QUEENSBURY — Warren County supervisors took the first step this week to sell for $400,000 a piece of property the county bought in 1991 for $1.
The property off Lower Warren Street was part of the former Ciba Giegy Corp. plant, which was a Superfund site because of contamination from the former pigment production operation there. The county has a public works garage on the east end, and buildings on the west end are used for storage and leased to D & G Recycling Co.
The county bought the property from Ciba Geigy as a cleanup on the lot was beginning. Most of the cleanup occurred on a now-vacant lot between the county property and Lehigh Cement Co.
The building used by the recycling business is in need of work, including a new roof that would cost $100,000 to $150,000. That cost has prompted the county to look into selling the property. A contract with D & G Recycling expired, and the company is now leasing the property month to month.
A “request for proposals” resulted in just one bidder, Perkins Recycling Corp. of Queensbury, which formerly used the property before moving to a bigger complex. Perkins offered $400,000 for 10.3 acres of the property. (The county plans to subdivide it to allow the DPW garage to remain.)
But the deed when the county bought the property requires the purchaser to not disturb the asphalt or building on property, so as not to release contaminated soil below. That restriction has given some supervisors pause over selling the building, since the county would have limited control over what subsequent owners do with it.
The county could insist on contract language that bars the buyer from taking up asphalt or doing building work, but should the buyer not abide by that covenant, the county could retain some liability. The county passed a local law in 2012 acknowledging the contamination when it agreed to take less than market value to lease the property to D & G Recycling.
“This is an accident waiting to happen,” said Glens Falls 2nd Ward Supervisor Peter McDevitt.
A representative of Perkins Recycling was on hand at a Thursday meeting of the county Board of Supervisors Facilities Committee and said he was aware of the environmental issues and knew the building needed work but wanted to buy the property anyway. The company put down a 10 percent deposit as part of its bid.
The Facilities Committee supported the concept of a sale, provided the legal and environmental details could be worked out. County Attorney Mary Kissane said the county could be indemnified as part of the sale. The committee voted to declare the land “surplus,” the first step in selling it.
Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty said his town had success in having contaminated industrial properties cleaned up and sold.
“I really don’t understand the concerns that if something happens, it could come back on us,” he said.
Selling the property would also leave the county needing a place to store some of its vehicles for the Office of Emergency Services. The Emergency Services director, Brian LaFlure, said about $200,000 would be needed for a basic building.