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Lewis County legislators will consider resolution Thursday to reinstate purchase offer on Lewis Lanes

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The Lewis County Board of Legislature at Thursday’s meeting will consider a resolution that would reinstate the contract for the county’s purchase of Lewis Lanes.

The on-again, off-again purchase offer — made in late 2013 on the authority of a vote of the Legislature, then rescinded just a week later — will be on again if the reconstituted board approves a resolution that will come up at Thursday’s rescheduled meeting.

The resolution offers the same three contingencies that the original contract offered: an appraisal at or above the proposed $1 million purchase price, an engineering report that is favorable to converting the building to office space and an environmental impact study that shows no environmental impediment to converting the building to offices.

In a news release issued with the Thursday meeting agenda, the county pledges “a full review by an architectural/engineering firm of building space itself as well as an environmental assessment of the property.”

“There is a need to let the process take place. The common-sense approach is to let the contract go forward,” Legislator Craig Brennan, R-Deer River, said.

In October, Legislature Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan, said at a press conference that he had received a preliminary valuation from Watertown appraiser Donald G. M. Coon III of $1.12 million.

The move in late October to purchase the bowling alley for conversion into county office space came after an Oct. 8 vote by the Legislature that rejected, 6-4, a proposal to build a $10 million county office building on Outer Stowe Street in the village. The Outer Stow Street plan was strongly attacked by village officials, who sent a letter to the Legislature voicing their displeasure with both the proposed location and the county’s failure to discuss its plans with the village.

On Oct. 28, the Legislature voted 6-4 to buy the lanes for $1 million, with the same four legislators who had voted in favor of the Outer Stowe Street project voting against the purchase of the bowling alley. Two legislators almost immediately changed their minds and within two days called for a new vote: Paul M. Stanford, D-Watson, and John O. Boyd, D-New Bremen, said their votes had been based on “misinformation” and they wanted to vote on the contract again.

When the resolution to rescind the purchase authorization came to the floor on Nov. 5, Mr. Stanford and Mr. Boyd changed their votes and the rescission passed 6-4.

On Jan. 1, six new legislators took office, potentially changing the way the majority looks at the lane purchase.

“I have to emphasize that the first board made a decision to rescind the purchase agreement on no basis. The new board recognized this and is going back to discuss the building’s suitability for the county,” Mr. Tabolt said Monday. “There’s a need for the county to go forward and there’s also a need for the new legislators to look at the prudence of the future of our spatial needs.”

The same day that the county rescinded the purchase resolution, bowling alley owners Richard E. and Derek Crouse filed suit, seeking an injunction against any county action to back out of the contract. On Jan. 23, state Supreme Court Judge Hugh A. Gilbert, in a five-page decision, denied a county request to dismiss the case but required that it proceed in a different form.

The suit had been filed as an Article 78 proceeding under the state’s Civil Practice Law and Rules; Judge Gilbert said that was the wrong law under which to file but gave the plaintiffs permission to refile under an appropriate statute.

Calls to the bowling alley Monday weren’t answered, and Derek Crouse’s wife said the family would “almost certainly” have no comment on the resolution.

Times staff writer Christina Scanlon contributed to this report.

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