The facility has been unoccupied since 2008, but a caretaker oversees it.
In July 2011, Schumer and Owens urged U.S. Secretary of the Army and former North Country Congressman John McHugh to get the property for Franklin County, but he told them it’s up to the General Services Administration to award it.
That agency decides what it holds in excess property each year, then hires an appraiser to set fair-market value. A notice is sent telling other federal agencies that it is available, and if they want it, they have 30 days to make a formal request for ownership.
If no federal agency wants it, it is declared surplus and made available to state and local governments and nonprofit organizations.
The property can be obtained for free as long as it is used for a public benefit, such as homeless services, corrections, law enforcement, drug rehabilitation, emergency-management response and housing.
Homeless services get priority over other public-benefit uses, according to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. But if no one wants it for that purpose, it is advertised as available and awarded after a review of applicants.
The process has taken so long because the General Services Administration needed an updated report on the property’s environmental condition, asbestos survey and radiological survey.
Champagne received a letter in February from Owens’s office, saying the property could be conveyed to the county by June.
The proposed intelligence center would house the Franklin County Narcotics and Border Task Force and personnel from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Division of Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Border Patrol, National Guard, State Police and officers from municipal police departments in Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Malone.
The northern border is being exploited by drug smugglers and others, and officials say creating an intelligence center upstate would improve the sharing of information and coordination of the many agencies that protect the international border with Canada.
Email Denise A. Raymo:firstname.lastname@example.org