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Massena Town Council considers property sale

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MASSENA - The Massena Town Council may move ahead with seeking appraisals on property at the Massena Intake and Massena Point, turned over to the town by the New York Power Authority as part of the 2003 relicensing agreement.

During last week’s meeting, council members discussed their options in selling the land, including having the property appraised and whether to go through a real estate agency or advertise the property on their own.

Councilman John Macaulay believes it would be in the best interest of the town to go through a real estate agency.

“(I would like to) get real estate people involved in future endeavors. We should go ahead and get (the properties) out of our hands, let them work on it,” Mr. Macaulay said.

Mr. Macaulay noted the properties would have to be appraised before the town could begin to work with a realtor.

“Before we give it to a real estate guy we’d have to know the price, some kind of value to put it on a listing,” he said.

Councilman Charles “Chuck” Raiti believes the town council will vote on whether to have those properties appraised at its next meeting on Jan. 16. Once the land is appraised, the council will have to weigh its options with the property.

Mr. Raiti said in order for the property to be advertised on national websites, they would have to pay for an exclusive listing, meaning that for a set period of time all offers and advertisements would have to go through one realtor. Mr. Raiti remains in favor of going through a realtor, saying it would save town officials time and effort.

“They do all the marketing and all the labor, (and could) possibly get some national advertising” on the property, he said.

Town Supervisor Joseph Gray would like to look at exclusive listings through any interested realtors, to find one that will list the property for the lowest possible commission. He also expressed a hesitancy to move ahead on the properties, particularly Massena Point, in order to find the best possible deals.

“There is no way we are selling Massena Point for $10,000 when it is worth $200,000,” Mr. Gray said. “That is an extremely valuable piece of property and it might not be the right time to sell it. But there’s no way I’m going to sit back and dump it for a bottom-basement price.”

Despite his hesitancy to sell the Massena Point property, Mr. Gray would still like to have it appraised, noting the town might be able to reduce the costs of the appraisals by having them both done at the same time.

Over 300 acres of land formerly held by NYPA was returned to the towns of Massena, Louisville, Lisbon and Waddington at no cost following the 2003 relicensing of the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project.

But little has been done yet with those parcels. Officials blame a lagging property market and a general hesitancy throughout the region toward making large investments during uncertain economic times.

Any kind of development along the St. Lawrence River has been a long time coming, according to Mayor James F. Hidy.

“I just can’t imagine how NYPA owned all these properties along the St. Lawrence River. We’ve been basically in Massena landlocked for all these years,” Mr. Hidy said. “People like to gravitate toward the water. And you’ve had your thumbs on these properties for years and years and years. Hopefully this is the start of lightening up a little bit.”

According to a study completed by a consulting firm retained by NYPA in January 2011, nine parcels of property along the shores of Waddington, Louisville and Massena are best suited for a marina or other large-scale commercial development.

The study evaluated land currently or formerly owned by NYPA in the three towns adjacent to the St. Lawrence River. Its conclusions are meant to show the towns which parcels would be the easiest for “shoreline development,” proposals that could include a marina, commercial dock or restaurant.

Those nine parcels are on or near Whitehouse Point and Whittaker Park in Waddington, on Mutton Ridge and adjacent to the Lake St. Lawrence Yacht Club in Louisville, and near the Massena Water Intake and Robert Moses State Park in Massena.

Mr. Gray previously said the town might want to consider possible recreational uses for the property. He noted an annual fishing tournament is held at the Massena Intake by the New York chapter of the BASS Federation, and the property near the intake could be used as a staging ground.

“The town (could provide) some kind of structure for them to do the weigh-ins, for the prizes, for the media, etc.,” he said previously.

Mr. Gray believes the town needs to consider this in moving ahead with an appraisal and possible selling of the property.

“We have to weigh whether (those uses are) more important than selling it to generate cash for the town,” he said.

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