Allegany Co. committee moves toward Tronetti House demolition

BELMONT — Allegany County lawmakers moved Wednesday toward removing valuable woodwork from the former Tronetti House in preparation for demolition.

The county Board of Legislator’s facilities committee voted 5-1 in favor of writing a request for proposals to remove millwork — the wooden staircase, fireplaces and other woodwork — from the house at 25 Court St. Legislator Norm Ungermann, R-Cuba, voted against the proposal.

The discussion came after a review of the site for asbestos, which found the carcinogenic compound in thousands of square feet of siding, ceiling and floor tiles, and duct coatings.

The 3,656-square-foot house was built in 1889. The property was purchased by the county in 2009 from the Tronetti family for $82,000.

The removal of valuable woodwork and windows from buildings to be demolished is not new for the county.

“I could use the RFP (request) from the museum as a template,” county Department of Public Works Deputy Superintendent Dean Scholes said, referring to the former Allegany County Museum, which was demolished in 2015.

Legislator Kevin LaForge, I-Wellsville, who is not on the committee but was in attendance, said the demolition cost of the house would likely be between $30,000 and $40,000. LaForge owns LaForge Disposal Services, which has contracted with municipalities to demolish homes with asbestos.

Legislator Karl Graves, R-Wellsville, suggested the county look at selling the property, but a vote on the proposal was defeated 4-2, with Graves and Ungermann supporting.

Legislative Chairman Curtis Crandall, R-Belfast, said selling the property would not line up with the original reasoning behind the purchase.

“The whole idea was to have wiggle room and parking on the lower level,” Crandall said, adding the county rents a parking lot across the street for overflow parking.

Another problem is access to a garage behind the house, which the Board of Elections uses to store voting machines. Republican Elections Commissioner Rick Hollis said access to the garage is already a problem with cars parked too close to the driveway entrance, and having to share the driveway with a residence could cause problems.

And with the asbestos and a colony of feral cats living in the house, finding a buyer could be difficult.

“I can’t imagine anyone would want to look at taking it over with that much asbestos,” said Legislator Dwight Fanton, R-Wellsville.

Legislator Mike Healy, R-Belmont, said that if a buyer took over the property but could not afford the asbestos removal or other needed renovations, “more than likely, we’d end up with it down the road again.”

Committee member Charles Jessup, R-Alfred Station, said the county needs to act on the property.

“Every time we sit down and talk about it, we kick it another month,” Jessup said, suggesting the county would be better off tearing down the house and keeping the property as a parking lot.

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