Pair of properties may be demolished

GLOVERSVILLE – County officials are considering action with 11 abandoned properties in the city, including two that may be slated for demolition.

The Fulton County Board of Supervisors will vote Monday on whether to add homes at 35 Eagle St. and 60 Prospect Ave. to the county Solid Waste Department’s demolition list, as well as end its effort to foreclose on two former commercial buildings – 70 Division St. and 5 Hill St. – that could pose an environmental liability.

The supervisors’ Finance Committee approved those measures but held off on a plan to offer seven vacant parcels in the city to neighbors for $1 so they can be returned the tax rolls.

Instead, county officials will wait until after a meeting with the city’s Housing & Neighborhood Improvement Corp., which may have an interest in the parcels.

If approved by supervisors, the two homes’ demolitions would be part of Operation Green Scene, a 9-year-old program to demolish tax-foreclosed buildings in Gloversville that do not sell at public auction.

The inclusion of a home on Prospect Avenue, one of the city’s nicest streets, caught some Finance Committee members off guard, but 4th Ward Supervisor and board Chairman Charles Potter confirmed the property is in rough shape.

“It’s a dump,” he said.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead, who is part of the team that reviews properties for demolition, said tearing down one blighted house in a nice neighborhood can help encourage neighbors keep their homes from falling into disrepair.

“Sometimes, if you can take care of that one, the neighbors will take care of the rest, and then business will develop around that,” he told supervisors.

But the city won’t be demolishing the two former commercial buildings it’s been trying to foreclose on. Instead, Blodgett asked supervisors to allow him to back out of foreclosure plans and file certificates of withdrawal, cancellation and prospective cancellation – legal documents that would remove the properties from the tax rolls but won’t leave the county with any liability.

The 18,500-square-foot former Ultimate Leather factory on Division Street “is a monster of a building” Blodgett said, noting demolition would be difficult for the county crew.

The 4,600-square-foot building on Hill Street is an eyesore but not posing any problems, Stead said.

“But we don’t know about environmental issues, and we don’t want to get into the chain of custody,” he added.

Both properties are more than $10,000 behind in taxes, Blodgett said.

Blodgett also asked supervisors to allow him to offer nine vacant pieces of property in the county – seven in Gloversville, one in Johnstown, one in Stratford – to neighboring property owners for $1 and real property filing fees.

But the committee asked him to wait on selling the Gloversville lots because they may be of interest to Housing & Neighborhood Improvement Corp.

“They’re working on plans trying to approach vacant lots on a more systematic basis,” Stead said.

The properties include a 40-foot by 150-foot lot on Burr Street, an area Stead says is central to the neighborhood improvement effort. Other properties include a 100-foot by 132-foot landlocked lot on Spring Street and smaller lots on Washington Street, Kent Street, Forest Street, Second Street and Belmont Avenue, which is a considered a paper street.

“I appreciate that they’re willing to wait,” Mayor Dayton King said Monday. “Ideally, neighbors can get first crack at the property, but working with the corporation could be a good thing.”

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