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City will evict tenants in four foreclosed properties

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While Ogdensburg City Council members were doling out kudos for a successful property auction, they found out they had new surplus property on their hands.

When Ogdensburg auctioned off 22 pieces of surplus property last month, it benefited from more than $400,000 in income from the sales and the restoration of the parcels to the city’s tax rolls. Now, the city has taken four more occupied properties for nonpayment of taxes, interim City Manager Philip A. Cosmo said.

Three of the properties, 817 Ford St., 611 Rensselaer Ave. and 801 Washington St., are residential, while 807 Ford St. is occupied by the Cobblestones Gift Shop.

Mr. Cosmo said he has issued notices to vacate the premises to all of the properties’ occupants.

“They’ve all been sent letters. They have been given until Aug. 20 to vacate,” he said.

If not vacated by that day, the city will post eviction notices for each property.

Previously, Ogdensburg has had problems when residents of tax sale-acquired buildings have not been evicted promptly according to city policy.

“This gets us back into a set policy that we should have been doing right along,” Councilor Wayne L. Ashley said. “It is unfortunate that it happened to these people.”

When the city took the property at 819 Knox St. through tax sale, the occupants weren’t evicted immediately.

“If you remember, part of the glitch there was that the property had existing tenants and the owner was going through a bankruptcy proceeding,” Councilor Jennifer Stevenson said. “It was a unique situation.”

The occupants lived in the property for three years rent- and tax-free while the property was rehabilitated. Earlier this year, council members vowed not to repeat their mistake.

“I do feel sorry for them, but this is pretty much the policy we all agreed on when the Knox and Grove Street issues came up,” Mr. Ashley said. “The city does not want to get into the renting business.”

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