Report: owner of tax-delinquent inn wants to house migrants in Massena

Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 4:29 PM EDT
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MASSENA, New York (WWNY) - A New York City man who owns a north country motel wants migrants to be housed at his Massena property.

Massena Quality Inn owner Gary Melius wants New York City’s mayor to send migrants north and fill up the 115-room property on West Orvis Street, according to a New York Post article Sunday.

It could be as many as 180 people.

In the article, Melius says he sent a letter to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, calling the Quality Inn an ideal place for migrants.

The Post article says hotel owners who provide space for migrants are paid with taxpayer funds at an agreed-upon rate.

Melius told the Post, “The hotel is in the center of town. You don’t need any transit once you get here. This would be very good for me, it would be very good for the city and very good for the migrants. It’s a win-win.”

Massena Mayor Greg Paquin doesn’t see it as a ‘win’ for the village.

“We just don’t have the resources necessary to help them. We don’t have the food, we don’t have the housing, we don’t have the medical. We just don’t have that and I trust in the fact that the New York state government wouldn’t send a group here where they would be set up for failure - where we would be set up for failure. That’s just not going to happen,” he said.

Local officials say there’s another more pressing issue with the Massena motel - its owner owes more than three years of property taxes. Melius has until Thursday to pay the $300,000 bill.

“The delinquency is actually fairly extensive. The delinquency from those three years combined at the moment and it continues to increase every day it goes by that they don’t pay is a little over $380,000 right now,” said St. Lawrence County Attorney Stephen Button.

Button says Melius was sent multiple notices over the past three years to pay his taxes and that he had already missed the original due date. The county gave him an extension to August 10.

If the property taxes aren’t paid by Thursday, then the Quality Inn becomes property of the county and could head for auction in September.

7 News was unable to reach Melius for comment.