MASSENA Village officials soon will consider demolition of two vacant structures, and a third could follow.
Gregory C. Fregoe, code enforcement officer, will present two reports to the village Board of Trustees at its Tuesday meeting. One will recommend the demolition of former Homestead Dairy store building at 106 W. Hatfield St., while the other will urge removal of a building foundation at 43 Spruce St.
The owner of the Spruce Street parcel tore down a house there and had promised to rebuild a couple of years ago, but a foundation has remained there, Mr. Fregoe said.
Why should the neighbors have to look at a blue tarp on top of this foundation? We gave this guy time, Mr. Fregoe said.
The Homestead Dairy buildings front paneling and lettering is falling off, and the structure is deteriorating, Mr. Fregoe said. Its in terrible shape, he said.
Robert B. Squires, former president of Homestead Dairy, said he closed the West Hatfield store in 2001 and briefly rented it out to another retailer in 2005. It has remained vacant since.
Homestead, which once operated several stores and a Massena plant, is now in bankruptcy, he said.
I assume the county is going to take (the building) this fall, Mr. Squires said. We couldnt afford the taxes, so we walked away from it.
Mr. Fregoe said that at the request of Mayor James F. Hidy, he may recommend demolition at 68 Water St., which was damaged in a 2008 fire.
My little part is to make the report and get it to the village board. I start the ball rolling, Mr. Fregoe said. We dont live in Russia; we cant just go in and tear something down. Thats peoples property. Theres a procedure, however long it takes.
After Mr. Fregoe submits his report, trustees then can schedule a hearing, to which the owner of the dilapidated building is invited. The board also can retain an engineer to provide an expert opinion on whether a building is structurally sound.
After the hearing, the board can vote to require the owner to repair or demolish the structure. If the owner doesnt do so within a certain period of time, the village can act itself and bill the owner for the expenses.
Mr. Fregoe said the instances of demolition proceedings in Massena are likely to rise as the number of vacant and deteriorating properties escalates. There are more than 10 vacant homes and a handful of abandoned businesses, he said.
Mr. Hidy said it is hoped the village avoids a repeat of the Slavins demolition debacle of 2010. The village was unable to track down the owner of the crumbling former furniture and jewelry stores on Water Street and ultimately had to finance the demolition through a $320,000 multiyear bond.
We cant afford to do that, nor should we undertake something like that again, Mr. Hidy said. We have to address the issues while theyre in the hands of the property owners.
The quality of life code-violation tickets the village has issued recently are meant to deter light problems while they are small. That way, a building wont deteriorate to the point where trustees have to order its demolition, Mr. Hidy said.
Were trying to bring the neighborhoods back into compliancy and back into some shape again, he said. The whole community has been decaying for a while, and weve got to bring it back.