To The Editor:
To Mayor Hidy,
How unfortunate that, rather than working with someone who wants to develop the downtown of Massena, you print and speak falsehoods. I have tried, ever since the day after the fire when I was first threatened with my property being taken from me by the village of Massena, to move forward.
During the five years since the fire, I have been threatened with condemnation and imminent domain so many times I have now lost count. I was threatened when I refused to consider including housing on the second floor of a replacement building, as I was making my own plans to retain a contractor to clean up the property when it was littered with the asbestos from a neighboring property, when the Village of Massena called the property owners to a meeting to advise us that a grant would be reallocated for blight removal, and several times since you, Mr. Hidy, became mayor.
For the record, Mayor Hidy, I did not solicit the village of Massena for the grant money to clean up my property. For the record, I did not receive any money from the village of Massena for the cleanup. For the record, I was told either I could sign the agreement to allow the village of Massena access to my property to clean it up using the grant or else, with the else being the loss of my property because the village would order an emergency cleanup and assess the full cost back on the property.
Please, Mayor Hidy, tell me what you would have done in that sort of predicament. Would you have signed the agreement or risked losing what little you had left from a fire with an undetermined cause that didnt start on your property?
I have never wavered in my commitment to rebuild. Although you may not see progress, much has been done since the fire reduced 17 Main St. to its original stone foundation from the late 1800s and I lost not only my business contents, but also nearly all of my personal belongings.
The property was surveyed. The original stone foundation has been secured. A 60 foot concrete wall was poured and tied into the existing stone foundation to repair the foundation where it had been damaged by an excavator.
The framing for the first floor deck was completed. The forms for additional rehabilitation of the foundation were secured. A new fence was installed.
The new building was designed and modified, and finally, this spring, completed. Thus far, I have spent thousands of dollars of my money – not village money or insurance money – preparing for the day when I can put the nail I have been saving from the original building into the first stud of the first wall.
And, when no one wanted 15 Main St. for redevelopment, the village of Massena included, I stepped forward and spent additional monies buying the property from its former owners.
Mayor Hidy, can anyone else affected by the fire say that they have made these investments? That they continue to work toward redevelopment?
In October, I submitted a building permit application to complete the foundation work at 17 Main St. Once this work is completed, the site will be ready for the building to be erected. Did you know, Mayor Hidy, that the permit application has been approved but that the permit has not been issued because the latest copy of my signed blueprints is somewhere in the town hall but no one can find them?
Did you also know that I was the only owner who showed up for the property inspections in October and that there were no concerns about my properties, much less any discussion of condemning 17 Main or deficiencies with the foundation? Or that I offered to rehabilitate the area near the sidewalk first if it could be done even though there are no signs the stone foundation is compromised in that area? That I contacted my contractor after the inspection to discuss pouring concrete this fall to alleviate the issue with the sidewalk pavers?
I am sure that you do know, of course, that I cant do a thing without a building permit. To get that now, I will have to pay for another set of blueprints and then submit them again.
I am perplexed why it is that since you took office you have been so interested in my properties and have told me you intend to take them so that the village can redevelop them. Why would you have plans for properties that dont belong to you? Why would you want to take properties off the tax rolls? Why do you always target me when I am the only owner who has made and continues to make an investment in rebuilding the properties destroyed in the fire?
It seems to me, Mayor Hidy, that somewhere along the line I must have offended you. Maybe it was when, two years ago, I got upset with you because you threatened to take my properties. Or, maybe it was when I said no to your suggestion I just give my properties to the village. Maybe it is because I simply keep plodding along and, unlike most people who, after being threatened for years, would give up or sell out, I havent.
For the record, I am not going to either.
Ive always been taught you get more bees with honey than with vinegar, Mayor Hidy. If you are truly interested in redeveloping Massenas downtown corridor, I have some suggestions.
First, get your facts straight.
Second, communicate with the business owners who are willing to make an investment and work with, not against, them.
Third, find my blueprints.