Hoosick armory plan could go to vote

Thursday April 5, 2012


Staff Writer

HOOSICK, N.Y. -- A resolution to acquire the armory for $1 could be considered by the Hoosick Town Board in May after representatives from the board, the Hoosick Area Youth Center and Community Coalition (HAYC3) and the New York State Office of General Services meet later this month.

Meanwhile, New York has begun advertising the Hoosick Falls armory as an available excess property. "The armory’s massive size opens its future to myriad possibilities, indoor sports or recreational facilities, business offices, or cultural venue," states a new online brochure (view on the Banner’s Facebook page).

Town board members voted in March to direct town Attorney Debra Young to begin crafting language for a resolution with the Office of General Services, the state agency the town would work with in acquiring the armory. On Tuesday, Young said an attorney with OGS suggested the meeting of all interested parties, and that in the meantime New York had "no intention" of forcing the town out of the building.

The reassurance came at a board meeting held after the reported latest deadline of March 31. The town has faced a string of earlier deadlines, including January and last October, for a decision whether to take ownership of the armory at 80 Church St., where the town offices have been located since 1995 in a rental agreement with the state.

Young said the state would rather have the town take more time to make a final decision, than have it make a choice and then later renege on the agreement.

The topic has regularly dominated town meetings since it was announced in March 2011 the National Guard unit stationed in Hoosick would be relocating. That unit left in April of that year. Town officials have deliberated since then whether to remain there or relocate.

While board members again heard from residents on Tuesday lobbying in favor of the town’s ownership of the historic building, others believe the upfront cost -- $1, through a special legislative item -- belies the true expense of maintaining the colossal structure built in 1889. Heating costs totaled approximately $20,000 in 2010.

Penny Acree, the HAYC3 treasurer, said her organization Tuesday was "still interested" as a potential alternative landlord, adding they "still have open concerns."

After the recent unveiling of a large excess amount of the New York motor vehicle fleet on the auction website eBay, the Hoosick Falls Armory now appears on an online listing of "New York State Surplus Properties," available for viewing at http://properties.esd.ny.gov.

The state would seek to auction off the building if the town or an alternate tenet is not found. The state website includes nearly a dozen excess armories, residential and correctional facilities around the state.

An online brochure succinctly gives many of the arguments made by local Hoosick residents over the past year for and against the "historic landmark in Rensselaer County." While "not in keeping with the needs of the 21st century military," the brochure goes on to say the armory "remains an object of civic pride," and "its impressive, spacious design offers myriad possibilities for public or private endeavors."

The property features 23,684 square feet (including drill hall) in a "central village location" with .3 acres of land, stone and brick load-bearing masonry, three-story castellated tower, two-and-a-half story conical-roofed tower, and a recently replaced PVC and copper roof.

"Common to Perry’s overall aesthetic, the exterior of the Hoosick Falls armory is best classified as medieval-military Romanesque-revival, or simply ‘castle-like.’" In small print, prospective bidders are "urged to obtain professional advice, prior to the public sale, in order to assess the site’s potential, building and mechanical components and condition, and compliance with health and building codes for any planned use of the property."

"Due to the age of the buildings, the potential for asbestos in interior and exterior structural components and the presence of lead in underlying paint cannot be discounted," the brochure cautions. The OGS has 82 photographs available of the armory for prospective bidders on the state agency’s Flickr account at bit.ly/H92O3b, and a video tour is available on YouTube.

Last September, New York sold the Whitehall armory at auction for $165,000 to a developer from Orange County for the purposes of an athletic club. It had an initial asking price of $75,000.

@Zeke_Wright on Twitter or ewright@benningtonbanner.com


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