Rockland reluctantly pushes for 13 State Street house teardown

Posted:  Tuesday, July 10, 2018 - 8:00pm

ROCKLAND – Though some members of Rockland City Council believe that the duplex house at 13 State Street can be restored, the patience of Councilors has run thin.

A month ago, the bank, which pays the taxes on the property yet won’t proceed with foreclosure, came to the City at the figurative 11th hour. The financial institution, PHH Mortgage Corp, promised to take action. The City allowed more time. Since then, the bank representative had not returned City Manager Tom Luttrell’s phone calls.

“The situation for the neighborhood, for the abutting property owners is untenable, and it’s not going to get any better unless some sort of action is taken,” City Councilor Adam Ackor said during the Monday, July 9 regular Council meeting.

In the meeting, by a 3 to 2 vote (Councilors Ed Glaser and Lisa Westkaemper opposing), Council members voted to proceed with the structure’s demolition. 

In order to do so, they first had to amend the proposed ordinance to include a dollar amount. That ordinance now reads: “the City Manager is authorized to expend up to $10,000 from the City Land Sale Reserve Account to have the structure at 13 State Street removed, and to assess a special tax on the property to recover any funds thus expended.”

“I’m a little bit wary of someone who said ‘give me a month’ and just, like, not return your phone call this morning type of thing,” Councilor Amelia Magjik said. “If seems a little bit shifty, like we may just eventually come to this point anyway.”

In fact, the bank’s representative, Len Morley, had attended the May agenda-setting meeting and stated the bank’s approval of Rockland’s demolition route. Morley then contacted Luttrell in June to request more time, according to Luttrell.

Councilor Ed Glaser voted against the amendment and the ordinance on grounds that he is “loathe to destroy, or to have the City destroy, any building.” Instead, he requested postponement to give the bank one more chance.

The building has been inspected by several contractors, according to Ackor. Their universal opinion is that there is little worthy of saving.

“I’m in the mood to stop waiting for things,” Magjik said. “As much as I hate to see a part of history destroyed, it doesn’t seem to hold any of its own value anymore.”

Before the building is torn down, the City will work with the bank to try to get them to tend to the building on their own, Luttrell said.

“By the time we get out the RFP [Request for Proposal] and get a contract, you’re looking at probably 60 days,” he said.


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