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Canton officials want burned building site cleaned up

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CANTON — A duplex on Gouverneur Street in Canton that burned more than a year ago remains standing, but village and town officials have not given up on the idea of removing it for a reasonable cost.

The house at 3-5 Gouverneur St. burned in February 2011. Its owner, Harriet Stebbins Johnson, is in a downstate nursing home and does not have the ability to take it down. She offered to sign the property over to the town or village if either paid the back taxes, which are more than $10,000.

The village began investigating paying the back taxes and transferring the property for $1 to a developer who would tear it down, but stopped when the town began pursuing an abstract of title.

The town soon learned that the back taxes, cost of asbestos abatement and debris removal would bring the price tag close to $20,000, which would be difficult to recoup through sale of the cleaned-up lot.

Supervisor David T. Button said earlier this year that he hoped to find state grant money through waterfront revitalization to help pay for the environmental cleanup.

“So far, we’ve dug a lot of dry holes,” Mr. Button said. “That doesn’t mean we have exhausted all avenues.”

Assistance of about $6,000 would make removal feasible, he said.

The village will take another look at how to demolish the building if the town is unable to find grant funding, Mayor David P. Curry said.

“It’s been sitting there too long. It’s only fair to do something with it,” he said. “After we get some other problems taken care of, I want to take a good look at the burned-out house on Gouverneur Street.”

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