VALATIE–The Village Board decided this week to put off accepting the only bid to purchase a parking lot owned by the village. Instead, the board agreed to hold a public hearing on the sale of the lot next month.
The lot is next to the American Legion Hall on Main Street and is owned and maintained by the village. The board posted the sale of the property and accepted bids to open at the meeting.
The only bid for the property that was submitted in time for the November 17 regular meeting came from Gunther Fishgold, who is in the processes of buying the American Legion building on Main Street. Mr. Fishgold was at the meeting to show the board his plans to put a clothing store in the building. When the board adopted a motion to hold a public hearing on the lot sale at the next board meeting, Mr. Fishgold withdrew his bid.
“You’re just tabling the problems on Main Street,” Mr. Fishgold told the board.
Board member Frank Bevens said that residents had come to him with their concerns about selling the parking lot and he wanted to give them an opportunity to address the board about the matter.
Mr. Fishgold, the owner of Tierra Farm and the Valatie Bar and Grill, and his CEO, Darren Grout, both said they wanted to take the parking lot off the board’s hands but they didn’t need to buy it for their business. “We want to help the village out,” said Mr. Fishgold.
“If we owned it, you’d have a nice looking parking lot that people would park in,” he said.
The two men also wanted to discuss the U.S. Hotel, across the street from the American Legion and two doors from their restaurant. Mr. Grout pointed out that it was the largest property on the street and no taxes are being paid on the property.
In 2012 the Valatie Local Development Corporation (LDC), a non-profit, quasi-governmental agency, purchased the old hotel with the hopes of fixing up the 12-unit apartment building. Village Attorney Rob Fitzsimmons said at the November meeting that the village has been “struggling” to deal with the LDC for some time. Village Mayor Diane Argyle has met with Ken Flood from the county’s Economic Development Corporation about the LDC and has reached out to Jason Nastke, the LDC’s president about issues with the building.
“We need to go through a legal process,” she told Mr. Fishgold at the meeting.
The debate over the hotel and the parking lot grew heated as Mr. Fishgold pressed the board to take action on the building. “The village needs to speak to the terrible code violations going on on the street,” he said.
Former Mayor Gary Strevell stood up during the discussion and accused the board of not being transparent about the sale of the parking lot. “You do need that parking lot,” he said, charging that the board’s effort to sell the lot looked “very improper.” The current mayor and other board members said they had been discussing the sale of the lot for several months.
“It’s not to the advantage of the village to keep the parking lot,” said the Mayor Argyle.
The motion to hold a public hearing about the sale passed and will be held at the next meeting December 9.
Also at the meeting November 17 meeting the board:
- Learned from representatives of Delaware Engineering, the firm working for the village on water and sewer matters, that testing on well #2 showed no surface water influence and that results will be sent to the state Department of Health for review. The findings mean the village will not have to build an expensive filtration system for municipal wells. Delaware Engineering’s Mary Beth Bianconi said that by not needing a filtration plant the village would save millions of dollars in construction and maintenance costs
- Heard presentations from Pat Manning of Viridian Energy and Tim Carr of Monolith Solar about having the village use one of their companies to pay for energy costs. The mayor plans to review both proposals with the village engineer
- Kept open the public hearing on proposed Local Law #3, which deals with the sewer, and the properties in Kinderhook that have connected to the Valatie’s sewer treatment plant. Mr. Fitzsimmons said that the village building inspector had some questions about the law that needed review. The discussion will continue at next month’s meeting
- Agreed to send a letter to the Ichabod Crane Board of Education asking to keep the portrait of Governor Martin H. Glynn outside the village offices. The district loaned the portrait to the village when village and town government operations moved to the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building but is now asking for it back. The mayor said there are questions about the ownership of the portrait
- Declared Saturday, November 29 “Shop Small Saturday” to promote local businesses in the village. There will be a ceremony at JGA Antiques & Collectibles, 3025 Main Street, at 10:30 a.m.
The next meeting will be Tuesday, December 9 at 7 p.m.
To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .