Supervisor's Column for August 24, 2022
Progress on 600 Ridge Road- Webster Furniture Strippers
Over the past 3 years that I have either been campaigning for Webster Town Supervisor, or have been the Supervisor, I have heard from over 500 Webster citizens on 600 Ridge Road. The common denominator of those discussions were disgust at the condition of the building and why is something NOT being done to remedy it? This is my 4th Supervisor's Corner article since 2020 focused on 600 Ridge Road, the old Webster Furniture Strippers, and the West Webster Hamlet that is affected by it. In the past 3 articles I have chronicled the sad history of this property the past 20-years that have led to its decay. The 2 main factors to that history and why nothing has been done for 20 years are 1. lack of multi government agency cooperation to effectuate a remedy, and 2. the unknown environmental situation at the property.
Over the past 2+ years, the Town of Webster leadership and legal counsel have been researching various strategies to address 600 Ridge. Within that process, it became clear that Monroe County Government had the "direct" tie to this property via their Real Estate tax foreclosure process. Simply said, 600 Ridge is privately owned. If the owners don't pay their town, school, and county taxes for 3-4 years, the county will initiate the foreclosure process. That started back in the circa 2005 time-frame. However, when no one bought the property at auction, the county within their rights decided to "not take title" due to concerns with unknown environmental issues that may be on site. As such, the property went to auction every year for 10-15 straight years, and every year no one bought it, and every year the county decided to not take title and let the private owner retain the title.
The Town leadership and legal counsel have been working with Monroe County leadership and legal counsel to figure out a strategy that could both 1. take the unknown nature of environmental issue out of the equation and make it KNOWN, and 2. do so in a manner that minimizes or eliminates the Town and/or County government liability on any environmental issue remediation, should any be manifested. On August 4th at the Webster Town Board meeting, a resolution was passed that has the Town of Webster entering into an Intermunicipal Agreement (IMA) with the County of Monroe, wherein the Town will pay the approx. $22,000 for Phase 2 environmental testing at 600 Ridge Road, and the County will go through the legal process of getting "temporary control" of the property so that said testing can be done. Armed with the August 4th Town resolution, the Monroe County Legislature has started the process to approach the appropriate court to get the "temporary control" so that the Phase 2 environmental testing can be done. It is estimated the County Legislature process on this will be completed in mid to late September and testing will be done in October.
In summary, they say it is always darkest before dawn. As this pertains to 600 Ridge, the condition of the property in August 2022 looks as bad as it has ever looked in the past 20 years, with weeds and overgrowth encompassing the building. The milestone actions on this property in the next 1-2 months will go a long way to the final resolution on this property. That in turn could spawn redevelopment in the whole West Webster Hamlet that is centered at Ridge and Gravel intersection. As always, feel free to call me at 585-872-7068 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org