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Glens Falls residents consider Civic Center purchase

GLENS FALLS -- The Glens Falls Civic Center will go up for auction on Monday. The city said it is a burden on taxpayers. But a local group of taxpayers, called the Coalition to Save Our Civic Center, said it wants to buy it.
"I felt we struggled long enough," said Glens Falls Mayor Jack Diamond.
Mayor Diamond said that since 1980, the building has not made positive revenue. Instead, he said the city debt on it, is about $1.3 million.
"The intent of the building, was to improve the quality of life and it's done that. The problem we've run into is that the 14,000 people in the City of Glens Falls are the only ones really paying the operational debt cost," the Mayor said. "We would like to get out from not only the debt, but the operational side of the business."
The city has set the minimum bid at $1.5 million, in the hopes it can erase the debt.
If a private company buys the center, the Mayor said the city could collect tax dollars on the property which is assessed at about $7 million.
"It is significant.  More so to the school district because the school district tax rate is higher than the city," he said.
Whoever buys the Civic Center will have to honor the current contracts with the Adirondack Flames Hockey Team and the Center's management company.
But Coalition member Dan Burke told CBS6 News over the phone that the group is concerned about what happens when those contracts are up. He said another buyer could turn the center into something else, like a hotel or apartments. The group, made up of local residents and business people, wants to make sure the Civic Center remains a community space.
That's why the Coalition is raising money and members are donating their own.  Burke said that in a week the group has raised about $500,000. It will continue to raise money over the weekend and plans to bid on Monday.
If the group were to win the bid, Burke said it would have to come up with a business plan. He said it has considered looking for a private-public partnership with the county and possibly becoming a 501C3 non-profit, which is tax exempt.
The Mayor said the events, like hockey, basketball and concerts, that come to the Center do help the city economy. He said they are an asset for whoever buys the space. Interested parties he has spoken with indicated they would continue to operate it as an arena.
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