MALONE — Franklin County could get $50,000 back in unpaid taxes if Malone Central School District can use a former deaf-school property for sports.
County Treasurer Bryon Varin said the county would support the school’s efforts as long as district voters approve the property acquisition.
The school wants to tear the buildings down and use the space for soccer and softball fields.
County legislators met in mid August with District Superintendent Jerry Griffin, Business Administrator Timothy Whipple and attorneys to take over ownership of the buildings.
The last known owner, Dale Kanzler, had not signed the deed to take title to the seven buildings after paying $50,000 for them at a State Office of General Services auction in 2005.
“We have a tentative agreement from him to transfer the property to Franklin County,” Griffin said.
“The district and county are in discussions on transferring the property, but that would come only after a successful voter referendum whereby district residents approve the acquisition of property.”
The buildings, known as the Harison Complex and located at the intersection of State Street and College Avenue, have been vacant and virtually unused for the last seven or so years.
The former Northern New York Institution for Deaf-Mutes was built in 1887 and later became the local site for North Country Community College and Clarkson University.
School District Buildings and Grounds Superintendent David Brooks said the district has safety concerns with the property, as many students walk past the spot every day.
“Although the district does not own the property, we’ve received many reports over the years of kids entering the buildings and hanging out on the property,” he said.
“The structural integrity of the buildings has been significantly compromised over time, and we are fearful someone could be injured if the buildings are not dealt with soon.”
The existing bus garage and the seven dilapidated buildings would be razed to create new athletic fields close to Franklin Academy High School.
Having fields adjacent to the High School would improve student safety and save transportation costs and the $5,000 a year the district pays to use community ball fields at the Malone Dufort Airport and the Malone Recreation Park.
All varsity soccer and softball games could be played on site.
“There are lots of moving parts for this project,” Griffin said. “Hopefully, it can all start to come together soon. It’s exhausting but exciting at the same time.”
Email Denise A. Raymo:email@example.com