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Former Newell building will be emptied, secured by next week

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An Ogdensburg official has been assured that a former manufacturing plant on Paterson Street will be cleared of all combustible materials and secured by next week by its Canadian business occupant.

Fire Chief Steven M. Badlam said Tuesday that Leslee Sports, Brockville, Ontario, will have its remaining inventory of sports apparel removed from the former Newell Manufacturing plant, 48-52 Paterson St., by May 18. The company will also secure the building it owns and has used as a warehouse by boarding up its broken windows.

Mr. Badlam said he was given the assurance by Michael Dingman, Leslee’s general manager.

“That’s what I was told,” the chief said. “They said they were going to do their best to have it cleaned out by May 18.”

The unheated building was flooded Feb. 13 when its sprinkler system burst. Faced with fire code violations, Leslee was told to either fix the sprinkler or shut the building down by getting rid of all combustible materials and securing the structure.

Leslee’s plans for the building are unclear.

Mr. Dingman did not return a telephone message seeking comment, nor did he reply to emailed questions.

City officials will keep an eye on the May 18 deadline because if Leslee fails to live up to its assurance, it may face code violation fines of between $50 to $250 a day, depending on a city judge’s decision.

Mr. Badlam said he would rather that not happen. He said it has been the city’s stance since Feb. 13 to allow Leslee to resolve the matter, rather than to have to deal with summonses, fines and court.

“We really don’t want to do this,” he said.

Another deadline Leslee is facing is financial. According to the city comptroller’s office, it has a 2011 tax bill of $45,096.97 that is due June 23. If the bill isn’t paid by them or another party a year from then, the city will assume ownership of the property.

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