By ADAM ATKINSON
CANTON — The town and village boards here have moved one step closer on a proposal to eventually acquire, clean-up and redevelop the former M.R. Bell service station property on Riverside Drive.
At a joint meeting of the village board of trustees and the town council Wednesday night, the village board voted unanimously to hire Atlantic Testing laboratories to conduct an asbestos assessment of the property. The study will cost about $3,300, said village Mayor Michael Dalton, but the board voted to approve spending up to $5,000 on the study.
Atlantic will inspect the property for the presence of asbestos and other contaminants in the above ground structures there.
Such an inspection is required by code prior to demolition of the walls, roof and any other above ground structure.
The village has received estimates for the demolition of the structure from three contractors ranging from $15,008 to $28,000. Those estimates exclude the additional cost of remediation and disposal of asbestos or other contaminates there.
The information garnered in the study is expected to vary the cost of the demolition if asbestos is found. The presence of the substance will require specific remediation methods and disposal at the Rodman landfill.
The village has capped their spending at $30,000 total for the demolition work.
The state has agreed to remediate and dispose of all below ground contaminates which are thought to be present at the site, if the county, town and village work together with a shared services agreement to redevelop the lot.
The property has been foreclosed on and currently has a $25,000 lien placed on it by the state.
Prior to the property going to public auction, the state is allowing the municipalities the option to acquire the property for redevelopment purposes.
Due to the potential for contamination at the site which may require costly disposal, the village and town boards, with their attorney’s, have approached the arrangement with some caution lest they become legally obligated to take ownership of a blighted property and be held responsible for a costly environmental cleanup.
The state has agreed to indemnify the county and the municipalities from any obligation in that regard, if the municipalities agree to purchase the lot for $7,500, with either the town or village or both acting as the lead in taking ownership.
The deal would also indemnify any perspective future purchasers of the lot from responsibility for any contamination spills there. Furthermore, the county would clear the back taxes owed on the site. The $7,500 for the purchase would be submitted to the county by Canton village and town. The county would then in turn remit the amount to the state.
The cost of the project, for purchase and demolition work, would be split between the village and town in percentages yet to be determined. The board members of both bodies briefly speculated on those percentages of cost born by each, but agreed the first step would be the asbestos study to start the process.
“We need to know,” said Dalton of the potential for asbestos at the site.
“We don’t have a choice,” village Trustee Beth Bullock Larrabee.
County Legislator Kevin Acres, R-Madrid, who was in attendance at the joint meeting, said the St. Lawrence County Legislature did have a resolution ready to help facilitate the proposal on their end, but were forced to scrap it because it didn’t specify which municipality, town or village, would be the lead on the arrangement.
Now with the village running point by initiating the asbestos study and obtaining demolition cost estimates, the county is expected to move forward with a revised resolution. The town and village will need to negotiate at a future date how the cost sharing for that work will shake out.