SARANAC LAKE - The North Country Community College Foundation paid the mayor's company $420,000 for two properties where a Welcome Center would be located on Lake Flower Avenue.
The price included the company designing a plan and getting it approved by the village Planning Board.
Records on file with the Essex County Real Property Tax Services office show Cedar Ridge Holdings, a development company owned by Clyde Rabideau, who's also the village's mayor, bought 431 Lake Flower Ave. from the Foster family for $160,000 on Oct. 2. Rabideau's company then sold it to the college foundation the same day for $290,000. (Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect that the college foundation, not the college, bought the two parcels. The Enterprise had previously received incorrect information from Essex County clerical staff.)
North Country Community College’s Lake Flower Avenue Welcome Center, seen here, is one of several projects on the college’s Saranac Lake campus that college officials want to fund with a $9 million bond match between the state and Essex and Franklin counties.
(Image — Cedar Ridge Holdings, courtesy of the village of Saranac Lake)
The records also show Cedar Ridge purchased 22 Colony Court from the Duffy family for $120,000 on Aug. 30. Rabideau then sold it to the college foundation on Sept. 27 for $130,000.
The North Country Community College Foundation is a tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation that gets most of its money from donations. It provides scholarships to students and faculty, and it also owns the college's Ticonderoga and Malone campuses.
Asked why the foundation paid so much more for the Foster property, NCCC President Steve Tyrell said the combined amount it paid for both properties, $420,000, was what had been negotiated with Cedar Ridge earlier this year.
"We didn't simply buy two pieces of property from Cedar Ridge Holdings," Tyrell said. "They approached us as a developer for a college entrance back in the spring semester, and they presented the cost for the purchase of both properties and other costs as a developer for us.
"They had investments in one of those properties for quite a few years, about $50,000 in property upgrades. They had a construction yard there that they put into their proposal to us in the spring about relocation costs. There were legal costs, surveying costs, engineering costs and a developer's fee. So the developer's program and acquisition of the properties total was $420,000."
Asked if the college had appraisals of the properties performed before the sale, Tyrell said he'd have to check with the college's legal counsel, Jim Brooks of Lake Placid. Tyrell said he knew Brooks had compared the property's assessed values to what Cedar Ridge was offering.
The college didn't seek proposals from any other companies before agreeing to have Cedar Ridge develop the plan for the Welcome Center. The initial plan was to have Rabideau's company build the facility, but the college later said it would put the construction out to bid.
The village Planning Board approved a revised plan for the Welcome Center in September. The decision came roughly two weeks after a majority of the board rejected a prior plan that board members said had been shoehorned into a largely residential area and didn't meet the guidelines of the village land-use code and comprehensive plans.
The revised plan puts the 4,600-square-foot building sideways in the Foster lot, along Lake Flower Avenue, with a 21-space parking lot behind it. A two-lane road is planned through the property, connecting Lake Flower Avenue to Santanoni Avenue.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.