Land bank OKs buyer for property

Greg Klein The Daily StarA multi-unit property at 20 Lake St. in the village of Richfield Springs will be sold to a developer who will renovate it. The Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank bought the abandoned property from Otsego County in 2018, a year after the county seized it for delinquent taxes. 

The Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank has approved a buyer for its property at 20 Lake St. in Richfield Springs, completing the organization’s first project in Otsego County. 

“We had some excited news since the last time I spoke,” GMVLB Executive Director Tolga Morawski told the county Board of Representatives’ Administration Committee on Monday, Dec. 21. “We now have a buyer for 20 Lake St. in Richfield Springs. We had showed (the property to) many potential developers. We had three apply. They were very strong applications.

“We did select one at our last board meeting,” he said. “They will have a year to finish, I believe, the first eight apartments that they are putting in. I believe it is a strong application and we look forward to getting it back on the tax rolls in the very near future.” 

“Thank you for that,” Rep. Keith McCarty, R-Richfield, Springfield, said to Morawski. 

The multi-unit property was acquired by GMVLB in 2018 and listed on the land bank’s website for $24,900. Otsego County had seized it in 2017 because of more than $30,000 in back taxes owed on the property. 

Morawski briefed the committee members on the sale while requesting the county’s 2020 and 2021 allocations to the nonprofit, which was established in 2016 to return abandoned, blighted properties to local tax rolls, and includes Herkimer, Montgomery, Otsego and Schoharie counties, as well as the cities of Rome and Utica. The committee unanimously approved the payments, although all county payments to outside organizations were cut 15% across the board in 2020 and for the 2021 budget. 

In addition, the committee unanimously approved Oneonta Code Enforcement Officer Stephen Yearly as a member of the GMVLB’s Board of Directors. Yearly replaces Judy Pangman, Oneonta’s director of community development, as the city’s representative on the land bank board.

As part of the same motion, the committee approved the reappointment of Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick, Milford, New Lisbon, to the land bank board. Kennedy is the chair of the Administration Committee and the vice chair of the county and lank bank boards. 

According to its website, GMVLB also owns and is selling Otsego County properties in Cherry Valley (8 Lancaster St.), Oneonta (18 Cherry St.) and another site in Richfield (26 Canadarago St.). 

Go to www.gmvlb.org for more information. 

The meeting was held via Zoom, because of the coronavirus pandemic and can be viewed on the county’s Facebook page. It was postponed from Thursday, Dec. 17, because of a snowstorm that closed county offices. 

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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