By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO January 14, 2003 After more than 20 years, the rocky ride of the Apollo Plaza is about to come to an end.
Later this week, the Village of Monticello will condemn the mall, according to Mayor Gary Sommers. When that happens, no one will be allowed in the building until it is brought up to code.
It is unfortunate, Sommers remarked yesterday. The village has made every effort to help those businesses over the last six months. My door is still open to any of them for anything I can do.
Over the past year, the situation has degenerated to the point where no one was even sure who the owners of the mall were. Even after the property was auctioned off earlier this year, there was still doubt about who owned it. In fact, according to Village of Monticello Building Inspector James Artale, the village has been unable to contact the owners.
After checking the ownership with the county, they were given a Post Office box. Artale sent several registered letters yet received no response.
The violations on the building and the surrounding property were numerous, said Artale, including no access to the rear in case of emergency, large potholes in the parking lot, no heat in the building, a lack of inspections on the sprinkler and alarm systems, and major problems with the roof.
Artale has been meeting with the store owners that are left and keeping them apprised of the situation.
I will meet with them this morning, Artale said over the phone yesterday morning. I am working on writing up the order. It should be condemned by mid-week or the end of the week.
Besides Sommers, Town of Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini and the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce, among others, have been assisting the affected stores.
We are working with several of the businesses to relocate them, remarked Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Jacquie Leventoff. We are looking at locations throughout the county. We want to give them options.
The holdup in condemning is the paperwork, said Artale. This year, New York State changed their building codes. Artale is transferring the old code to the new code, hence the delay.
At one time, the mall had over 40 stores in it. It is now down to six. Many stores in the last few months have either relocated or closed completely.
For more on this story, including store owners reactions, please see Fridays edition of the Sullivan County Democrat.