Massena village trustees take action on former Massena School of Business building

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MASSENA — After getting no response from property owners over the past two years, Massena’s code enforcement officer and mayor say it’s time to declare the former Massena School of Business building an eyesore and begin measures to clean it up.

“The property known as the old School of Business is in the process of falling apart on us. The property owner is out of state. For the last two years they have been notified,” Code Enforcement Officer Aaron Hardy told village trustees Tuesday.

However, he said, officials have received “zero response” and have issued another 30-day notice this year, still without any communication from the owner of 22-24 Main St. Meanwhile, Mr. Hardy said, trustees were likely receiving complaints about the state of the property.

“I think that it’s time we move on and do something with this property and make downtown look better. I think it’s time to move forward and get it cleaned up,” Mr. Hardy said.

Mayor Timmy J. Currier said officials have been dealing with two owners of the building since the village instituted a blighted-property code two years ago.

“When a new owner comes in, the game starts all over again. That’s what happened in this case,” he said.

He said the owners were served, but ignored the village’s request to sit down and come to an agreement.

Mr. Currier said the village code and a blighted-property policy allow village officials to make a restoration agreement with building owners.

“If the property is blighted, this is what you need to do to get it to specifications that meet the code. They sit down with us and say, ‘These are the things we can do. I can do these things in this amount of time. I only have so much money to do so.’ It’s designed to be a reasonable process,” he said. “They’ve chosen not to come forward and sit down with us and do that.”

The goal of the blighted-property abatement code is to improve property, “not just hand out fines,” Mr. Currier said.

Because there was no response from the owners, the village code allows officials to hold a public hearing regarding the building. They’ve scheduled one for 5:30 p.m. July 17.

After the public hearing, and if the owner or occupants don’t address the violations, village officials can declare the building a nuisance. The village will then be authorized to enter the premises and take care of the issues, with the cost charged to the owner and a lien established on the property.

“If you say yes, we would then proceed to probably issue a bid to have somebody come in on this particular project to bring it up to standards that are (acceptable) to us in the code,” Mr. Currier said.

Department of Public Works Superintendent Hassan A. Fayad said the best option right now would be to make the building more aesthetically appealing.

“It would probably require some painting and having to board up the windows” to keep pigeons out, he said.

In a separate discussion on Tuesday, Deputy Mayor Matthew J. LeBire gave an update on guidelines for downtown core renovations. Mr. LeBire said he and Mr. Currier met with representatives from the Planning Committee and code office to “take a hard look at the design standards that were developed some years ago to see if we could kind of pick out what would be important and critical and simplify it so it was not a daunting document or set standard.”

“We have a real good feel on the direction we’re headed,” he said.

He said village officials have some more minor work to do on the guidelines and hope to have something to present to trustees in July.

Mr. Currier said one of the areas to address is a “pathway” to follow in case owners can’t meet the standard renovation guidelines.

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