October 19, 2011
Republican Candidate for supervisor Denise Sheehan held a press conference this afternoon where she accused Supervisor Paula Mahan of looking into selling the town's Community Center on Central Avenue.
In the Town of Colonie's tentative budget for fiscal year 2012, there is an item listed in the revenue section for the general fund for a total of $885,000. In an email to Comptroller Craig Blair, Republican Councilman Dan Dustin inquired as what exact parcels the town was interested in selling.
"There is interest in the Community Center (option of Youth Bureau maintaining their space)," Blair said in an emailed response. "This is one of the various parcels (Wolf Road and Route 9) are still being considered and this is a conservative estimate."
Sheehan came out hard against Mahan as she said that the town is using this sale as a one-shot and a revenue gimmick. The community center, she said, has a lengthy history in the town as it was sold to the town in the late 1970's for $1 by the South Colonie Central School District.
"Just like the landfill deal, the administration's plans for this building are shrouded in secrecy," Sheehan said. "These are the facts, the facts don't lie and neither do I."
Sheehan said she would not have sold the center, but said she would look to strengthening the tax base and reorganizing the way services are delivered in the town. She also said that she would work on reducing the size of government. She was not specific, though, as to what exactly that would mean but said she would focus on attrition.
"We need to be thoughtful in our approach to the way we deliver services in this town," Sheehan said. "There's a lot of duplication of effort."
Mahan clarified about the plan and said it would be a "incubator-like type set up" where small businesses would rent spaces within the building but would allow the Youth Bureau to keep it's office there.
Mahan said selling the ocmmunity is not really a secret. The idea of renting out that space has been around for quite some time as Mahan said Mary Brizzell's administration was also considering it. There was a point where a deal was almost reached, but Mahan said because of the sinking economy, the buyer had dropped out.
Mahan said the number represented in the budget was a very conservative one, as she said the last appraisal, which was done in 2008, showed the property being valued at $2.1 million. She said she is not quite sure what the property value of the center is now.
One of Sheehan's concerns was what will any of the different organizations that use the center do if the building is rented out. Mahan said there are several areas in the town that can be used and added that some of those groups rarely use the space.
"There are some that are long term and some come and then find other locations," Mahan said. "Some of these groups meet very few times or at different times of the day... A lot of the programs are held right in the schools before and after [classes]."
There are four properties under consideration of being sold which are the community center, an old highway garage, a property on Wolf Road and anther on Route 9. The town set the real sale property at a conservative estimate just in case none of these properties were successful in being sold and that there are some safety nets that would have to be used.
"There could be more revenue generated and we may have to cut back on some things," Mahan said. "There are different variables so I can't pin point one thing."