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Building Blocks Day Care $220k loan written off by village of Potsdam


POTSDAM — A Potsdam couple says the recent decision by the village Board of Trustees to write off a nearly quarter-million-dollar loan to Building Blocks Day Care is further proof that the project never should have been backed by local government funding.

One year after the end of a 20-year relationship with the business, the village has officially written off the group’s loan of $220,426.

In May, the Potsdam Central School District took over the former day care center, which operated on its campus behind A.A. Kingston Middle School.

The move came after the termination of the two-decade lease between the day care center and the school district.

With the write-off, the Planning and Development Department will be able to remove the loan from its accounts.

“Based on state education law, they had a lease term of 20 years, so after 20 they had to vacate the premises. They did that a year ago, and the village was owed $220,000,” Potsdam Planning and Development Director Frederick J. Hanss said. “When the village forgave the loan, all was good. The next step was removing the records from the book, and that happened,” last week.

Building Blocks Day Care operated in the building since it was built in 1993.

The day care center’s inability to pay “fair market value” for the property and the school’s relationship with the facility have long drawn the ire of Richard A. and Jane A. Hollister. The couple claimed that for two decades Building Blocks was unable to keep up with its loan payments.

“We’ve had some issues as far as subsidizing the corporation. If you look at the details of it, in 2009 the village decided that the group did not have to pay the interest. So if you look at it, the total loss was around $390,000 for the taxpayers,” Mr. Hollister said. “In 2009, the village wrote off the interest on the loan and recently they wrote off the loan for $220,000.”

“It’s important to keep in mind that these funds were supposed to go to other people with small businesses. It’s very sad for the community that they decided to do nothing about it and let it go for 20 years,” he said.

“The day care was never able to keep up with their payments from the very beginning,” Mrs. Hollister said. “As a result, a total of a little over $390,000 is just gone, and that should have been to benefit other corporations in the village of Potsdam. It was poorly conceived.”

Discussions regarding renovations of the former day care building have taken place, and there is a tentative plan for the building to be used as classroom space for the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Despite their issues with how the situation was dealt with in the past, the couple is happy with what is planned for the building.

“I’m glad the school is now focusing their efforts on education,” Mrs. Hollister said.

Construction of that structure was paid for using grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as other funds administered through the Potsdam Planning and Development Office.

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