Village, merchants to meet on future of Sears lot

Village officials will meet with Saranac Lake businessman Paolo Magro this evening at the village offices to discuss - in public - the so-called "Saranac Parking Lot" situation.

Magro and village officials are asking for affected downtown merchants to also attend to voice their opinion.

Magro submitted a purchase offer to the current owners of the parking lot and adjoining buildings and says that he needs a monetary contribution from the community-at-large to make the deal work, asking for either a monthly payment from the village, underwriting from a new taxing district or metering by the village to make the deal fly.

Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau responded to Magro, calling him an "exemplary village businessman and citizen and we will meet with him at this short notice and ask downtown merchants to do so as well to see if we can make his deal work or not."

The limited notice arises from Magro's purchase contract contingencies - Magro says that he must give his answer to the current owners in the next few days.

During a special meeting last year, merchants voiced support for metering throughout downtown Saranac Lake, but subsequent public backlash squelched further discussion.

According to Rabideau, the current owners of the Sears parking lot demanded $265,000 for the property. The village balked at that offer, having acquired a $200,000 appraisal.

The village is prevented by law from paying more than fair market value.

Subsequently, the owners earmarked designated parking spaces, the presence of an underground fuel storage tank and exemption from parking violations for their customers and tenants, further distancing themselves from any sort of deal with the village, Rabideau says.

Referring to tonight's meeting, Rabideau says everything is on the table.

"We have trustees who feel very strongly on many points and we have village citizens with equal passion," he said.

"It is our duty to hear them all out and reach consensus," Rabideau added.

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