ELIZABETHTOWN - A Keeseville man is upset that the Essex County Board of Supervisors denied him a winning tax-auction bid on the former Frontier Town theme park in the town of North Hudson.
The four-lot Frontier Town parcel was the first bid to be discussed at Monday's board meeting. Frontier Town was a Wild-West-themed amusement park that closed in 1998.
George Moore of Keeseville, who was not at the meeting, had submitted the highest bid of $49,500. The properties had $146,379 in taxes and penalties owed, according to county Manager Dan Palmer.
Town of North Hudson Supervisor Ronald Moore (no relation to George Moore) asked the board to reject George Moore's bid and instead allow his town to buy the properties.
"We're willing to pay $60,000 on the property," Ronald Moore said at the meeting. "We will use it for recreational purposes."
After a roll-call vote was taken, the bidder's claim to the property was rejected by a unanimous board decision. Supervisor Gerald Morrow of Chesterfield was absent. At the end of the month, the Ways and Means committee will vote on final approval to transfer the property to North Hudson.
George Moore said he planned to resell the property after cleaning it up first. He is currently having his lawyer look into ways he can fight the decision.
"I'm going to do anything I can so they do the honest thing," George Moore told the Enterprise in a phone interview. "I was high bidder, and they decided to give it to someone else, and that is not the proper thing to do."
Ronald Moore told the Enterprise after the meeting his town plans to connect an anticipated snowmobile trail to Newcomb with the adjoining Frontier Town property and also use it for business development. Town officials set up a committee to discuss the issue and decided they did not want to sell the properties unless the bid matched the amount of delinquent taxes. He said the town will likely purchase the properties from the county for $50,000.
"The town has expressed interest in acquiring the property over the last several months," Ronald Moore said. "When I saw the price so low we figured we could put it to better use."
Of the 105 winning bids made on foreclosed properties at the auction, 99 were approved by the board. There was just under $1 million raised by the county last week at the auction. There was $1.4 million in delinquent taxes and penalties owed to the county.
Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said the idea of taking the sale from the bidder concerned him.
"It was an auction, and now we are going to pull it our from under them," Scozzafava said.
North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi said he would vote in favor of what he thought is in North Hudson's best interest. County Treasurer Mike Diskin was later asked to address the board. He said he is opposed to the principle of taking the properties out of the free market.
The board then discussed the legality of the decision, asking the county Attorney Daniel Manning III for his opinion.
"It's well within our authority to do this for any reason whatsoever," Manning said.
Schroon Lake properties
Two other Schroon Lake bids were put on hold by the board, but not rejected. Brian Caza of Schroon Lake won the two small properties, about 1.3 acres, for $4,500.
Town of Schroon Supervisor Mike Marnell said he had to talk to the buyer about an easement on the property for snowmobile trails before the board could vote on a decision.
"The trail goes through the lots there side by side," Marnell said. "It would disrupt the whole trail otherwise and wouldn't work."
Marnell said he will attempt to work things out with Caza so the trail can still exist and so the lot will be useable.
"I don't think it will be an issue," Marnell said.
This marks the second year in a row the county held a tax auction. Prior to that, the most recent auction was in 2008.