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Village to consider options for sale of old fire station

Dan McClelland

by Dan McClelland
Fire Chief Carl Steffen announced last week in his report to the village board that there were no bidders when the village re-advertised for buyers on the old High Street fire station, and he looked to the board for guidance what to do next.
Bids were opened on April 16.
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 property at for 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 Construction 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.
The village recently had the building appraised by a Lake Placid appraiser who put its worth at $108,000.“Ron (LaScala) and I have already talked about it.  What is the board's pleasure?” Mayor Paul Maroun asked at that point as the discussion began.He 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.
He said, in the first place, he thought the minimum bid was too high.
“Just open it up (to offers)...I think the floor is too high!”
Mr. LeBlanc said the board's experience with the bidding of the junction parcels should have been a lesson for the it..  “We kept lowering (the minimum bid) until we broke even!”
“Should be set a new floor (minimum bid)?” the mayor pressed him.
“Put it out (for bid) and see what happens!” Trustee LeBlanc replied.
Trustee David “Haji” Maroun suggested listing the building with a local broker, instead of bidding it out again.
Village Clerk Mary Casagrain said that initially the bid advertisement was only placed in the hometown weekly.  “We could try advertising farther out” of the area, she suggested.
Trustee Ron LaScala said he understood Mr. LeBlanc's reasoning, but he said Village Attorney Nathan Race “had been very specific” about the need for the board to get a fair price for the surplus building.
He said he didn't think the building was worth what its assessment is ($112,000) or what the appraiser estimated ($108,500).
Mr. LaScala said he was willing to entertain a lower minimum bid.  “But I just want to make sure we're doing the right legal thing!”
“If we get an opinion from our attorney, would you be willing (to sell it for less)?” the mayor asked the trustee.
Mr. LaScala replied that he would be willing.
Trustee Tom Snyder said he would like “to repurpose the building” to benefit the community.
He estimated that if the building was sold for $70,000 it would only generate about $800 a year in village taxes, plus or minus.
“I'd like to see it used in a better fashion” than it now is.  He proposed it couldbe converted to apartments, into a new food pantry, any number of good things here.
“Who would maintain it” if it stayed in village ownership? the mayor asked him.
“We can figure that out...there's a lot of things we could do with it- and again, you're not talking about a lot of tax money (generated)!” stated Trustee Snyder.
Mayor Maroun said he would confer with the village attorney and get his advice.
Village Clerk Mary Casagrain said she was trying to get a special meeting together as early as this week for the board to consider its future course of action, with regard to the fate of the old building.
One of the options before the board is to renegotiate a sales price with the highest bidder, which in this case would be Hollingsworth Construction, since Mr. Beausoleil stepped away from the offer process.
In a related matter at last week's meeting, Code Enforcement Officer Pete Edwards said that the environmental firm that found and removed the old oil tank in the fire station had recently returned to town to remove the “old tank scum”  in a 55-gallon barrel and transfered it off site.