MALONE — Franklin County legislators accepted a fraction of the market value of a Route 11 property on the promise that jobs will be created when the parcel is developed.
A 3.4-acre plot that once hosted a gas station and convenience store next to McDonald’s in Malone is appraised at $220,700 but purchased last month during a county land sale by Sean Burke of Malone for $21,000.
“In hindsight, we should have had a minimum bid ...” said Legislator Marc “Tim” Lashomb (R-Malone).
But, he said, potential development of the former Alaskan Oil Co. property is expected to create jobs, generate sales-tax revenue and increase the tax rolls.
Attempts to reach Burke for comment on his plans for the property were not successful.
As for the low sale price, legislators said it was a widely advertised land sale where all bidders were welcome.
“It was a democratic process,” Lashomb said. “Anybody could have bid on it. It was a fair and open process. That’s what the system is for.”
Legislator Timothy Burpoe (D-Saranac Lake) said he was disappointed in the low price the county received, but a contaminated property was cleaned up and sold, “and we have to defer the expense to the future.
“It will generate sales tax and property tax,” he said.
“We attempted to do something. It didn’t work, but I think this commercial property will be (good) for Malone.”
Lashomb was part of a committee that reviewed the auction bids on all Malone properties in the auction to determine if the new owner was going to use or improve the site or just buy the land with no intention of improving it.
Besides Lashomb, the committee comprised Town Supervisor Howard Maneely, Town Councilor Louise Taylor, Village Board member Hugh Hill and Legislator Gordon Crossman (D-Malone).
“Part of the reason we did this was because there would be a growth factor,” said Legislator Paul Maroun (R-Tupper Lake), adding that he hopes Burke and a potential partner “will keep their word.”
Lashomb said he has assurances that development would begin “in the next few months.”
The county tried to sell the property twice before with no luck, first in 2009 and again in 2011, after federal-stimulus funding was used to remove tons of contaminated soil from the site.
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