City rejects property sale

Pictured is 9-21 Hoosac St. in Johnstown. The Common Council rejected a $1,000 offer for the plot. (Source: Johnstown City tax map website)

JOHNSTOWN — A public speaker at the Common Council’s meeting Monday night criticized city officials for rejecting his offer to buy city property, but officials said his offer was too low.

Prior to the council acting on the sale resolution Monday at City Hall, speaker Jason Hammer of 101 Prindle Ave. spoke about the pending rejection.

He had formally offered the city $1,000 to purchase city-owned property at 9-21 Hoosac Street.

Hammer, who told the council he owns property in all four wards of the city, said he first expressed interest last summer in the Hoosac Street property. He said he wrote a letter Feb. 10 to Mayor Vern Jackson. He said he made “29 different contacts” with city officials since last year, and have had either little or no response.

Hammer told the council he is “no longer interested” in acquiring city properties.

After Hammer had left the meeting, and during the discussion on his proposal, Jackson said Hammer’s original offer on the Hoosac Street property was “misplaced.”

“I believe this is being rejected because I believe this property is worth a lot more than $1,000,” the mayor said.

The property is less than a quarter of an acre and was assessed in 2015 at $15,000, according to the city of Johnstown tax map.

City Assessor Tina Dimitriadis said she did confer with Hammer about his offer.

City Fire Chief Bruce Heberer, city code enforcement officer, said that city officials are not “incompetent just because you don’t get the answer you like.” He said this hasn’t been the only city property offer to be rejected over the years. He said “you can’t give away money for free.”

“There’s a lot of money in [delinquent] taxes we ate to make that property whole,” Heberer said.

Third Ward Councilwoman Helen Martin also said Hammer never came forward with a concrete plan for the Hoosac Street property.

The council voted to reject Hammer’s offer. The council also authorized, pursuant to the Johnstown City Charter, that the property may be offered for private sale in the future.

Council members last April rejected 21 property bids on city-owned properties that were opened March 11, 2016. No reason was given at the time by city officials for rejection at the time. Seventeen of the 21 bids were from Jason and Pamela Hammer and each of their bid prices were $300.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Patricia Older

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