Ordinance to demolish building passes

GLOVERSVILLE – The Common Council on Tuesday passed an ordinance to remove an unsafe building at 7 Hill St. – a removal needed so the city can move ahead with a bridge project.

After the meeting, Mayor Dayton King said the city is still seeking help from the Fulton County Demolition Team to raze the structure.

The ordinance, passed unanimously by the council, states the city shall undertake the removal of an “unsafe building” located at 7 Hill St. anytime subsequent to May 9, in the event property owner Mark Vrooman of Utah fails or refuses to remove the building.

Acting city Engineer Steven E. Smith on Sept. 4 called for demolition in accordance with General City Law and City Code. The law states the city can pass an ordinance “compelling the repair or removal of any building or structure that, from any cause, endangers the health, safety or welfare of the public.”

Fulton County officials said last week they preferred the city seek an order to condemn the structure, which they consider private at this time. The city, meanwhile, is trying to gain approval from the county as soon as possible as the demolition is part of a larger city-owned Hill Street bridge repair project.

A county Board of Supervisors resolution in 2001 established a policy that the demolition team, designed to demolish municipally-owned structures, should not raze private buildings.

City Department of Public Works Director Kevin Jones has said the county can do the job much cheaper than an independent contractor. If the county refuses to demolish the building and be reimbursed $25,000 by the city, the city would have to bring in a private contractor to do the same job for about $150,000, he said.

Jones said the city is asking the county to do the demolition because Vrooman has been served with numerous tickets, notices of hearings and condemnation letters, but refuses to answer them. But he said regardless of the county’s decision, the building will have to be demolished so the city can continue with the bridge repair project.

During a public hearing Tuesday night, city resident Bob Castiglione looked around the chambers and asked if Vrooman was in attendance, which he wasn’t.

“Can we determine what his interest is?” Castiglione asked.

He asked why it took the city about 45 days to serve Vrooman on Oct. 14 after Smith’s order to demolish the building.

Castiglione suggested City Attorney Anthony Casale confer with Fulton County District Attorney Louise Sira about a possible criminal sanction “for these types of violations.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.