TUPPER LAKE - The village board is moving forward with plans to demolish a Lake Street house partially destroyed by fire a year ago, despite the property's owners moving forward with plans to do it themselves.
Village Code Enforcement Officer Pete Edwards said during a Monday public hearing on the building that the legal process will take a few months, so if Rodney and Linda Bashant haven't taken care of the house by then, the village will demolish it.
"It's kind of a last resort to do this," Edwards said Monday. "It's really the owner's responsibility."
The Lake Street home of Rodney and Linda Bashant in Tupper?Lake is flooded May 2.
(Enterprise file photo — Jessica Collier)
Village board members agreed that is the best way to go since the dispute has been extended for more than a year now, leaving an eyesore in the village.
"This has been going on way too long," said Trustee Chip Perham.
The village wouldn't take ownership of the property, but it would levy the cost of the house's demolition as a lien against the property, said Doug Wright, who used to be the village's attorney and still performs some legal functions for the municipality.
The building at 23 1/2 Lake St. is still standing after the May 2010 fire, but the front wall burned up and the structure stands open, baring rooms chock-full of severe clutter. During flooding this May, debris from the house floated out onto Raquette Pond.
According to village Mayor Mickey Desmarais, some bad things people said about the Bashants during the flooding were off base. He said they weren't around at the beginning of the flooding and that as soon as they returned to town and found out about it, they put up a fence and put on waders and tried to prevent any more debris from floating into the lake.
"Unfortunately they took all the flack for this, and that's not right," Desmarais said.
The Bashants are currently in a dispute with Reta Woods, who used to own the property and held the mortgage on it while the Bashants paid it off. When the mortgage was paid in full, Woods refused to sign off on a discharge of mortgage.
Until they have full title to the property, they can't get insurance money for the fire, which they plan to use to clean up the property, Edwards said.
Woods also lived in the upstairs apartment of the building at the time of the fire.
The Bashants filed a petition in Franklin County Court to discharge the mortgage they had paid off to Woods.
As part of the petition, there are letters from 2009 and 2010 from the Bashants' attorneys requesting that Woods sign the mortgage discharge.
The only phone number listed for Woods is out of service.