ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- For at least a year, the Rockland County Legislature has been battling over the sale of the asbestos-ridden Sain Building for $4.5 million to National Development who plan to demolish the building in order to erect a new senior housing complex.
The original fight, a face-off between County Executive Ed Day and Rockland Legislature Chairman Alden Wolfe, was over how the sale was set-up without going through the Legislature.
Now, Rockland County Legislator Lon Hofstein, (R-New City), is warning his fellow lawmakers the sale might be lost after receiving an email from National Development warning that the company has decided to look at other alternatives due to the lack of progress by the Rockland County Legislature.
“If we don’t take action now, the only party that has made a commitment to purchase this property will move on,” Hofstein said. “It is in the best interests of the taxpayers of Rockland County for us to move forward with this sale.”
Michael Glynn of National Development took the action after Wolfe failed to allow a vote Tuesday on a measure proposed by Hofstein to declare the county-owned property surplus and sell the property.
“The uncertainty has led me to explore some alternative locations,” Glynn wrote in the email to Hofstein that the lawmaker forwarded to all members of the County Legislature. "The most promising alternative is still in the early stage of negotiation; if it progresses we may be a month away from committing to a deposit and moving forward, but tough to predict how quickly or slowly these things move.”
Before the end of the last meeting of the legislature, and after the amended budget was voted on, Hofstein brought up under "New Business" a resolution to declare the property "surplus" which is a required step before an asset can be sold.
In addition, he presented a resolution to sell the property. For a resolution to be placed on the agenda as "New Business" it has to be considered a matter of urgency.
Upon hearing the request, Wolfe responded, "I have a liberal point of view on what I consider an emergency but in my opinion, this is not one of those times."
"To include an asset in the budget which has not been considered a surplus and using the proceeds of the sale to pay daily operations of the county is what some of the members of the majority criticized the county executive for attempting to do last year," Hofstein said.
"This appears to be a case of 'Do as we say and not as we do,'" he added.
Hofstein said he is stymied by the way the majority are counting on the sale and the money is included in the new budget, but are blocking the sale.
"Why are the members of the majority counting on this revenue and then blocking the sale?" he said. "National Development has twice offered $4.51 million to buy the deteriorating building at 18 New Hempstead Road. The amount exceeds the appraised value by $510,000."
National Development was the only company to express interest in the property in response to both a request for proposal and a request for bid.
“Everybody wins with this deal,” Hofstein said. “It’s absurd to allow politics and petty personal differences to get in the way of doing the people’s business."
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