Board balks at demolition plan

JOHNSTOWN – The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Monday tabled a resolution to use the county Demolition Team to raze a city of Gloversville property, with some expressing concern it would set a precedent.

The board spent nearly an hour at the County Office Building discussing whether to allow the team to demolish a building at 7 Hill St. The city is trying to gain approval from the county as soon as possible, as demolition is part of a larger city-owned Hill Street Bridge repair project.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said the county didn’t realize until after the proposed resolution went through the committee system that the building is “still in private ownership.”

“I have a problem with that, a big problem with that,” Bleecker Supervisor David Howard said. “This is not what the demolition team is set up to do.”

A board resolution in 2001 established policy that the team, designed to demolish municipally-owned structures, should not raze private buildings.

“That policy says our demolition team is not to do projects like this on private property,” Stead said.

Stead said he and county Attorney Jason Brott discussed the matter. Passed out at Monday’s meeting was an alternative amendment, Stead said, that the board could consider. The amendment stated that county Solid Waste Director Jeff Bouchard can’t proceed with demolition of the Hill Street building until receiving written approval from Brott “warranting that there is no legal liability to the county.”

But the board defeated a motion to add the amendment, 12-6, before eventually voting to table the originally-proposed resolution.

“There could be some extra liability,” Stead said.

Gloversville 3rd Ward Supervisor Michael F. Gendron added, “We were led to believe the city owned it.”

Bouchard recently told the board’s Economic Development-Environment Committee that Gloversville officials submitted a request for assistance from the demolition team. He said that under Gloversville Code, and after a public hearing, the city has the authority to tear down the building. He said the building is a portion of the old Independent Leather glove factory along the Cayadutta Creek.

Bouchard said removal of the building is crucial to making the necessary repairs to a proposed Hill Street Bridge project. In connection with the project, he said the city is receiving 95 percent reimbursement of all costs. He said the demolition team can bill back the construction and demolition debris disposal rate, along with fuel, equipment and labor costs.

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King attended Monday’s meeting, telling supervisors the county can do the job much cheaper than an independent contractor. He said any delay is not good.

“It’s just going to hold up the bridge project,” King said. “We’re hoping to move this forward, sooner or later.”

Gloversville Department of Public Works Director Kevin Jones said the city has a “dangerous” building with the Hill Street structure. He said it has become a “complicated and technical issue” with the foundation of the bridge and building intertwined. He said the building is partially collapsed and asbestos removal is necessary.