COPAKE—Sorry Sal, no road for you.
The Town Board voted unanimously not to hand over ownership of Lackawanna Road to Salvatore Cascino at its November 8 meeting.
Last month the Town Board received a letter dated September 26 from Mr. Cascino which said he had been approached by Town Highway Superintendent Bill Gregory asking him if he would like the town to “relinquish… its right of passage on Lackawanna Road…”
Mr. Cascino, 78, of Larchmont, Westchester County, is a convicted felon who has spent the past 20 years amassing violations of federal, state and town laws for illegal dumping, building, paving and excavating at a place he calls Copake Valley Farm, along the east side of State Route 22.
Less than a mile long, Lackawanna Road is a town-owned road that runs between Weed Mine Road on the east end and State Route 22 on the west. Mr. Cascino owns the land on both sides of the road.
In his letter, Mr. Cascino went on to say that if the town gave up “its right of passage,” Lackawanna would become “a completely private road… closed to the public and I would be responsible for all repairs and maintenance.”
Mr. Cascino said, “I would be in favor of the idea and am willing to work with the town to see it through should you wish to do so.”
At the November meeting Councilman Richard Wolf recapped the Cascino letter and said he did not read it as a request.
Contrary to Mr. Cascino’s assertion that Highway Superintendent Gregory had initiated the exchange, it was revealed at the October board meeting that Mr. Gregory had gone to Lackawanna Road to inspect some unauthorized paving work, which infringed in the town’s right of way, when he was approached by Mr. Cascino who suggested that the town give him the road.
“Bill [Gregory] did not float the idea. There is no request before the board,” said Mr. Wolf, who introduced a motion that the Town Board declare it has no intention of doing anything to benefit Mr. Cascino.
The Town is currently involved in a lawsuit against Mr. Cascino, who has been found guilty of contempt of court for not abiding by a judge’s decision to comply with court orders to remove 9,650 cubic yards of illegally dumped solid waste as he was directed to do (among other things) in a February 25, 2016 decision. Mr. Cascino is currently appealing the decision.
Also, it came to light last month that Mr. Cascino took it upon himself to close Lackawanna Road for two months while his contractors worked to remedy violations for which he was cited by the state Department of Transportation.
Councilman Stanley “Stosh” Gansowski who lives on Weed Mine Road at the Lackawanna Road intersection, said many people use the road, no one wants the road closed. He said Mr. Cascino’s closure of the road without notification to the fire company or rescue squad “left people in harm’s way.”
Mr. Gansowski “gladly” seconded Mr. Wolf’s motion.
Councilwoman and Deputy Supervisor Kelly Miller-Simmons, who ran the meeting in the absence of Supervisor Jeff Nayer, said she agreed with the motion.
Councilwoman Jeanne Mettler said the town should not give Mr. Cascino the road, “if for no other reason than he closed off a town road!”
Town Attorney Ken Dow noted, “The Town Board cannot give away a road, even if you want to.”
In other business, the board:
*Heard from Deputy Supervisor Miller-Simmons that the town received a third-quarter sales tax check for $199,673.27, that amount is up by 7.5%, or $14,022.12, more than the third-quarter last year
*Heard from Councilwoman Mettler that the Citizen’s Advisory Committee on the rehab of County Route 7A has met with Columbia County Department of Public Works Engineering Division Director Dean Knox and is beginning its work. She also reported Copake Community Service Inc. is sponsoring the Adopt-A-Tree program again this year. People can donate $30 to adopt a tree and dedicate it. About 27 lighted holiday trees will be placed throughout the hamlet on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Those interested should stop by the general store or see the town clerk
*Heard from Councilman Gansowski that the children’s Halloween Party/Costume Contest at the Copake Park Building was “a great time,” and the Witches of Roe Jan appeared and “did a little dance.”
The next Town Board meeting is December 13, beginning with a public hearing at 6:50 p.m. on Local Law #5 entitled “A Local Law Authorizing the Planning Board to Approve Lot Mergers.”
To contact Diane Valden email