PUTNAM POSTING: Enabling Downtown Revitalization In Mahopac

Jennifer Maher | April 2018

Last week the town of Carmel purchased a lakefront lot on Lake Mahopac, an opportunity that could not be passed up and perhaps should have been undertaken a long time ago. Many feel the town made a hasty decision and over paid. According to Nicole Stern, Mike Barile purchased the property 20 years ago for $500,000. When one of the partners died, Stern bought into the partnership, with the amount on the deed showing as $100,000. This number only reflects a portion of what was paid into the partnership and randomly applied to Swan Cove. The property was then sold to Frank Cotaj for $775,000. Cotaj then got approvals for 10 condominiums, which was roughly $150,000 in bonding and permitting plus two years of taxes.

The value of the land with approvals for 10 condominiums would have greatly increased the value and also made Cotaj want and need the town to make a quick decision on the purchase. The fact, too, is that the town hesitated in the past and missed opportunities for more affordable land suitable for the additional, much needed parking in the hamlet. Some also feel due diligence was not performed by the town prior to the purchase. As a former owner having a seat on the town board, Barile would have had records and knowledge of the property and any environmental concerns and hopefully the board was all up to speed in what engineering, environmental and drainage issues the property has.

With the town purchase, instead of having condominiums blocking the view of the lake, the public will be able to enjoy unobstructed vistas. The adjacent Chamber Park currently attracts a few folks and children using the playground. The new park (nearly 200 feet of additional lake frontage) and parking lot should be a draw to people further away who will shop, dine and spend time in the area. People may bicycle in from Westchester County to enjoy a couple of hours in the Hamlet of Mahopac. Perhaps there will finally be public access to the lake for kayaks, swimming and fishing? Hopefully the town will have picnic tables and benches so the sunrise and sunsets can be enjoyed by many. A complete effort will add wider sidewalks, attractive lighting, and parallel instead of diagonal parking on Route 6N, making the Mahopac hamlet a true destination.

Yes, this was a very bold, risky and progressive move by the town, that does not have a ton of room for error, but hopefully they will seek input from the public on what the park can be used for and for just a five-year assessment of $16 per taxpayer annually this purchase will provide a free park with public access to enjoy the beauty of Lake Mahopac, parking to support the business community and will make our community more desirable to visitors with money to spend.

The public is rightly paying attention, and despite the considerable controversy I believe, if done right, this will be a good thing for our community.

Jennifer Maher
Jennifer Maher served as the 2015 vice president of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors and currently serves as the vice president of the Hudson Valley Chapter of the New York State Commercial Association of Realtors and as chairwoman of the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce.