Condemnation work dragging in Fleischmanns

By Jay Braman Jr.
A recent claim that the Village of Fleischmanns never paid for property it took through eminent domain is true, but not as bad as it sounds.
That’s according to Village Trustee Todd Pascarella, who responded to a statement made last week by Gabrielle Kirch, an Andes resident who once owned the property on the corner of Depot and Main streets in the village.
Kirch was asked to sell the property in 2005, which included a 700-square-foot building, to be used as part of the village’s sewer system being built by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. She refused, and the village initiated condemnation proceedings in February 2006.
Using that process, called eminent domain in legal circles, the village acquired the property and used it for a pump station, plus renovated the building with an eye toward using it as a village hall.
When an article was published in the Catskill Mountain News earlier this month stating that the village board was no longer interested in using the structure as a hall, Kirch called for an accounting of how the money was spent.
“It seems farfetched that the cost of renovating the less-than-700-square-foot building was $235,000 unless that included the sewer plant equipment,” she said.
“Whatever the cost, it did not include the purchase of the property, since I have yet to see a dime… It is my understanding the DEP has given the village funds for the sewer project which included purchasing the property, but the village has not paid for the property to this date, despite the completion of the project.”
Pascarella, who was not on the village board at the time of the condemnation proceeding, checked into the matter last week.
He says Kirch will be paid once the proceeding is complete.
“The money’s in escrow…it’s always been there,” he said.
Pascarella said the proceeding has taken time because Kirch refused to agree to the amount of money offered her. As a result, Pascarella said, a third party must determine the value. Once that has been done, Kirch will be paid.
If that third party is an unbiased, professional appraiser, Kirch will be pleased.
“I’m glad that’s happening. We’ve been asking for that for four years,” Kirch said Tuesday, adding that the matter is still far from resolved.