Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell
Westport Supervisor Dan Connell said the time has come to pay the piper at the Essex County Fairgrounds.
During a discussion on rentals on the fairgrounds during the Dec. 17 DPW Committee meeting, Connell said he was prepared to turn the lights and water off in the horse barns because the stall rentals were not being paid.
“We have people in there that are not paying, and the county should not be paying for their electricity and their water,” Connell said. “I am making a strong recommendation to shut the water and the electricity off to the race horse barns. I have told Tony not to plow the track. The county attorney is working to go through the courts to get the money that is owned to us.”
Connell said that there are currently 17 horses that are housed in the county stalls and that the horses are trained by the same family.
“There are three people, all in the same family,” Connell said. “They have all of the horses. They do not own them all. They are getting paid for training; they are just not turning the stall rent over to us as they are getting paid.”
County Attorney Dan Manning said that legal avenues are already being pursued.
“The initial paperwork is all ready to go,” Manning said. “The owner said that he will come in Jan. 19 to pay. If they do not come in, we will file paperwork in the town court where he lives. I don't see that they have any defenses. Within a month, we would have an order of eviction.”
Connell said that he would wait until the Jan. 19 date to shut the utilities off, but that he wanted to end this issue as soon as possible.
Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret Bartley was concerned about the treatment of the horses if the power and water were shut off.
“If we shut off the water, are the people going to move them?” Bartley asked. “People who do not pay their bills often do not take care of their animals.”
“I will suggest to the sheriff that he go through the barns after we shut off the water and electricity and if they do not take care of the animals and leave them there, then we will take the appropriate action,” Connell replied.
Connell also talked about the rental of storage for boats and other items at the fairgrounds.
“In that new barn that we built, there is only one spot still available,” Connell said. “We need to build these barns now so that they are specifically built for winter storage.”
“If there is strong demand for storage space, does it make more sense to eliminate the horse stalls or convert them to some type of cold storage space?” North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi asked.
“The storage that people are looking for is boats, campers and cars,” Connell said. “We are open to all suggestions. We want to increase income there. Storage is a lot easier then events. It is how 90 percent of the fairs survive is through winter storage.”