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St. Lawrence County tax auction is Saturday

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CANTON -The St. Lawrence County auction of tax-acquired property Saturday in Ogdensburg will not include Massena’s Sunrise Mall because the county has not decided what to do about asbestos in the basement yet.

The county took title to the building at 50 Main St. for back taxes of about $45,000 and sold it for $5,000 at auction last year, but returned the money and never transferred the title because it determined that the sole bidder, Shakil Ahmad, was acting as an agent for the previous owner, Malik Estate, Port Jefferson Station.

The county was alerted when Mr. Ahmad told tenants to pay rent to the former owner. County Attorney Michael C. Crowe declined comment on a notice of claim Mr. Ahmad filed against the county.

The county conducted a study of hazardous materials in the building and found asbestos in the basement only. A price for cleanup has not been finalized, Mr. Crowe said. The county could clean up the contamination or leave it for the next owner.

The Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce is in the process of moving out of the building. Remaining tenants pay their own utilities. They include a tattoo parlor and a hair salon.

“We decided not to take rent to avoid the liability of being a landlord on tax-acquired property,” Mr. Crowe said.

Although the tenants do not pay rent, they watch over the building for the county, he said.

The auction of properties the county has ready for sale will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday at Lockwood Arena, West River Street, Ogdensburg. Registration begins at 9 a.m.

The county started off with plans to sell about 250 properties in foreclosure, more than the typically 100 to 150 parcels it has sold in years past. People are allowed to pay back taxes and redeem their property until the close of business Friday so parcels listed on the county’s website may not end up available for sale.

So far, more than 50 parcels have been redeemed.

The auction listing includes a number of inaccessible lots, debris-strewn parcels, and wetlands, but it also offers farmland, stores, habitable houses, storage buildings, and apartments.

Most of the property still listed is in the northeast part of the county, concentrated in the towns of Brasher, Norfolk, Potsdam, and Stockholm and in the village and town of Massena.

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