SSI hires attorney, architect for Imperial Baths


By Patsy Nicosia

Sharon Springs Inc, owner and maybe-developer of the Imperial Baths, has hired both an attorney and an architect to help them jumpstart the process.
No one was surprised when investors were no-shows at Wednesday's Planning Board or Thursday's village meeting.
But Deputy Mayor Doug Plummer said slowly, it looks like there's "some forward movement."
Mr. Plummer said he'd spoken with SSI spokesman Aidan Han, who said it'll probably be another eight weeks before they have something formal to present to planners.
But that's good news.
"For the first time, they're being realistic," Mr. Plummer said.
In April, Mr. Han had promised to bring "something solid" to May's meetings; the fact that he's realized he needs more time-and that SSI has hired both an attorney, Joanne Crum of Cobleskill, and an architectural and engineering firm-shows that they have a better idea of the project's real scope, Mr. Plummer said.
Mr. Plummer said Bill Bateman, architect for the first version of the spa restoration, has finally been paid and Planning Board Chairman Ray Parsons said he's confirmed with Ms. Crum that she's been paid a retainer as well.
Village attorney Michelle Kennedy suggested the village ask both Ms. Crum and the newest architect how much of a retainer they've received from SSI and what their hourly rates are, something she hopes they'll provide as an act of good faith.
That kind of information, she said, could be an indication of how serious SSI is.
There are still more questions than answers on the project, though.
Though Empire State Development, which in 2005 awarded the village a $1 million Restore NY grant for the baths, has backed the possibility of awarding the project-and grant-to other developers, Ms. Kennedy said it's been impossible to get a consensus on how best to do that.
It's unclear, she said, if the project could be bid as one job-or if the individual components, like electric, plumbing, cooling, and heating, would have to be bid separately, something that could make payment through the Restore NY grant a nightmare and something that could make contractors reluctant to get involved.
Because there's some movement on the SSI front and because she's still waiting for some consensus, Ms. Kennedy suggested holding off on advertising for someone else to take over the project.
"We need to have clear direction from Empire State Development," she said.
Especially given problems in the Town of Richmondville, which is asking the state to look into whether a Restore NY grant awarded at the same time as Sharon's was spent appropriately by Stella McKenna's Marantha Family Center.
The issue there centers around an old barn-a key piece of the $2.3 million grant-that was torn down during the sports center's construction.
Mr. Plummer said he was surprised to see that SSI's approved grant application was "surprisingly vague."
It just speaks to restoring three structures, he said, and not whether the work is intended to be structural-or just fa├žade.
Though SSI thinks it has carte blanche to do what it wants, he said, that might not be the case-and it's something that could come back to haunt the village.