By Deb Patterson
Syracuse town officials can no longer say they do not own the water control device, often referred to as the Turkey Creek dam.
Deeds relating to the sale of the property currently known as Crosson Mill Park have been found. The town of Syracuse owns the park property, the water control device (referred to at that time as the dam), the mill race and the banks. The deed is dated July 16, 1923.
It was an extensive search by Metropolitan Title, Syracuse-Warsaw, who was asked to search for the title by WPOA board member Steve Snyder. The information was located early last week and town officials were made aware of the findings late last week. Copies of the findings were emailed to Vern Landis, town attorney.
Snyder explained any time a person goes back that far (referring to the 1920s), especially with deeds to a municipality, “there was no tax parcel number assigned because there was no tax due on it because it was owned by the town. So it’s much more difficult to search. But there are ways to do it.”
This is why he asked Metropolitan to conduct the search because it has the old Bodkin Title Plant. “I think that is the only really full term title plant in the county and that’s how they were able to find it,” said Snyder.
The deed, from the Syracuse Water Power Company to the town of Syracuse, details the tracts being sold to the town. There is also a paragraph that states “Together with the mill race, dams, embankments, water power rights, privileges and all incidents thereto, to which the said granter herein and the granters of the said granter, were entitled and in possession of, with respect to the water power of said above described premises. The grantee herein agrees to maintain a stage of water in Syracuse and Wawasee Lakes, as near as possible as had been maintained in the past 20 years by the said granter herein.”
The finding of the deed coincides with town council minutes in 1921 in which the town agreed to purchase the property and facilities for $4,000.
Bill Pipp, a member of a committee spearheading funding and creation of a conservancy, stated not only was the 1923 deed found, but also the deed transferring the property from Crosson-Mill to the Syracuse Water Power Company.
Pipp met with two council members, Larry Martindale and Bill Musser along with town manager Mike Noe, last week, where all the facts were presented, including the proof the town does and has owned the structure. Pipp was under the impression once the information is presented to the entire council, plans will begin to move forward.
He noted more than $200,000 has been raised privately for repair of the embankments upstream of the device and approval of funds and awarding of bids is expected from the county drainage board in the next few weeks for work downstream.
“We are looking for the city to contribute one-half of the costs,” Pipp said, anticipated as being part of the council’s discussion. “Once they say we are good to go, sign the permits, the process can begin.”
In the meantime signatures continue to be sought for the formation of a conservancy district to secure funds for future water control and dike repairs. Approximately 360 total signatures are needed. Following the first main event for property owners, the WPOA/SLA breakfast Saturday, June 22, nearly 175 signatures have been obtained.
“It was a fairly successful day,” Pipp said about Saturday. “It was a good start. We had zero people against it. Nobody said they wouldn’t sign it.”
An executive session of Syracuse Town Council members is expected to be called this week following new developments in the ownership of the water control device. The executive session has been called for 5 p.m. Thursday, June 27.