TUPPER LAKE – Franklin County’s attempt to foreclose the Big Tupper Ski Area property stalled in court as owners and pledges attempt to break the foreclosure.
Tupper Lake Business Group asked the city if they could lease the property from its current owners so that people can recreate the property again. Patti Littlefield, the Tupper Lake town leader who also sits on the Big Tupper Task Force’s Recreational Development Group, said she would look into this, but there are no guarantees that it will work out.
“There are more what-ifs than anything” She said.
Tupper Lakers have waited 22 years for the mountain to reopen, and some had hoped that if the county sealed off the property, the city could buy it at a discounted price.
The city built the ski area in the 1960s and operated it for two decades until it sold the property in 1987. Local businessmen Peter Day and LeRoy Pickering kept it going until they closed it in 1999 and it fell into disrepair.
In 2003, developers Michael Foxman and Tom Lawson planned to revitalize the ski area and build a resort and luxury home, the Adirondack Club and Resort, on it and the surrounding land. But after deadlocks from government agencies and lengthy legal disputes with environmentalists and creditors, the project ran out of momentum.
These litigation resulted in Foxman and Lawson owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid tax debt with Franklin County – the reason the county attempted foreclosure. In 2019, that debt totaled $ 393,198. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were also not paid to the law firms hired for these court battles – the reason for the liens that give law firms the right to own property instead of debt.
In the meantime, volunteers have revived some parts of Big Tupper, but when money ran out the mountain went dark.
The city has expressed an interest in buying the property as part of a potential foreclosure sale by the county and would have the first right to buy it from the county.
“That was suppressed” Littlefield said at a board meeting last week.
At least for now.
Property owners and law firms who have liens on the property have filed several “Service of the answers” with Franklin County Court questioning foreclosures on four properties – including the Mount Morris ski area, the site of a proposed marina on Tupper Lake. A reply service is a response to the foreclosure, and when this is the case, applicants try to get the foreclosure lifted.
Franklin County’s Treasurer Fran Perry said her office is working on a response to defend the foreclosure trial and is confident that her foreclosure efforts will be sustained.
“We have indeed obeyed all the laws” Said Perry. “We’ll go and refute your point.”
The properties were removed from the immediate foreclosure list for a district auction in May, but not completely removed from the foreclosure list.
“It’s not quite over. It’s just a little delayed. “ Said Perry.
The lawsuits were filed by a number of real estate owners and law firms.
Foxman and Lawson companies own the four properties through Big Tupper LLC, Preserve Associates LLC, and Tupper Lake Boat Club LLC “Unjust punishment.”
Perry said the LLCs received a tax certificate every January until 2013 informing them that they were due to pay delinquent taxes, but the taxes were not paid.
“It’s a pretty normal occurrence” Perry said about the service of replies. “I think it’s a delaying tactic.”
She said the answering service is making sure the county has all the “I” dots and “T” marks.
The law firms Shanley, Sweeney, Reilly and Allen, and Whiteman Osterman and Hanna, who provided services to these companies, also submitted responses, as did Bleeker St. LLC, the estate of James Robert Treadwell and James Robert Treadwell, the Baxter Group, Raymond L. Struble and Brian R. McNaught, who have mortgage liens on real property.
The response service alleges that the county did not provide a reason for the measure, did not start foreclosure within the correct timeframe, did not disclose the amount of unpaid property taxes in 2013 and 2014, and did not report payments from other sources for those taxes.
Perry said the county would file its response with Franklin County Judge Robert Main Jr. in May.
Dan McClelland, PR manager for the Tupper Lake Business Group and editor of Tupper Lake Free Press, said the group of companies hopes the city can work out a lease with the owners so they can be used for skiing, hiking, biking, and snowshoeing in the meantime could be.
He said back that when the city was running the ski center they rented the property from the Oval Wood Dish Corporation and that would be a return to that system.
“At the moment, people are using the property anyway. You enter the house. “ McClelland said. “We just want to see it in the hands of the city so that the city can pay for the insurance needed to bring it to the public’s attention.”
He said when this happened it would run on a small scale. Your long-term goal is still to find a public or private body to develop and operate the ski area. Until the ski lifts can be rebuilt, he wants people to be able to go up and down the mountain.
“It seems a shame to have such a place in the community and not open it to the public.” McClelland said. “We just want the city to be in control of it in some way.”
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