FALCONER – The effort to clean up rubble from a fire that broke out nearly a year-and-a-half ago in the village of Falconer continues to move forward and village officials are starting to consider possible development options for the vacant space.
On Monday night Falconer Mayor James Rensel provided an update on the matter during the village’s monthly board meeting.
Local business owner Brian Nelson was on hand for the meeting and asked for an update on how things were proceeding with removing the remaining rubble and debris from the March 22, 2017 arson fire at 42 W. Main Street.
Rensel said a required court proceeding on the matter took place last week that should help to move the clean up effort along.
“We went through the court process last week and and go the property encumbered to the extent where I think we’re almost ready to get a shovel down. Once the shovel is in the ground I just don’t want to have to stop for something that just wasn’t done correctly or we forgot to dot an ‘i’ or cross a ‘t’ so last Tuesday at court we took another step forward to get a shovel in the ground and we are getting closer to that,” Rensel said, although he wasn’t able to offer a specific timeline of when the debris would finally be removed.
Village attorney Greg Peterson also said that the village is working with the Chautauqua County Land Bank, which will provide funding for the debris removal once all legal issues have been worked out. The Land Bank’s assistance is necessary because the owner of the building didn’t have adequate insurance to cover the remediation costs. As a result, the village has been working on getting the matter addressed for more than a year.
Officials add that some developed interest has already been expressed for the property and they will continue working on identifying a new use for the vacant space in the coming weeks and months.
“We’re working on that as far as developing a village plan with the [Greater Falconer Area Economic Development Committee]. We’re encouraged because when we do get the property cleaned up, there are people who are interested in development so we’re pursuing those and setting the village development plan so it’s not done helter skelter,” Rensel said.
The March 22, 2017 arson fire resulted in 15 displaced residents and several businesses being impacted. No injuries were reported. It was one of several fires in the area that was allegedly set by Jonathan Young. His local arson cases are still awaiting prosecution, due to other charges that were also filed against him in Pennsylvania that were only recently addressed with a plea agreement.