St. Lawrence County makes strides with ‘zombie properties’

wwny St. Lawrence County makes strides with ‘zombie properties’

ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY, N.Y. (WWNY) - They are more than just zombie properties. They are toxic zombie properties. Some are on prime commercial routes. There was a time when nothing could be done.

“They would just sit there. The county wouldn't foreclose on it so they would just be in limbo,” said Steve O'Shaughnessy, Massena town supervisor.

But limbo is over for many. A county program is working to get properties back on tax rolls.

“So if we are able to fix this up, clean it up and get it back on the market, hopefully it will look a lot better,” said O’Shaughnessy.

Many were former gas or service stations. St. Lawrence County gets temporary ownership. That allows the state to do environmental investigations – followed by cleanups.

There are properties like this in every corner of the county. The county is approaching a milestone having acted on almost 50 of them so far.

Once they are clean, the county can take full possession and sell them. Rehab is already well underway on some such as the former Slavin building in Massena. Several other properties in the same area have also been cleaned up.

“We’re looking it as far as economic development but also community development,” said O’Shaughnessy.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently did extensive cleanup at the former Stan Smith’s auto salvage yard on Route 11 in Potsdam. Town officials still have concerns.

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