By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor
The Glens Falls City School District will ask residents to approve spending $240,000 to buy a 1.3-acre property just north of the district’s bus garage on Glenwood Avenue in Queensbury.
Superintendent Paul Jenkins terms it “a wise investment for the taxpayers.”
The vote is set for Tuesday, Jan. 23, from noon to 9 p.m., at Sanford Street School.
School officials say they need more room to manage and maintain their fleet of 16 buses and six vans, and that they will use money from its reserve fund to pay for the purchase.
“Even though we are a non-busing district, almost all of our students use our vehicles at one time or another,” Mr. Jenkins told The Chronicle. “There are programs outside of the district, we are legally obligated to bus homeless students to and from school, and there are athletic events and field trips.”
The property includes the 114-year-old Hovey family home and a slate-roofed brick horse barn built in 1901.
The district conducted the first of two public hearings on Monday night, at the end of the school board meeting, until “old business.”
Only one person spoke, a resident of Glenwood Avenue who complained that none of her neighbors had heard anything about the proposal.
The district announced the plan the previous Friday, Dec. 8 with a press release, an email to residents, social media posts and a story on its website. They said a postcard is being mailed this week as well.
But the notice of the public hearing was not included in the press release nor in the email to residents, and was only visible by clicking on a link at the bottom of the email.
Mr. Jenkins said the district is only obligated to tell its voters, but later said the district will “reach out to residents and make sure they are aware of it.”
The second public hearing is set for Monday, Jan. 8, at 7 p.m., in the district office conference room at 15 Quade Street.
At the public hearing, school officials said a few trees would be taken down from 35 Glenwood and the land behind the house and next to the barn would be leveled and paved for bus parking.
Mr. Jenkins said the five-bedroom house will be upgraded to make it handicap accessible and it will add fire alarms and smoke detectors. He said the school could put offices there or use it for storage.
“We will make sure both buildings are up to code and able to be used by the District,” he said. “Right now we have no thoughts about knocking anything down.”
Asked more about it after the meeting, Mr. Jenkins said, “We have no intention of taking anything down. That could change down the road. Anything can happen. I can’t make any guarantees….I’m not going to say that will never happen because no one knows that.”
The bus garage and the everything on the south side of Glenwood Avenue is in the Glens Falls City School District.
Marylee (Pierce) Gosline, a descendant of the Hovey family that famously harvested ice from the pond across the road, grew up in the house at 35 Glenwood Avenue.
She said the brick barn was built in 1901 and was where horses were kept. A two-story building that included an ice house was torn down years ago.
“My mother, Caroline Frasier Hovey Pierce, was born there,” Mrs. Gosline said. “It’s a beautiful house. Charles Albert Hovey ran the Hovey Fruit company out of that house, and his brother Fred J. Hovey ran the ice company. It’s a historic house. I’d hate to see it torn down.”
She said, “If they use the building and don’t tear down the old barn, fine. But don’t promise the world to the neighbors and then tear everything down.”
At Monday night’s public hearing Mr. Jenkins said the district also had tried to buy 28 Glenwood Avenue but weren’t able to come to an agreement.
Told of that, Mrs. Gosline said her sister June Maniacek owns that vacant parcel.
Mrs. Maniacek said, “They offered us $40,000, and I think it’s worth more. Their attorney [Larry Paltrowitz] said they can’t spend taxpayers’ money for anything more than what the property is appraised for.”
Mrs. Maniacek said she is the town assessor in Dredsen and formerly was the assessor in Ballston. “We have an idea what it is worth,” she said. “We had it appraised a number of years ago for $60,000.
“This is the last piece of property we own, and I want to give the money to my kids. But I also would require a buffer and shielding and no new access to the property so the bus garage doesn’t take over the entire street. This is a nice neighborhood.”
Mr. Jenkins confirmed the $40,000 offer. “We can’t pay any more than its worth. What it’s appraised for is what we will pay.”
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