Fulton County land purchased in the fall for $ 520,000, valued at $ 721,000 in 2016 – The Daily Gazette

A proposed, but never executed, subdivision of the 35.15 acres of Town of Northampton property purchased by Fulton County for $ 520,000 in October for the purpose of installing the “Great Sacandaga Lake History Museum”, was valued in 2016 for a combined amount of $ 721,000.

In response to a request for a New York state’s freedom of information law from the Leader-Herald and the Daily Gazette, Fulton County officials provided 2016 assessment documents and a letter from the appraiser indicating its estimated value for each part of the potential subdivision of the land.

Fulton County officials announced in October that the county was purchasing a 33-acre parcel near Grand Lake Sacandaga using money from the $ 10.4 million in federal funding it received from the 2021 U.S. law. on the $ 1.9 trillion bailout (ARPA) passed by Congress and signed by President Biden in March. However, a copy of the purchase-sale agreement indicates that the area of ​​the parcel is 35.15 acres.

In August, the Fulton County Board of Directors voted 16 to 1 to approve the “Destination: Fulton County” strategic plan on how to spend federal funds, which included $ 1.2 million for building d ‘a new state-of-the-art museum. and a recreational facility to showcase the history of the modern engineering marvel that created the Great Sacandaga Reservoir. $ 600,000 has been allocated for property acquisition, engineering and design, while the remaining $ 600,000 has been allocated for the construction of the museum.

Almost immediately, the plan sparked some controversy after Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino proposed that the county convert the Sheriff’s Deputy Retirement Program from 25 years of service before receiving a full pension, to 20 years, at an initial cost of $ 880,000. , or lower payments for a higher total cost over several years.

Some supporters of the pension plan change have said that spending federal funds on economic development projects like the Northampton Museum or the Parkhurst Field Foundation’s Little League ‘Field of Dreams’ baseball project is frivolous to the demand to improve the retention of sheriff’s deputies by reforming their retirement program.

County officials point out, however, that federal rules in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 prohibit spending money on employee pension plans.

Fulton County Administrator Jon Stead said the County Oversight Board had discussed for years the possibility of trying to create a Great Lake Sacandaga History Museum, but that was the funding federal government that had proven to be the catalyst for the purchase of the property.

“The fact that the funds from ARPA came in and all of a sudden was generated for all of these municipalities, it kind of moved the project forward in a different way,” Stead said. ” We would not have [gone] cheeky. We needed funds.


The 2016 parcel appraisal was carried out by New York State Certified Real Estate Appraiser Robert Whittaker of the Whittaker Appraisal Group in Clifton Park.

Whittaker worked for the three former owners of the 35-acre parcel: Richard E. Smith, of 1 Las Olas Circle, PH2, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Robert L. Smith, with a mailing address of PO Box 152, Northville and Cynthia C. Huntley, of 1 Brumwich Road, New Hartford, Oneida County.

According to a June 24, 2016 letter from Whittaker to Richard E. Smith and Robert L. Smith – sent to 386 Seven Hills Road, Northville, listed as Smith’s address – Whittaker provided assessments for two “proposed” business divisions of the main parcel, which he described as a 35.15 acre parcel (SBL # 31.2-1-10) located on State Highway 30 in Northampton. Whittaker valued the two potential commercial subdivisions at $ 175,000 each.

“I have performed personal inspections of each of the properties, conducted market research and came to a final opinion on the market value of each,” Whittaker wrote. “Most of the weight and consideration has been given to a sale located at 2480 State Highway 30 in Mayfield, NY. This sale took place on March 28, 2015 for $ 220,000. It was a 1.60 acre parcel that was converted into a single family dwelling. After the closure, the single-family home was removed and the site was converted for commercial purposes into a retail storefront. After adjustments for the differences in topography, location and size of the site, a final opinion of value for each of your proposals [subdivision] parcel is $ 175,000.

Whittaker goes on to write in the letter that “this letter is considered to be an assessment of all of the two proposed business plots mentioned. If you need individual reports for each property, please let me know.

Fulton County provided the Leader-Herald with two Whittaker appraisal reports, one for the largest portion of the parcel, 25 acres valued at $ 230,000 and one for a smaller notional 7 acre subdivision of the land valued at $ 230,000. $ 141,000. No additional documentation beyond June 24, 2016 has been provided to reinforce Whittaker’s assessment of two additional 1.5 acre subdivisions.

Stead provided a written summary of what the county understood to be Whittaker’s assessment of four notional subdivisions of the 35.15-acre parcel:

• Segment 1 – 25 acres, $ 230,000
• Segment 2 – 1.5 acres, $ 175,000
• Segment 3 – 1.5 acres, $ 175,000
• Segment 4 – 7 acres, $ 141,000


Stead said Monday that Fulton County would undoubtedly need additional sources of funding before it could build the Great Sacandaga Lake History Museum. He said the county had already carried out part of the estimated costs of $ 80,000 to clear the land, which includes the demolition of dilapidated buildings on the property, the removal of debris, rough grading and the erection of panels to secure the site for the winter season. . He said he expects the county to retain architectural and engineering firms to begin work on the planning phase of the project in the early months of 2022.

“We don’t really have a full-time schedule for this,” he said. “It was a project that we had been talking about for some time, but we always knew we would need grants. We might need more funding at some point, depending on the cost of the products and the inflation that we see in construction products and that sort of thing. We’ll probably do this in phases with a smaller initial phase and then add it as collections. [of funding] grow up, that sort of thing.

Stead said he believed Whittaker’s assessments and the county’s plans for the location made it clear that the county had not paid too much for the plot.

“We just felt that with the proximity to the lake and the proximity to a major national road, we felt that this turned out to be a reasonable price. “

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