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Thu., Sep. 3
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Pierrepont Avenue property owner says another toilet garden could replace razed building


POTSDAM - Potsdam village officials see a 28 Pierrepont Ave. structure damaged by fire as unsafe and dangerous, but the building’s property owner vehemently disagrees.

Frederick J. “Hank” Robar Sr. says that the house is closed off, and he has boarded up portions of the home and therefore there is no danger.

“I got a letter on Feb. 6 that said something had to be done with it. It said it had to be brought up to code. I haven’t decided whether I’m going to demolish it or not. I got one price on a potential demolition, but I haven’t made my choice yet,” Mr. Robar said.

The village board decided Monday night to give Mr. Robar 60 days to make a plan for demolition or repairs to the structure. If that time period passes with no action, the village would initiate a proceeding in state Supreme Court.

The deteriorating structure was heavily damaged by a fire in October allegedly set by one of the tenants.

Code Enforcement Officer Greg Thompson gave a report on the state of the building on May 8.

“As found upon inspection large portions of the roof structure have been damaged beyond repair due to fire. A significant number of roof trusses have been burned and charred,” the report said. “Portions of the roof were removed in an effort by the fire department to extinguish the flames. A large portion of the roof was opened up by the fire as well. Since the time of the fire these openings have remained open to weather and vermin.”

Mr. Robar said there are other houses in the village that are in far worse shape than his.

“There is a house on Leroy Street that has been condemned for years and years, and I don’t know why the village hasn’t looked at that one. Why are they picking on me, you know?” he asked.

Mr. Thompson’s report said that the most significant damage to the building is along the southern side of the dwelling. He concluded that the building remains unsafe and dangerous to the health, safety and general welfare of the people of the village.

Even though the property owner has yet to finalize his plans for the structure, he has been thinking about it.

“I’m going to try to get the location cleaned up as soon as possible. I want to get it cleaned up to make it into a toilet garden and make a nice big garden there,” Mr. Robar said. “If anything happens, I am going to tear it down and have a garden put in.”

This is not the first time that Mr. Robar has been involved in the world of toilet gardens.

In 2004, Dunkin’ Donuts wanted to build a restaurant on his 82-84 Market St. property but requests to rezone the property were denied by village officials. In protest, Mr. Robar adorned the lawn with flower-filled toilets and used pastel colors to paint buildings on the site. He has had several clashes with village code officials since that time.

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