Essex County Board of Supervisors
Essex County officials wrapped up the last of their three task force meetings to determine the fate of the former Frontier Town property in North Hudson on Monday, March 3.
After a series of sprawling, cyclical discussions that rehashed the arguments that have characterized the talks — namely how to subdivide the plots, if the state should get involved and what uses the property might have after conducting a series of assessments and feasibility studies — North Elba town supervisor Roby Politi cut to the core:
“We need to get rid of it,” he said, calling possible state grants to explore future uses for the long-derelict 120 acres, “a wonderful pipe dream,” that would only spin the IDA’s wheels for two years and waste their time.
“It’s not an easy decision,” he told the task force. “But we either have to get rid of it now or get rid of it later.”
The tentative plan, said Essex County treasurer Michael Diskin, is to package four out of the seven parcels to auction as one package; another two will be bundled together and the others will be auctioned off separately.
“The package with four includes the former Frontier lot itself,” said Diskin. “The minimum reserve will be whatever taxes are owed on those properties.”
Diskin said $146,700 will be owed by the tentative auction date on April 30.
Hypothetically, according to officials, interested parties could bid whatever they wanted on the other properties including the gas station, which according to North Hudson supervisor Ron Moore has solicited two inquiries by a prospective buyer who claimed they could have the facility up and running by Memorial Day.
Moore said if the county didn’t get an acceptable bid on the four-parcel lot, he surmises the board wouldn’t have a problem offering it to North Hudson for the minimum reserve.
The North Hudson town board would then have to approve the purchase.
The current owners have 14 days prior to the auction to reclaim the property, said county attorney Daniel Manning. He said his office will attempt to contact them through the proper legal channels.
The county tax auction is scheduled for April 30 andwill sell off approximately 150 county-seized properties whose property taxes haven’t been paid since 2006.
The sale will cover properties from 2006, 2007 and 2008 and yet-to-be-determined number from 2009, said Manning.
“Somewhere in the neighborhood of 60, but we’re not sure yet.”
The Frontier Town parcels contain decayed and unusable infrastructure and are rumored to contain squatters, said officials. It is unclear how the property provided their water and sewer lines, making environmental concerns another knot to untangle in the run-up to the sale.
The exception is the so-called “A-Frame” entrance building, owned by Keeseville resident George Moore. Taxes on that property have been paid to date.
Also on deck is the county-owned Republic Steel building in Moriah and the adjoining former health center, which is owned by the town.
Moriah town supervisor Tom Scozzafava said it might be useful to bind the two properties together if it will make them more saleable.
“The views are spectacular and the infrastructure is there, sewer, water and power,” he said. “It might be enticing to lump the two together to meet future housing needs.”
The county last held a tax sale in 2006 and aims to hold another this fall for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 properties. Afterwards, officials hope they can maintain a regular annual schedule.
“We’re right where we should be,” said Diskin on the timeline for April’s sale.