SENECA FALLS — A new Italian restaurant and a performing arts center are proposed by bidders for the former village hall at 60 State St. and the former town hall at 10 Fall St.
The Town Board opened single bids for the two surplus properties Tuesday. The amounts of the bids were not revealed.
Casey and Christopher Galloway of Bradley Avenue submitted a bid for the former village hall. The Galloways propose converting the former train station building into an Italian restaurant.
Casey Galloway operates Cafe XIX at Generations Bank on East Bayard Street. She said the restaurant would have a women’s rights and women’s suffrage motif and would involve major interior renovations.
Another local resident, Becky Bly, submitted the sole bid for the former Seneca Falls Hospital Medical Arts Building and town municipal building at 10 Fall St. Bly, vice president of the Seneca Falls Performing Arts Center Board of Directors and owner of WomanMade Products. The nonprofit group wants to convert the two-story building into a performing arts center, with future plans to add a 300-seat theater.
“We’re proposing a two-phase project of renovating the interior to serve a wide variety of performing arts needs, plus the addition of a 300-seat theater for use by theater groups and the community,” Bly said. “This site overlooks VanCleef Lake and is a hidden gem.”
Bly believes the project could qualify for Downtown Revitalization Initiative funds and other arts grants.
The bids will be reviewed by Town Board members Doug Avery and David DeLelys and Seneca Falls Development Corp. Board of Directors President Joelle Murney-Karsten. They will make recommendations on whether to proceed with the sales.
In other matters at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting:
• TAXES — Robert Wayne spoke to the board about property taxes, expressing his dissatisfaction about going from no town property tax prior to village dissolution nearly a decade ago to a tax bill that now checks in at more than $1,900.
He predicted his and others’ bills would grow unless the town acts to reduce spending.
“Past Town Boards have not been friends of taxpayers,” Wayne stated. “The recreation department is up $70,000. Vince’s Park is up $57,000. I recommend you sell the park and get it back on the tax rolls. It’s a money pit and not used that much.”
Wayne questioned having a town Police Department, saying he was satisfied with police coverage by the sheriff’s office and state police.
“Having a police department is a huge cost,” he said. “I ask that you downsize government and look out for taxpayers.”
• ATTORNEY — Following a public hearing during which no one spoke, Local Law 1 of 2020 was adopted by a 5-0 vote. The legislation abolishes the position of town attorney that was established in 2017.
In a related move, the board voted 4-1 to name former town attorney Patrick Morrell of Seneca Falls as attorney for the town. Morrell’s appointment originally was approved by a 3-2 vote, with opposition from new town Supervisor Mike Ferrara and new board member Dawn Dyson. Ferrara changed his mind and voted in favor of Morrell’s appointment.
Former Town Attorney David Foster resigned after two years in the now-abolished position.
“He has a history with the town for many years. He’s local. He’s capable and will do a wonderful job. And, he’s interested,” new board member Steve Churchill said.
• RENEWALS — The board renewed contracts with Barton & Loguidice Engineers for engineering services and Bonadio Group for auditing services. Churchill cast the lone no vote on the former; he didn’t receive a second to his motion to table the appointment. As for Bonadio Group, Churchill wanted to see if other auditing firms were interested, but relented after being assured that situation would be assessed in 2020 and proposals may be sought for 2021.
• PROCUREMENT — Churchill introduced a motion to table adoption of the town procurement policy so it can be reviewed by Morrell, and the board agreed. The matter will be addressed again in February.
• GRANTS — Churchill was the only one opposed to hiring MRB Group as the town’s grant writer.