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Crumbling building an issue for Whitehall

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WHITEHALL — A Main Street building that continues to deteriorate has become a vexing issue for village officials, who remain unsure what to do.

The building, locally referred to as the flatiron building because of its similarity to a New York City landmark, has been abandoned for years and has continued to bow in and shed bricks.

It was slated to be on the Washington County tax sale list this year, but it was taken off the list.

“We pulled it as a liability,” said Al Nolette, the county treasurer. “We can choose not to foreclose because it would put an undue burden on the county.”

Whitehall Mayor Phil Smith said the building’s owners, Carl and Sallie Adams, have both died. He said their will left their properties in a trust to their children, but specifically did not mention this particular building.

“We don’t know what we can do, because the village does not own the building. It’s totally abandoned,” he said. “We are trying to find a way to take it down, because it is a hazard.”

Smith went to a conference Monday on the Restore New York grants, but he found the village would not be eligible, since it does not own the property.

“We needed to have a plan to take it down, and then a plan for what we were going to do afterward,” he said. “We cannot make any plans because we do not own the property.”

Smith said the village is putting concrete barriers around the building.

Officials have said there are asbestos issues with the building, along with the structural damage it has already sustained.

The village went to court before the Adams’ deaths to try to force them to deal with the building, but they did not respond.

“I would say right now, no one owns it,” Smith said. “They have passed, and it was not in their will.”

Nolette said county tax bills on the property are being sent to a son of the Adams’ in Fair Haven, Vermont.

You can read Bill Toscano’s blog at poststar.com/blogs or his updates on Twitter, @billtoscano_ps.

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