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Village wants more info on East Orvis Street property purchase request

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MASSENA - The village of Massena is seeking more information about a lease/purchase property request for land directly across from Baxter’s One Stop Automotive on East Orvis Street.

Massena Mayor James F. Hidy explained that he recently received a letter from the auto shop’s operator, Michael Baxter, asking that he be able to acquire the property.

“He would install lighting, gravel and whatever is necessary to meet the zoning regulations, and he would maintain the property as well,” he said. “I asked (Assessor Michael Ward) to establish who owns the facility that Mr. Baxter works out of and it’s owned by Deborah Kearns, who owns the motel next door as well. Being that the gentleman doesn’t own that facility - if his business were to for whatever reason close - again we’re left with that property across the street that had been paved, crush stoned or whatever.”

Michael and Jessica Baxter have been doing automobile repairs at the location for over two years and in October, received approval to being selling used cars there.

Mr. Baxter said in the fall that they currently have a lease with an option and after five years they will decide whether to buy the property.

Mr. Hidy said that ownership of the land was not his only concern with the request. “I’d also heard rumbling that perhaps one day soap box derby would utilize that property as their track,” he said.

Trustee Francis J. Carvel raised the issue of whether the property was designated as a village park.

“I know they call it the East Orvis Street Park but I wonder if it has ever been designated as a park,” he said. “If it’s a park, we would have to have New York state approval in order to sell it I believe.”

“I don’t have a problem with doing it, just come back with some more information,” Trustee Timothy J. Ahlfeld said.

He quipped he didn’t recall sunbathers frequenting the park located above the village’s sewer plant. Mr. Carvel pointed out the village-owned property is located outside the village limits so any zoning or planning issues with the proposal would be referred to town officials,

Mr. Hidy agreed with Mr. Ahlfeld’s suggestion that the sale of the property seemed to make good sense but also reiterated his concerns about the future of the land, should Mr. Baxter go out of business.

“I hope he’s there forever and it’s a family business forever. The problem I see is that once this gentleman leaves or his business is no longer a business, then we have this across the street. Now what do we do with it?” he asked. “Whether it’s a park, whether it’s a soap box derby, I see where you’re coming from. I absolutely agree.”

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