To the Editor:
When Kathleen Hyde, owner of 17 Main Street in Massena, saw the headline Thursday in The Daily Courier Observer she knew the article would, once again, fire up the community about the fire that destroyed the building that once housed her computer consulting business and the grant monies the village used to clean up the property, along with properties at 13 and 15 Main that were also destroyed Jan. 31, 2008.
“It’s deja vu,” she said Sunday. “Once every six months or thereabouts, this happens. Someone in the village, of late Mayor Hidy, complains publicly or an “anonymous” complaint is filed, and someone from the Code Enforcement Office calls to find out what’s going on or, as was the case in October, I receive a letter that references “complaints” about the property. All I can say is that it’s unfair. I am the property owner who has made an attempt to rebuild and that attempt, to date, has cost me thousands of dollars.”
What is particularly distressing this time is that she has a building permit on file with the Building Department and it was approved in October. The problem is that it hasn’t been issued because the stamped blueprints she dropped off at the Town Hall in the spring are missing. Efforts by staff to locate them have been unsuccessful, she said.
What’s also distressing is that Mayor Hidy’s comments are just plain untrue, according to Hyde. She never received a check from the village – the village was the sole recipient of the grant - and she has been held to a higher standard than other property owners and grant recipients.
“I’m extremely grateful that the grant monies were used to clean up the debris so I could move forward, but what most people don’t realize is that there was so much more to making the decision to sign the agreement that allowed the village access to the property to clean it up,” Hyde said. “What most people also don’t realize is that the building at 17 Main that was destroyed was not insured. Only the contents were covered by insurance policies. The other properties were insured.”
With respect to the higher standard, she explains that grant recipients are usually responsible for providing 50 percent of the funding for revitalization projects, as is the case with the current redevelopment grant for Massena’s downtown corridor. By her estimates, the portion of the cleanup for her property was a little less than $19,400 of the project’s bid of $78,400. If she had received the monies in the form of a grant, she would have been responsible for about $9,700 of the cleanup costs. She has already spent the full $19,400 and more rehabilitating the site and purchasing the adjoining property when no one else was interested in redeveloping it.
“I’ve spent my money trying, in good faith, to rebuild, and every step of the way, I’ve been the one targeted for not doing anything,” she said. “Sure, it’s taking much longer than I had ever imagined, but I keep plodding along, getting kicked, getting back up again and plodding along.”
“I want to set the record straight once and for all about the grant money and about what is happening at 17 Main so I have started a blog,” Hyde said. “In it is a copy of the agreement between the Village of Massena and the property owners, information about the fire and my losses, and most importantly, from my perspective, information about where I am now with my rebuilding effort and what the future holds.”
Hyde’s blog can be found at 17main.wordpress.com.