County team to help raze building

JOHNSTOWN – The Fulton County Board of Supervisors on Monday authorized the county Demolition Team to assist the city of Gloversville with a demolition project at 7 Hill St.

“This is a one-time deal using our demolition team for a private project,” said County Attorney Jason Brott.

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

Demolition of the old leather factory building at 7 Hill St. is needed for a nearby Hill Street Bridge repair project, city officials have said. The board, which in March tabled team use permission, had been reluctant to allow the city use of the team because the structure is still under private ownership.

But several supervisors said Monday they want to help the city, and use of the team is contingent upon city action through state Supreme Court to deem the building unsafe and thus allow demolition. The city would have to pay many thousands of dollars more by hiring a private firm to do the demolition versus use of the county team.

The board resolution that passed Monday had three main stipulations:

Written determination by Brott that Gloversville officials adopted the appropriate governing city ordinance.

The city must obtain a state Supreme Court order approving the city’s determination of an unsafe structure.

The city must provide a written “hold harmless/indemnification guarantee” to the county.

The Gloversville Common Council on April 8 passed an ordinance to remove what it deemed an “unsafe building” at 7 Hill St. The action stated the city shall undertake the removal of the building subsequent to May 9, in the event property owner Mark Vrooman of Utah fails or refuses to remove the building.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said this demolition is a “unique” situation because of the pending bridge project.

“Gloversville is paying for all the costs associated with the project,” he added.

Brott told the board he spoke with City Attorney Anthony Casale to inform him he “wasn’t comfortable” with use of the county demolition group until the court order comes through.

“There’s no doubt this bridge has to come down,’ said Gloversville 2nd Ward Supervisor Frank Lauria Jr. “I think this is the best solution for the county.”