Cheers and Jeers

CHEERS — To the proposal from the Caroga Arts Collective to further enhance on its summer music festivals to turn the former Sherman’s Amusement Park property into a first-class arts venue. While the proposal would possibly mean selling the town-owned property to the CAC, moving forward with the proposal would seem like a good move for all involved.

Local lawyer George Abdella and his wife Ruth donated the former amusement park to the town three years ago with the stipulation it not be sold. He has since endorsed the CAC’s proposal and has written a letter noting he would not sue the town if it chooses to pass ownership of the park to the CAC.

When town officials first started exploring the options for the shuttered park that sits on a premier piece of property lakeside, it soon realized marketing the deteriorating property would be difficult.

In the summer of 2016, after officials toured the former park with six prominent real estate brokers, only one was willing to offer a marketing strategy. Two others began the process, but did not submit proposals, citing the complexity of the town owning the property and the stipulation from Abdella that Sherman’s could not be sold. (A stipulation the town has since “rescinded,” but could face costly legal action if the property was sold to an outside entity, such as a developer.)

For the last two summers, the Caroga Lake Music Festival, an arm of the CAC, and the residents of Caroga have shown they whole-heartly could make the proposal happen.

From a few free concerts in 2017, this year the venue exploded with world-renowned artists coming into Caroga to share their talents at the park, as well as other localities throughout Fulton and Montgomery counties.

And while the property would still not bring in property taxes since the CAC is non-profit, the revenue brought in by the visiting artists, the tourists who come here to see them and the expanded attraction of a first-class arts venue can only benefit Caroga, along with Fulton and Montgomery counties.

People have to eat, have a place to sleep and buy necessities and hopefully, indulge in some of the pleasures of this beautiful area.

While the town should not rush into any quick decisions — and so far, they haven’t — once officials are clear on what direction they want to go, a referendum should still be held so residents themselves have a say in the process.

But so far, Kyle Price and the members of the CAC, along with Caroga residents, have shown their commitment to the process of making this dream come true.

By Kerry Minor

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