The Old House at Steve’s Lane
By Ray Smith
From Issue 8: Fall 2010
“It came up for sale on a county tax sale. There’s a provision in the county law that lets towns put a claim on something before the auction. We applied. It was granted and taken off the auction and I got it for the basic tax amount.” That’s how Supervisor Joe Katz describes Gardiner’s acquisition of the old house at the corner of Steve’s Lane and Dusinberre Road. The property was acquired by the Town in July 2009 for $12,196.
Some work has already been done to the property: trees and brush have been cleared to provide better sight lines for traffic entering and leaving Steve’s Lane, the corner has been cut back to facilitate turns by oversized rigs and a parking area has been created at the rear of the property. Since it is adjacent to the rail trail, it is hoped more rail trail users, especially horse trailers, will park here rather than in the more congested areas of the hamlet.
On advice of counsel, however, the hundred-year-old house on the property will not be touched until two years after acquisition, after which period the ability of others to lodge claims to the property will have expired and the town’s title will be clear.
“At the end of that two year period the town will have to make some decisions about the house,” says Joe. “We have not done a real analysis as far as structure goes. The alternatives are: knock it down, sell it or have it rehabbed as affordable housing.”
When asked about repairing the building, Joe responded, “There are some really pretty details in the house. But I can’t tell you structurally. I just don’t know.”
Summarizing his views, Joe said of the acquisition, “It’s the kind of thing that just happens once in a generation. A key piece of ground that would be good for the town was available. And the fact that it was almost an acre and had a house on it—and we got it for $12,000—I thought was a very good investment for the town.”