MAHOPAC, N.Y. - It’s official. The American Legion Hall on Buckshollow Road is getting its bathrooms and kitchen back.
Ever since a sewer lateral pipe broke more than five years ago, the building has been without sewer service, forcing Legion members to use port-a-potties on the porch. It’s also left the organization unable to rent the hall out for parties and events, costing it thousands of dollars in revenue.
At the Town Board’s Oct. 9 meeting, the board passed a resolution authorizing the town to enter into an easement agreement with Lake Mahopac Properties, an entity owned by Dave Nicholas, a local developer and landlord who owns the property under which the Legion’s broken sewer lateral lies. The sewer main’s lateral broke in 2013 and needed to be replaced, but Nicholas was reluctant to allow the work to take place because he said it would disturb his parking lot and have a negative impact on the businesses that rent from him. In 2018, Nicholas told Mahopac News he would prefer that the Legion get its own septic system and abandon the town sewer system.
For the past five years, town officials have said their hands were tied because it was a dispute between two private property owners, although Supervisor Ken Schmitt, town attorney Greg Folchetti, and other Town Board members tried on a number of occasions to broker a deal between the two parties but without success.
The agreement ratified last week will allow the town highway department to enter the parking lot next to Putnam Music Center at 609 Route 6 (for which Nicholas is the landlord) so it can access a town-owned stormwater pipe and make repairs. While there, the town will also replace the broken sewer lateral that leads to the Legion Hall, which will restore its sewer service.
The Legion Hall and the roots of this story date back more than 60 years, to a time when that building and neighboring parcels were located on property owned by the now-defunct New York and Putnam Railroad (Old Put). The railroad subdivided that land and sold off the individual parcels. American Legion Post 1080 bought the building that is now the Legion Hall in the 1960s, not realizing that the sewer pipe that goes from Route 6 to its bathrooms also runs under the neighboring property, now owned by Nicholas
In August, the Town Board told Nicholas it needed to get on the property to make repairs to the town-owned pipe and would use eminent domain if necessary. The town filed the eminent domain claim in court. With the specter of losing his property hanging over his head, Nicholas agreed to sit down with the board and hammer out an easement agreement. The Legion and Nicholas had come close to an agreement several times in the past, only to have Nicholas change his mind at the 11th hour.
That’s now no longer an option for Nicholas.
“The agreement has been reached and the easements have been approved,” Schmitt said. “It allows the highway department to go in and make the necessary repairs to the stormwater drainage system and a new sewer lateral (for the Legion) will be installed at the same time. This is good news that it is finally happening.”
According to the agreement, the work must be completed by Nov. 27.
“Highway Superintendent Mike Simone will schedule his crews,” Schmitt said. “We are hopeful to get it done in time, but it is November, so it’s weather-dependent.”