SOUTH GLENS FALLS  A convenience store that was abruptly abandoned three months ago may now be a health hazard.

A South Glens Falls health committee is evaluating the building, a large convenience store and Sunoco gas station at the corner of routes 9 and 32.

Inside, there’s an elaborate deli — with rotting meat and cheese.

From a side window, it’s easy to see stacks of molding hot dog rolls and bread.

And then there’s the gas tanks. According to an inspection certificate, there are six underground tanks on the premises, all abandoned with gas inside.

It’s not clear why the store was abandoned. The owner is believed to be out of the country. Rumors abound, but the only certainty is that village officials and business partners have not been able to reach him — and he hasn’t called them.

The store was locked, but not thoroughly, and police said people stole cigarettes by climbing in an unlocked window. There are still piles of cigarette boxes in the store, but the cash register is open and empty.

Officers locked the windows.

After two months without payment, the power was shut off. And that’s when things started to fall apart.

The loss of refrigeration accelerated the bacteria growing in the cheese and meat of the large deli counter, which may attract vermin.

Village officials also turned off the water after reports of a leak, possibly from a pipe that froze after the power was turned off.

Mayor Joe Orlow called for a health investigation, saying, “We have a responsibility to protect the neighborhood.”

Now, village attorney Mike Muller is waiting for the health report. If the building is officially deemed a health hazard, he will write a letter asking the mortgage-holder to take care of the problem.

“Honestly, I’ve had more successes than failures,” he said. “If they favorably respond to the letter, they’re going to want to take over the property.”

That means they might hire a crew to clean out the food and secure the building.

Orlow wants the bank to also sell the store to a new owner. He’s already had inquiries from one business owner, who wants to remain anonymous, he said.

“She owns a couple businesses in Moreau and the village of South Glens Falls. She has a good track record, so she’d be a definite asset,” Orlow said. “If they could reach someone with the power to negotiate …”

But with the owner incommunicado, Muller said a sale will not happen for a long time — probably years.

“Every mortgage foreclosure is going to be a long, enduring process,” he said.

The village has essentially no power to intervene, he added. Even if the bank were to stop paying taxes on the property, the county would reimburse any delinquent bills, which means only the county would have the authority to foreclose for tax purposes.

“But the bank’s looking out for its security,” Muller said. “You know the bank is going to write a check for that.”

While that means the gas station and convenience store will likely be closed for a long time, there’s a new one coming to the village this year. Cumberland Farms is opening just a short distance down the road, at 107 Main St.

The store will be next to McDonald’s and close to two other stores with gas stations. There’s a Speedway and a Stewart’s Shops within sight of the new Cumberland Farms location.

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You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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