The village of Wellsville is set to take ownership via tax sale, then what ?
By Andrew Harris
Wellsville has had lots of time to dream big lately: A manufactuaring renewal, retail development, and the recent $4.5 million dollar economic development grant are just a few major bright spots.
Emerging from a long period of economic decline, population loss, and uncertainty is very exciting for Wellsville, but it will be a lot of work. One of the burdens that our local leaders will have to bear is managing the rebound and the state funding matrix. While the news has been great for Wellsville, the work is just beginning.
Village of Wellsville and Allegany County elected officials are about to approve starting that work by reclaiming the Grand Theater(Lin-Ray Twin Cinemas) for back taxes. Normally a property that hasn’t paid property tax in three years is placed up for public auction and purchased by a new owner. In this case the village of Wellsville is taking advantage of a legal option provided to municipalities which allows the village to take ownership before the auction begins. On Friday the village filed the paperwork with Allegany County and the Grand Theater is expected to be removed from the auction this week.
Then what? Mayor Randy Shayler makes it clear that the village isn’t taking title to the property as an investment. “This is a defensive move.” Shayler has insisted, intended to protect taxpayers and residents from another “Burrous Building” nightmare.
For those who need a memory jog on the “Burrous Building” debable: The building sat vacant for years and suffered multiple structural failures. The property had been placed on the tax auction and someone purchased the building for the price of a used car. Surely the buyer thought that the low price would allow for rehabilitation and renewal of the building. But that wasn’t so. The costs to just stabalize the building from collapse were more than the new owner could bear. Soon the property, a massive building on the south end of the business district, was literally falling in to the street. Then Mayor Judy Lynch made restoring the building a priority and was able to obtain NYS funding with the help of then Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. Today the building is fully occupied by the Village of Wellsville, Alfred Housing, and residents of the second and third floor apartments.
The “Burrous Building” saga ended well, but after years of hard work and a small fortune spent on avoiding disaster. Mayor Shayler doesn’t want to risk a repeat of that scenario.
The first step for the village is to secure deed to the property and take control of the future decisions. Will a perfect investor emerge and buy the property from the village? Will the village oversee the restoration and then become a landlord to one or more businesses ? Maybe the village will continue to own and operate a dynamic community center ?
At this point, all ideas are on the table. We’ve given you a few choices but also left this poll open to your specific input. Just remember to keep custom response down to less than ten words.
Hart’s Jewelry, ironically a next door nieghbor to the theater property, is our weekly poll sponsor!! If you stop down to check out the old “Lin-Ray,” stop in to Hart’s and say hello!! You just might find something irresistable in the case or remember to drop off that old Rolex that needs repair. Yes! Hart’s does watch repair, cleaning, and a host of other services you can find more about at, HartsJewelry.com.