked questions and expressed any concerns or opinions they had on Sherman’s.

Kim Hart, who regularly attends town board meetings, suggested for everyone to attend the meetings each month.

“If you really want to make things happen in the town, you need to be at those meetings. At those meetings, everything just goes off the next month and the next month and the next month,” Hart said. “When the CAC decided that they wanted to have events over there. When you talk about the CAC, you’re talking about it like it’s a separate entity. The Caroga Arts Collective is a collective group of citizens in Caroga.”

She said they created a sense of community that has been lost. She said several restaurants come back to life and the CAC has brought in so many people to the town.

Planning Board Chairman Al Kozakiewicz said he would like to see something along the lines of a public, private partnership.

Several other business owners, community members and board members of the CAC spoke on what the CAC has done for Caroga Lake such as bringing more people to town, which brings more traffic to local businesses, along with all of the concerts held which bring even more people from outside the town, making it a tourist town.

A second story will follow tomorrow on the business owners, town officials and public’s comments on the proposal by the CAC.

By Patricia Older

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