County abandons foreclosures

JOHNSTOWN — Fulton County has decided not to foreclose on two city of Gloversville properties because they represent costly “potential environmental hazards,” according to county Treasurer Terry Blodgett.

The Board of Supervisors voted Thursday at the County Office Building to file certificates of withdrawal, cancellations and prospective cancellation regarding the properties. The properties are at 93 and 102 S. Main St. in Gloversville.

Separate resolutions passed by the board indicate Blodgett reviewed the two delinquent tax parcels. The resolutions say his opinion is the properties “should not be foreclosed upon due to existing environmental concerns and should be withdrawn from any tax foreclosure proceedings.”

Fulton County government has been working for years with the city of Gloversville with Operation Green Scene. The program involves assessing tax delinquent properties, proposing some for county auction, and razing some with the help of the county Demolition Team.

Thursday’s resolutions indicate that in order to “protect the county from environmental and/or financial liability” related to the South Main Street parcels, the certificates had to be filed.

Certificates are being filed with the county Real Property Tax Services Agency, County Clerk’s Office and Gloversville Assessor’s Office.

The property at 102 S. Main St. — the former Nethaway building — owes $19,113 in back county, school and city taxes. The four-story, 28,500-square-foot building was built in 1910.

The property at 93 S. Main St. — the former Quinn’s Boxes building — owes $11,176 in back county, school and city taxes. The two-story, 6,700-square-foot building was built in 1859.

Gloversville 2nd Ward Supervisor Frank Lauria Jr. said he’s reviewed the two city buildings, and a crane is needed to bring them down.

“When I went by these two buildings, it’s so big the county can’t bring them down,” he said.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said the two South Main Street buildings — large, aging commercial structures — represent a “quagmire” for municipalities to deal with. He said what’s needed is an influx of building rehabilitation grant money.

Stead said it is a “shame” owners of such structures can walk away and leave such buildings for municipalities to clean up.

Lauria, a former Gloversville councilman, said his city years ago hired a lawyer to go after owners of the former Liberty Leather building to tear it down.

“I would advise we go that route,” Lauria said.

Gloversville 1st Ward Supervisor Marie Born said the problem is such buildings are “old to start with.” She said they are probably never going to be reused as modern useable buildings. She said the demolition team also can’t take them down.

“We’ve got to tap every source we can for grant money,” Born said.

Stead noted that the South Main Street properties are within the vicinity of the proposed Burr Street redevelopment area in Gloversville.

That urban renewal effort reportedly called for demolition of 50 structures to create affordable housing. Other streets in that area include Mill, Beaver, Park, Forest and East Pine streets. About 95 percent of the buildings in that area were built before 1939 and include lead and asbestos.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.

COMMENTS