VALATIE–The US Hotel on Main Street was the topic of debate at the Village Board regular meeting this week. Gunther Fishgold, owner of the Valatie Bar and Grill, and his lawyer, Pam Joern, had another heated discussion with the board about the building, which is owned by the village Local Development Corporation (LDC).
“We have significant concerns,” Ms. Joern said at the Tuesday, January 13 meeting, referring to the safety of the building.
Mr. Fishgold, who also owns Tierra Farms, and his CEO, Darren Grout, attended the meeting to discuss hosting a farmers market in the village starting in the spring. They talked about locations for the market with the board and may possibly use the parking lot behind the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building or Glynn Square. Mayor Diane Argyle said she would talk to the Kinderhook Town Board, which shares ownership of the building with the village, about using the space. Mr. Fishgold said he would draft a letter with suggested dates and places for the market.
“I think Sunday’s not a bad day–get a weekend day and we won’t compete with Kinderhook and Chatham,” he said. The farmer’s market at the Real Food Market Coop in Chatham is held Fridays and farmers market in Kinderhook is at Village Square on Saturdays.
After that discussion, Village Attorney Rob Fitzsimmons brought up a letter sent from Ms. Joern to the Village Board about a fire safety inspection conducted at the US Hotel in December. Ms. Joern claimed that the inspection was only conducted on a small part of the basement of the building, which a state inspector deemed safe. She pointed out that there were 22 code violations on the building filed by the village building inspector, Walt Simonsmeier, and that an inspection needed to be done on whole building.
She also said that changes were made on the LDC’s structure without permits. “There seems to be a different application of building codes,” she said.
“There is not a level playing field on this street right now,” said Mr. Fishgold, who claimed that the US Hotel was getting preferential treatment from the building inspector.
Mr. Fitzsimmons said of the US Hotel and the violations, “The village has been struggling with the LDC for a long time.” The LDC bought the building in 2012 with a $250,000 bank loan.
Ms. Fitzsimmons refuted Mr. Fishgold’s assertion that Mr. Simonsmeier was giving anyone preferential treatment. He also said the inspection the letter referred to was only for fire and safety and was focused on one section of the building.
“You can’t just condemn a building because you have violations,” said Mayor Diane Argyle. She pointed out later in the meeting that she was not mayor when the LDC bought the building and that it’s an issue she has been working hard to resolve. Moving forward with condemning the building would be cost the village more in legal fees and other expenses, she said.
The hotel also owes the village for back taxes and for sewer and water bills. The back taxes were not settled when the LDC bought the building and LDC does not pay taxes because it is a not-for-profit entity.
Mr. Simonsmeier, who attended part of the meeting, said of the issues with the US Hotel, “We’re taking care of it.” When Mr. Fishgold asked him what he was doing, he said “I answer to the board.”
“We’re just trying to keep the pressure on,” said Mr. Fishgold.
“There is nobody sitting here that doesn’t want to see that place cleaned-up,” said Village Board member Frank Bevens of his fellow board members.
The next project on the property, the mayor said, would be tearing down a garage in the parking lot. Mayor Argyle there was a contract to have that work done. She also said that Mr. Simonsmeier would do another inspection of the building later this month.
Also at the meeting:
- The board announced that AARP and the IRS are hosting tax filing aid for seniors at the Glynn Municipal Building, 3211 Church Street, in the meeting room on Tuesdays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. from February 2 to April 9. Appointments can be set up by calling 518 758-9342
- The mayor said that residents who do not make the sidewalks on their property passable within 24 hours after a snow storm will be fined. The village will send out a crew to clear the sidewalk and the property owner will be fined a $50 administration fee and $20 a house for the removal of the snow or ice.
The next village meeting will be Tuesday, February 10 at 7 p.m. in the Glynn Municipal Building.