City Officials Support Abandoned Properties Relief Act

A state law to put more pressure on mortgage companies and financial institutions to maintain delinquent properties has the support of city officials.

On Monday, Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, and Vince DeJoy, city development director, discussed the Abandoned Properties Neighborhood Relief Act of 2014. Teresi said the law will assist city officials in cleaning up ”zombie properties.” He said the act would establish a statewide abandoned property registry; ensure financial institutions and mortgage companies report abandoned properties; a statewide hotline for residents to report abandoned properties; and require financial institutions and mortgage companies to notify homeowners that they can stay until a court order removes them from the house, which should help with the house being maintained during the foreclosure process.

DeJoy said the city has been asking state officials for a registry to make it easier to find information on abandoned houses.

”This will be a godsend for us,” he said.

Teresi said the law is meant to make financial institutions and mortgage companies more responsible for properties that have been abandoned.

”We will be able to put a spotlight and heat on them that will be an added incentive to get the property sold,” he said.

In other business, John Garfoot, Jamestown Community College vice president of administration, talked to City Council about two resolutions they will be voting on Monday, May 19. The first resolution deals with receiving permission to renovate the food service area at Hamilton Collegiate Center. Garfoot said the food service area was originally constructed in 1962 to handle feeding about 400 people a week. However, now with more than 3,000 students, 210 full-time staff and 340 residential beds on campus, the food service area now far exceeds its original intent.

Garfoot said three areas need to be addressed: the food preparation, food delivery and consumption areas. He said the kitchen has old ovens that don’t keep accurate temperatures and a poor food storage area that leads to some items being discarded.

”The food preparation area is not a good area,” he said.

Garfoot said the project is estimated to cost $1,540,000. He said JCC has already received 25 percent from Chautauqua County and 50 percent from the state. He said they will be approaching Cattaraugus County in the upcoming weeks, as well.

The second resolution was for permission to sell the old JCC president’s home, located at 636 Windsor St. It was decided before Greg Decinque retired last year, that the home would be sold once he did. Garfoot said JCC officials expect to get between $180,000 to $200,000 for the property. He said three families have shown interest already in buying the property. Garfoot said Tom Turner of Century 21 Turner Brokers is the real estate agent handling the deal.