Written by Michael Scro Thursday, 24 October 2013 00:00
The East Williston Village Board of Trustees approved the demolition of the controversial 8 Sumter Avenue property on Wednesday Oct. 16, awarding the contract to J. Galvin Construction Incorporated for $28,500.
Should the board not receive a confirmation in writing that certain miscellaneous items, which a list has been devised, will be included in the demolition, a contract will be awarded to Amport Design and Construction for $61,653. Both companies submitted bids for the job last month.
Referring to the $33,153 difference in the two bids, Mayor David Tanner said that subsequent to conversations and clarifications, they “seem to be comparable in terms of the scope of work provided.” A provision on part of the bid by J
Galvin Construction is that if hazardous materials are found on the site, extra costs may be incurred.
Village Attorney Jeffrey Blinkoff also to the approved resolution that any money that is currently owed on the property that has not been recouped be transferred to the tax rolls, any further costs related to demolition be sent to the property owner, John Muzio, and upon their failure to pay, that money will be transferred to the tax rolls.
Blinkoff also added the authorization of council to initiate the recoup of those costs from Muzio or against the property, and that sufficient notification, approximately 30 days, be posted on the property to be served upon Muzio that the demolition will take place, notifying him to remove any items from the house prior to the demolition.
Tanner said the village plans to have the approximate 30 day notice be given as soon as possible.
Any items not removed will be presumed not desired to keep by the homeowner, and included in the demolition. There is not a separate bid for removal of items to be stored. To the village’s understanding, there is no one living on the property, and it is not a question of asking individuals to cease being there.
A white van was mentioned to be in the driveway of the property, which the village board said is not included in the demolition process and would have either to be towed away, or the village would be entitled to keep the vehicle there.
Residents expressed concern with the overgrown yard of the property, one referring to it as “a jungle,” and asked if that would be addressed in the demotion, which Tanner said is not included, but will be dealt with at some point.
The issue of infestation in the home was brought up at the meeting, which Muzio rejected in an interview last month. A resident said he saw a raccoon come from the property, cross his own driveway and enter his backyard.
Tanner called the demolition “a precedent setting decision,” as a house in the village has never been demolished under the given circumstances. Former Deputy Mayor James Daw, who attended the meeting, mentioned that a house was demolished in the mid 1990s after being substantially damaged by fire and deemed not inhabitable. Blinkoff then confirmed that the cost to demolish that property was recouped by the village.
Village Treasurer Michael Delury attended the meeting as well, and provided a brief financial history of costs arriving at the demolition, totaling to $16,264.
According to Delury, the village has paid an estimated $10,860 in engineering fees, primarily for the review of the house, and legal fees are estimated at $2,119. Costs for animal control, removal, repairs, the installation of locks and other general safeguarding costs for the property totals to $3,285.
Unpaid taxes and water penalties accrued through Oct. 31 total to $20,459.73. Delury said these costs can go back as far as 1995, and the largest cost will be the demolition.
Should the village award the contract to J Galvin Construction, an estimated $65,224 will be spent, and with Amport Design and Construction, the estimated costs will be $98,376.
According to Blinkoff, the village has obtained a title report, lean report and judgment report, and leans outstanding against the property amounts to $279,440. One of those is a private debt owed based upon a judgement, and the tax lean takes precedent.
In terms of the value of the property, if it was sold and presuming that the demolition takes place, a ball-park figure given by Blinkoff would be around $400,000. As of now, there is no formal documentation of this amount.
Tanner said the village does not know what the tax revenue source to the village would be following the demolition, however it will be decreased.
Blinkoff said the village has three different ways they can seek to recoup the money: through the taxes that are owed, returning to the Nassau County Supreme Court, or give notice to the homeowner and demand they will be pay, which
Blinkoff anticipates Muzio will not do so.
When asked about the possibility of further legal action from Muzio to fight against the demolition, Blinkoff said he recalled Muzio going to court most recently three or four weeks ago when the village needed to conduct an inspection of the property.
“They can go to court again, I expect that they will, and we would oppose,” Blinkoff said.
The village has explored the ability to borrow money for the demolition instead of paying out-of-pocket from the budget, which according to Tanner, was not currently budgeted due to not knowing the cost would be to either demolish or renovate the property. Tanner said the village has investigated wether to borrow, and said it is “an allowable purpose.”
Deputy Mayor Bonnie Parente summarized the ongoing issue of the property on 8 Sumter as “unfortunate that one household has caused so much expenditure, time, energy, emotion and money.”
“We need to move forward now, and we have not taken this lightly,” Parente said.