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County transfers Dewey land to H’town

MALONE – The planned expansion of Dewey Mountain Recreation Center’s acreage is one step closer to reality.

Franklin County has transferred eight tax-delinquent parcels near the 70-acre cross-country ski, snowshoe and mountain bike center to the town of Harrietstown. The town plans to add some of the parcels to Dewey and to sell the rest.

“The county attorney is doing all the paperwork for us now,” town Supervisor Mike Kilroy said Tuesday. “When we get the properties, we have to determine what’s going to be park land. Those cannot be sold.”

The properties involved were part of Bruce Shapiro’s Dewey Mountain Village subdivision, planned on and near Mulflur Road. It was supposed to have 39 house lots, but only six sold. The county took ownership of the rest of the property – a 33-acre common area and seven smaller vacant lots – for unpaid taxes. They were slated to go up for public auction in May until the county pulled the parcels from the sale at the town’s request.

Last month, the county legislature approved a resolution transferring a string of properties it had acquired to a group of towns and villages, including the parcels Harrietstown wants to add to Dewey Mountain. There’s a combined $136,495 owed in back taxes, penalties and interest on the eight Harrietstown properties, which the town would have to pay back.

However, Legislator Paul Maroun of Tupper Lake said last week that he doesn’t think the municipalities should have to pay the penalties and interest. He’s asked county Treasurer Bryon Varin to recompute the amounts owed, subtracting the penalties and interest.

The village of Tupper Lake, of which Maroun is mayor, is acquiring a vacant lot at 56 Park St. from the county. Maroun said the village plans to turn the property, located across the street from the village offices, into a 16-space municipal parking lot. The amount owed on it in taxes, penalties and interest is more than $159,000.

Kilroy said his town hasn’t yet taken title to the properties it was transferred. Once it does, the parcels that aren’t going to be added to Dewey will be put up for sale.

“We’ve already had one inquiry,” he said. “There are people who have homes up there who may want the land next to theirs. If we sell them, we can’t make any money on them. They would have to be appraised. We’d have to get fair market value for them.”

This would be the biggest expansion of Dewey, pushing it over 100 acres, since it was created in the late 1970s. The additional acreage, located roughly to the east of Dewey’s main trail network, would provide terrain for more beginner and intermediate trails, according to Jason Smith of Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters, which manages the recreation center for the town.

Kilroy noted that the town could expand Dewey even further if it’s able to extend its trails onto the adjacent state armory property. The New York Army National Guard is leaving the armory at the end of the month, and the village wants to acquire it. The sale could be complicated by Forest Preserve issues, however.

“Dewey could be a real showcase by the time we get this thing done,” Kilroy said.