Thursday, December 2, 2021

County tax sale nets just $18,000 for Mullen site but other parcels bring $980,000

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

Warren County’s annual property auction was disappointing as to proceeds on sale of a high-profile parcel on Bay Road, but “very good” overall, nearing $1 million on 24 general properties that were offered, says Lexie Delurey, director of the County’s Real Property Tax Services.

The long vacant Mullen Iron Works was razed last spring. Back taxes owed amounted to $344,000. Chronicle photo/Mark Frost

The bid on 275 Bay Road where the dilapidated Mullen Iron Works long stood — between the County Bikeway and the Becton Dickinson medical device plant — came in at $18,000.

That is far short of the $344,000 owed in back taxes and the approximately $141,000 the County spent to demolish the building and do some environmental cleanup on the site, Ms. Delurey said.

It’s short even of the $68,700 the Board hoped to realize, members of the Environmental Concerns & Real Property Tax Services Committee said at their meeting last week.

Still the committee voted to accept the bid. The full board will consider the resolution at its meeting on Friday, Nov. 19.

Some members balked at the low return, but Dennis Dickinson, committee chair and Lake George Supervisor, said, “The property went out to the public and came back with $18,000. To me, that says that the $68,700 is not a valid figure.”

“We didn’t get what we wanted but let’s move on,” said Queensbury At-Large supervisor Brad Magowan.

Claudia Braymer, Glens Falls Ward 3 county supervisor, agreed. “I am disappointed that the bid was not higher. You all know I am all for parks and trails,” she said but added that the Mullen property belongs “back on the tax rolls.”

Queensbury Supervisor John Strough had pushed for the county to use the parcel as a parking and visitor center for the bike trail but gained little traction.

Glens Falls Ward 2 Supervisor Peter McDevitt said, “This seems like a very low amount of money for a property that sits at the crossroads of our two largest communities. What will go there?”

Glens Falls Ward 4 Supervisor Dan Bruno said he didn’t the City would buy it, having already purchased the former Glens Falls Tennis & Swim Club for a proposed park and aiming to buy the 333 Glen Street green space for a park, too.

The high bidder at close on October 30 was Hina Asad of Niskayuna, identified on the auction record as “nyinvest.” Mr. Asad did not return a phone call by press time. A Web search shows affiliation with Broadway Realty in New York City.

Presuming the sale is approved, the Town of Queensbury Zoning and Planning Boards would have approval of future use of the site, Ms. Delurey notes.

One supervisor expressed hope “a young entrepreneur could do something good with the property.”

Taxes hadn’t been paid since 1995 on the Mullen property, said Ms. Delurey, noting that she inherited the issue when she came on as director in 2012.

“Prior to that it sat there and nobody did anything,” she said. It was owned by J. David Mullen, who passed away in 2013, and then by his estate.

Last spring the Iron Works building was demolished and the Department of Environmental Conservation signed off that “no further remediation was needed,” Ms. Delurey added.

Separately, 24 of 25 parcels sold at the county tax auction on October 16, netting nearly $393,000 in outstanding taxes. “This was definitely a good auction,” Ms. Delurey says. She said the number of sales was “the normal flow.” What was “good,” she said, was total sales of $928,100.

After defraying back taxes, and satisfying liens such as funds owed to Medicare, nursing homes and such, Ms. Delurey said, 25 percent of the remainder goes to a Reserve Testing Fund the county created to help pay for remediations not covered by the prior owner — such as in the case of the Mullen property.

“It’s a great tool to have,” Ms. Delurey said. “People would like to see us go after the owners, but a lot of times that won’t get anywhere. We set it up for this reason, to help county taxpayers not have to foot the bill.”

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