Hammondsport approves Curtiss school sale, with objections
HAMMONDSPORT—The Hammondsport school board accepted a contract to sell the former Glenn Curtiss Memorial School to the town of Urbana by a three to two vote, Wednesday, Jan. 19.
Urbana was one of three applicants who submitted an offer on the building. The other two were Dale and Carmen Kramer, Hammondsport business owners, and Peter Krog, director of the Krog Corporation. Both Urbana and the Kramers offered $300,000 for the building while Krog offered $350,000. The property was appraised at $174,000 in March, 2010.
All three offers included some contingencies for the sale. Superintendent Kyle Bower said the town’s contingencies were an environmental site assessment, physical engineer’s inspection, subdivision approval by the town if necessary, and approval by district voters if required. The Kramers’ contingencies were asbestos testing, physical engineer’s inspection, and approval by district voters if required.
Krog’s contingencies were a joint venture agreement with Arbor Development, a market study, engineer’s test, soil testing, zoning review, confirmation the property is not located on a flood plain, and a final determination the property would be suitable for the company’s needs.
Board members Jim Zimar, Richard Drain and Nancy Torp approved the sale to Urbana. Francis Curran and Christine Kolo voted against it. Bower explained the board resolved two and a half years ago that the buyer of the school must “maintain the community feel of the Curtiss School.” He added, “the ultimate hope is the building is fully utilized.”
However, Bower said he doesn’t know what the town intends to do with the property; the school board did not ask for business plans. Urbana Supervisor Gordon Lanphere said the town created a committee a month ago to decide just that.
He explained the committee is advertising for members and ideas. Lanphere said the town’s options include possibly renting out the space. He said the town did not budget for this purchase, but that the money was available.
There were half a dozen Urbana residents at the Jan. 19 school board meeting who objected to the sale. The concerns expressed included the added tax burden the purchase would cause and the cost to operate and maintain the building. Erwin Robinson, Pete Yartym, and Tom Chadwick raised the possibility of a petition and referendum vote to overturn the board’s decision.
Bower and school district attorney Kevin Overton explained that by law residents may present a petition within 30 days of a board’s action to try and overturn the decision. There are about 4,500 voters in the school district. A petition with valid signatures from 10 percent of residents means they would vote on approving the sale or not.
Carmen Kramer said as a taxpayer she would be in favor of such a referendum. She explained she was disappointed the board did not choose her and her husband.
“In this economy I prefer to foster small business,” she said.
That is she why and her husband made an offer on the building. The Kramers own Custom Manufacturing Inc. which produces archival storage containers. It is a business located in Hammondsport, but Kramer added it has customers outside of the area and even some outside of the country. She said as a private buyer the property would go back onto the tax rolls.
When Urbana takes ownership of the property, it will still remain off of the tax rolls. Urbana Assessor David Oliver explained if a private party purchased the building at $300,000 the property taxes would equal $7,152. This is using the latest school and municipality rates.
Kramer added that they want the space to expand business. The couple has also offered use of the gym to the school if Hammondsport’s student numbers increase again in the future. Kramer added she and her husband are aviation enthusiasts so they would honor the memory of Curtiss.