CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- Village officials said they will seek a court order for plans and work to the Ackley building on West Main Street. Following along the village's unsafe buildings law, if court-ordered repairs are not made, the municipality could move forward with repairs or demolition on its own.
But the process could take a year or more.
Mayor Stephen Robertson said village trustees agreed to petition Washington County Court for the order during a special meeting Thursday. The unoccupied, dilapidated structure at 53 West Main St. has been a topic of concern for residents and officials, who previously gave building owner Colin Schroeder two months to make repairs last October, following a fire sparked by a squatter the month prior.
A village engineering report shortly after that fire found "sideways deflection" of the two-story building due to lack of lateral bracing, as visible from the street. Trustees approved a resolution seeking a court order in February.
Robertson said Schroeder had been in contact with county code enforcement and with the village attorney and trustees, and was notified of the pending action by the village. After the order is received and reviewed in the next three to four months, the court may impose a timeframe for plans and work to be done. If the work is then not completed in the time allotted, a lien would be placed on the building allowing the village to proceed with its own repairs or demolition.
The vacant building has been past due on taxes for the previous two years. For 2012, the Washington County treasurer's office reported an unpaid county and town tax bill of $2,938, which includes unpaid village and school taxes from the year prior, which were re-levied onto this year's bill from the county. The Cambridge village clerk's office reported unpaid tax bills totaled $404 for 2012.
After discussion, Robertson said trustees were of the opinion that saving the building would be preferable to tearing it down. "(We're) leaning toward stabilization, if the cost is similar," said Robertson on Friday. "The general consensus is, it is a historic building and it would be nice to have preserved," he said, especially contrasted with the outcome of demolition -- an empty downtown lot to fill.
Robertson said one possibility expressed by residents Thursday could be the formation of a private organization to fundraise for rehabilitation work.
The village has yet to receive estimates for the cost of either shoring up or demolishing the building.
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