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West Carthage board mulls granting permission for tree tapping

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WEST CARTHAGE — Mayor Scott M. Burto revisited the issue of allowing maple trees on village property to be tapped during the village Board of Trustees meeting Monday night.

Adam Smith inquired about tapping the maple trees in the village-owned area between the sidewalk and road at the Nov. 13 board meeting.

The mayor said Monday he researched the matter and according to village attorney Lawrence D. Hasseler, it would be allowable if the person tapping had insurance and paid the village or offered in-kind services.

With that knowledge, Mr. Burto said he would be in favor of the proposal.

Trustee Scott J. Sullivan also voiced support “as long as it’s not illegal.” The board tabled it because Trustee David Z. Rounds opposed it and the other trustees, Robert J. Peluso and Michael J. Bigness, were absent.

“I’m completely against it,” Mr. Rounds said. “We’re heading for big trouble down the road.”

If tree tapping is approved, allowing it to occur would have to go out to bid, the mayor said, because sap could be considered village property.

Mr. Smith said after the meeting that three years ago, former Trustee Gerald A. Caldwell Jr. gave him permission to tap. He tapped again last year but said he was then told it was not permissible. According to Mr. Smith, after Mr. Caldwell’s death, the board said Mr. Caldwell did not have the authority to allow it and because Mr. Smith is a village Department of Public Works employee it was inappropriate. Since last spring, Mr. Smith said, he has been pursuing official permission to harvest the sap.

Mr. Smith, a New York State Maple Producers member, has a sugar shanty at his Lathrop Street home that produces about 15 gallons of syrup annually.

“Graciously, village residents have allowed me to tap trees and I give them syrup in thanks,” said Mr. Smith, a SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry graduate. “I’m never going to see a profit. I not looking for a profit. I’m not in it for the money. It’s a hobby and I do it for educational purposes.”

Having made syrup most of his life, Mr. Smith said he opens his shanty to the public and teaches children how syrup is made.

He added he would like to do more, such as provide a free pancake breakfast with his product for senior citizens in the village’s housing units, but “can’t get over the hurdle of tapping trees to have the opportunity to go to the next step.”

Mr. Smith added at the meeting that in five years or so, it would be a moot point because the village is cutting down the maple trees each year.

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