Wednesday January 2, 2013

ZEKE WRIGHT

Staff Writer

CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- Queried about snow loads atop Cambridge's dilapidated Ackley building, village officials said they would consult with their engineer. Following the recent snowfall, Mayor Stephen Robertson said late last month he had yet to hear from Hoosick Falls engineer Bill Cottrell about the matter, but "I'm not too worried with four inches of snow," Robertson said last Friday.

Trustees at their December meeting said they would need to prepare for the eventuality of paying to either rehabilitate the building at 53 West Main St. or tear it down. A habitual topic of discussion, trustees sought a court order for repairs to the listing structure in the summer of 2012 after attempts to have the building fixed by its owner, Colin Schroeder of New York City, went unheeded.

In a 2011 village engineering study Cottrell reported "sideways deflection" of the building and he recommended action to shore it up. Asked for a "reasonable" time frame for when the village might need to make a decision, village Attorney Tony Jordan told trustees that "it's hard to say what reasonable is ... (and it) also depends on what you plan to do."

Robertson said the village would plan to include a line item when budgeting for the upcoming fiscal year this March. Assuming action in 2013, he said it would be next summer to fall before any work could begin. Last Friday, the mayor said the village was still waiting to hear a decision from the court, which could grant a lien allowing the village to make repairs and seek repayment from Schroeder.

"Popular opinion is it would cost as much to stabilize as to tear down," Robertson said at the Dec. 5 village meeting. The general consensus among board members has been to stabilize the vacant building, but no decision nor final cost estimate has been made to date. Vacant for years and in arrears for taxes, there was renewed emphasis to find a fix following a fire caused by a squatter in October 2011.