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Massena Town council rejects bid for two-story house

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MASSENA - The sale of a town-owned two-story house, garage, shed and playhouse is not attracting the offers officials had hoped for.

The Massena Town Council has been attempting to sell the four structures at 367 N. Raquette Road for the last several months. Its most recent effort was to auction off the structures online, but the highest bid was $890 for all four buildings.

The council voted unanimously to reject that bid at a special meeting on Tuesday, and will try again to advertise the buildings locally, according to Supervisor Joseph D. Gray. The advertisement in the St. Lawrence County Free Trader will now include a minimum purchase offer of $10,000, Mr. Gray said.

“We think $10,000 is a good place to start right now,” Mr. Gray said.

Councilman Robert J. Cunningham said he believed the house was valuable.

“If someone goes in there, there’s a significant amount of value in there,” he said.

The buildings are on a parcel within the Federal Aviation Administration’s “runway protection zone” and must be cleared to meet requirements, according to Jon P. Donahue, department manager with C&S Engineers, which provides services at the airport. The FAA prohibits buildings of a certain height within that area in order to create a buffer zone for planes.

The house has been in the zone for the 28 years it has been standing, but the FAA noticed it in a study several years ago, Mr. Donahue previously said. Until recently, the property was a private residence owned by Stephen M. Trautmann.

The Trautmanns lived in the house until the town bought the property. A $240,000 portion of a $1.3 million FAA grant for Massena airport improvements funded that purchase. Included in that portion is a local contribution of about $15,000.

The buyer of the structures would have to remove them from the property at their own expense. Officials have not completed an estimate of demolition costs.

Despite that expense, Mr. Gray said he believed the $890 offer was too small, and wished the council set a minimum bid in the first place.

“We made a mistake, in my opinion, by not setting a minimum bid,” he said. “If we ever do it again, we know we will set a minimum bid.”

Since Tuesday’s meeting, Mr. Gray said he received one more additional offer which was above $890 but below $10,000; he is still in discussions with that individual.

In its new advertisement, the town will only list the house and playhouse for sale. The shed and garage are low enough and can remain standing, so the town highway department may use them, Mr. Gray said.

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