Gloversville seeks demo costs for 24 Alexander St.

Gloversville City Hall
Article Audio:

GLOVERSVILLE – The city of Gloversville will seek to recover the $38,525 cost of demolishing 24 Alexander St. from the property owner’s insurance, in another example of the city’s ‘War on Blight” policies.

The two-family home was destroyed by a four-alarm structure fire on Jan. 7, after its five occupants were evacuated without injury. Fire Chief Tom Groff said the building was deemed a total loss and taken down by the city’s demolition team shortly thereafter.

“We had to tear the building down because it was unsafe, and we will charge the property owner, but he has insurance, and the insurance company will pay us before they give him any of the remaining proceeds,” Groff said. “They will pay us for the demo, and he’ll get whatever’s left. We were going to take it down anyway, but the insurance will help (with the cost.)”

The Common Council on Feb. 14 voted 7-0 to approve a budget transfer of $38,525 from the city’s “Fire – Demolition of Dangerous Buildings” account to pay the demolition costs associated with 24 Alexander St.

“There’s a process through (New York state’s regulation of insurance policies) where we get put on a list, and we claim rights to (the insurance) money, because we have to incur an expense, because the house had a fire and had to be torn down,” Groff said. “We try to do this when there’s insurance, and we have to take a building down. We don’t take every building down, some of them can be repaired, and I’d rather see a house repaired, if we can stop a fire, but there are times when we (can’t do that). Like in this case, the fire had such a head start, we were behind the eight-ball, and we lost the roof and the attic, and it was a lot of damage.”

Groff said the city’s new policy of swiftly demolishing unsafe fire-damaged buildings is meant to enhance public safety, as well as help the city’s neighborhoods from having eye-sore properties linger for years in a way that damage home values.

“If you remember back to that 14 Temple St., that house sat there for three years and it was basically a destroyed mess, and it’s bad for the neighborhood,” Groff said. “Now, we have a process in place where we try to clean up the neighborhood and get rid of the house, and insurance should pay for the demo. It’s not the city taxpayer’s fault that somebody had a fire.”

The long-running controversy connected to 14 Temple St., where a two-family home was badly damaged by fire after the building was struck by lightning on July 3, 2014, has been referenced by city officials as part of the origin for the new policy of faster demolitions. In the case of 14 Temple St., after the previous owner abandoned the property following the fire, the property was then purchased by Connie Duncan of Wheatley Heights, Suffolk County, for $2,200 in May 2015, greatly complicating and delaying the efforts of the city and county government to demolish the blighted structure.

County property records show 24 Alexander St. is currently owned by Joseph J. Molnar Sr., who purchased it on Sept. 1, 2006 from Jeffrey S. Carentz for $55,400.

The property had a history of short-term owners leading up to Molnar’s purchase. Carentz had bought it from Dawn M. Serge on May 18, 2005 for $54,000. Serge had purchased it on Aug. 5, 1999 for $1 from Marie Serge Warren, who had purchased it the previous day on Aug. 4, 1999 for $1 from Albert George Warren.

Prior to the fire 24 Alexander St. had a property tax assessment value of $50,800 for 2022.

Molnar did not respond to a social media request for comment for this story, and a phone call to his most recent phone number listed in the white pages reached a disconnected line.

By Jason Subik

Leave a Reply