by Dan McClelland
Sold: one slightly used fire station.
The 1950s vintage fire hall on High Street that served the local firefighting volunteers for over 70 years will soon be the property of Hollingsworth Property Holdings after the village board this month agreed to sell it to Contractor Clint Hollingsworth.
The board has been trying to sell the surplus building since earlier this year after it was appraised by a Lake Placid firm for $108,000.
In recent weeks the village board bid out the property for sale again and Mr. Hollingsworth offered $64,000. His earlier bids had been $63,000 and a large pizza.
On its first try in March the village received no takers on the building.
A month or so later after the village again advertised the propertyfor sale, there were three bids submitted. The highest offer came from long time summer resident David Beausoleil who bid $70,100. Clint Hollingsworth of Hollingsworth Carpentry and Renovations LLC bid 63,000 and a large pizza. A third and lowest bid of $30,000 came from Stacked Graphics.
In May the board, in a split vote with Trustees Ron LaScala and Tom Snyder voting against, agreed to sell the property to Mr. Beausoleil.
Some time later the high bidderstepped away from the purchase after an old fuel tank was found inside the building.
At the board's September meeting Mayor Paul Maroun wondered if the village should again offer the building for sale through the bidding process and perhaps lower or eliminate the minimum offer of $72,000.
“Every time we bid (out a property for sale) it doesn't go anywhere!” Deputy Mayor Leon LeBlanc asserted. He was remembering the difficulty the village had when it tried to sell the two parcels that comprised the old downtown trailer court.
At the September meeting the village leaders agreed to give it another try, without the minimum bid, providing that was acceptable to Village Attorney Nathan Race.
Mr. Hollingsworth was the sole bidder this time.
When the new bid of $64,000 was reviewed at the meeting on October 19, it immediately brought a motion from Trustee Ron LaScala, second by David “Haji” Maroun to accept it.
Selling it would get it back on the tax roll, noted Mayor Maroun.
Trustee LaScala took a moment to explain why he was now willing to sell it at a price below the earlier minimum price of $72,000. He said he has spent a considerable amount of time thinking about the sale in past months.
“After speaking to two attorneys recently I learned that you just can't take into consideration a building's market value. We can put a value on a building, but it's only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.”
He said the board has “a duty to come up with a decision” on what it will accept for the surplus building.
“After a recent conversation I had with Mr. Hollingsworth and his plans for the building, I'm 100%” in favor of selling it to him.
The local contractor- who in recent years has grown to be one of the largest contractors in the Tupper Lake area- employs about14 tradesman, and according to Mr. LaScala these people will be coming and going from the new quarters all the time. “That adds value to the neighborhood.”
“So that's why I can now accept the lower offer,” he told his colleagues.
The acceptance of the offer was unanimous that evening.
Mr. Hollingsworth was at Wednesday's planning board meeting to request a special use permit from the planners for his conversion of the fire station into a shop and business office for the company.
He told the planners he will be moving his shop from its present location in Rob Drayse's former Coke plant building on Wawbeek Ave. and his business office from space he currently rents from Dr. Bill Maroun on Lake Street into the new quarters
He said typically the operation there will be from 7a.m. to about 4:30 five or six days a week with occasional evening work.
Most of the work done there will be light fabrication and mostly staining and painting of materials his crew will install on their various construction and renovation projects around the area.
With the new building, he'll bring all his operations under one roof.
Asked by planning board member Shawn Stuart if there would be any storage of materials outdoors, Mr. Hollingsworth replied no since there is no room there. The building pretty much sits on the entire lot.
Asked about any use of the old fire escape stairs next to the building, the contractor said he is currently researching who owns it.
He said he would like to also be able to access the building from Arden Street behind with a new driveway. He also said he would like to see a second access to the second floor from behind the building eventually.
“Will all the noisy work be inside the building?” planning board member Bob Collier asked him.
“Absolutely!” Mr. Hollingsworth assured him, explaining there is no space outside the building where his workmen could work.
“So you won't be building anything there?” asked Mr. Stuart.
“I wouldn't say we will never build anything there, but most of our building is done on site,” where we are working. “Most of it at the new shop will be painting, staining and sanding work there.”
Asked by Mr. Collier if he thought his operation would interfere with any of his neighbors and the applicant said he couldn't imagine how it could.
“The neighbors are happy the siren is gone,” Chairman Jim Larkin said with a grin.
A public hearing on Mr. Hollingsworth's application for a special use permit will be held at the planners next meeting on November 16.
by Dan McClelland