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Developer seeks demolition of Madison Barracks structures in Sackets Harbor

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SACKETS HARBOR — The future of the theater and mess hall buildings at the Madison Barracks complex remain in doubt as the village’s Planning Board will consider a proposal next week from Lawler Realty to demolish them.

Lawler has owned the brick buildings, at 117 and 123 Pike Road, since January 2011.

The military developed the buildings in the late 1800s and abandoned them toward the end of World War II.

In its application to the village Planning Board, the developer wrote the buildings have been abandoned for 66 years, though the theater building has hosted some small community events in the past five years.

The developer described the property as functionally and economically obsolete. Among the functional problems the developer cited are inadequate and exposed wiring and plumbing, out-of-date equipment and faulty design. Lawler also called the property obsolete because of a reduction in property demand and “failure to adhere to the principal of the highest and best use.”

Michael A. Lawler, in a phone interview Thursday afternoon, said he would like to save the buildings but estimated the repairs would cost from $8 million to $10 million.

“What kind of use are you going to get to get that return of investment?” he asked.

The application lists no plans for redeveloping the sites. Those sites are zoned to allow commercial and residential uses. Asked if the property could be sold to someone else to develop it, Mr. Lawler said “nobody in their right mind would pay 10 cents for this.”

He said his options for the building were “either I knock it down, Mother Nature tears it down or somebody comes up with money to do something with it.”

On Wednesday night, village Planning Board members toured the buildings with Michael W. Campbell, a developer’s representative.

A reporter’s request to join the tour was denied; Planning Board Chairman Gary M. Gibson cited potential liability for the village if an injury occurred.

Mr. Gibson could not be reached Thursday to discuss the buildings’ condition.

At the village Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night, Mayor F. Eric Constance voiced skepticism about the need to destroy the buildings, telling Mr. Gibson he hoped the Planning Board would consider that although money may not be available today for renovations, it did not mean that money would not be available in the future.

The Planning Board will discuss the potential demolition at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the village office.

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