MALTA – Malta Supervisor Mark Hammond envisions a town park where families can picnic and people can fish or launch non-motorized boats at the former Mangino Restaurant property, which borders Saratoga Lake.
The town closed on the property on Feb. 16; the site contains almost three acres with 90 feet of lake frontage, Hammond said.
Hammond said he’s ecstatic to see the purchase come to fruition.
“That’s not to say it wasn’t challenging because I’ll tell you right up until the very last few minutes of closing it was a challenge because there’s so many dynamics involved legal and otherwise that you have to contend with, so yeah I’m beyond thrilled we’re to this point now where I can take a breath myself and say wow thank God for that now let’s get ready for the next step,” he said.
The town paid $1.9 million for the property, which includes the former family-owned restaurant, the Mangino home and other buildings. Hammond said the town used some fund balance, bonds and open space funds — money the town gets from fees it collects from developers to offset the development’s impact on open spaces — to cover the purchase.
The Mangino family is also happy with the purchase. Bonnie Mangino’s husband Rick Mangino’s grandparents opened the restaurant in 1946. The restaurant stayed in the family until it closed about four years ago.
“They’re very thrilled and ecstatic it’s going to be a park and that it will be a beautiful place for everybody in the community to enjoy once the park is finished,” Mangino said.
Hammond said the town is looking at a way to tie the Mangino family name into the park.
Hammond originally had the idea to purchase the property two years ago when he was deputy supervisor.
“It never really got any traction,” he said.
He said the community needs access to the lake, especially with developers looking to gobble up land. It would also create one of the only public accessible spots to the lake. South Shore Marina offers access to the lake to town residents — if you pay for it. However, that business is currently up for sale, Hammond said.
Hammond said now that the property has been purchased the town needs to review the site.
“Once we get in there to start going through to see what the engineers feel is salvageable — what we can use, what we can’t use — we’ll determine at that point what to do with the buildings that don’t have to be razed,” Hammond said.
He said the restaurant building may need to be torn down, but they won’t know until it’s examined.
“It may very well be that a portion of it could be saved, I really don’t know,” he said. “As you know the structures are aging, especially the restaurant that’s been there for a number of years. It’s not on a slab or anything like that, so it’s an older crawl-space type foundation and that’s it. Anything that we save is going to require work, that’s for sure.”
Hammond said he will work with the town comptroller to acquire funds for future work. One thing the town is looking at is either selling or renting one of the buildings it purchased. The building, located on 7th Street, was part of the total property acquired but doesn’t necessarily fit with the park concept the town has in mind, Hammond said.
Hammond said the site likely won’t be accessible by the public this summer.
“We’re working on that to happen as soon as possible but I can say it’s very doubtful that it will happen this year,” he said. “There’s a lot of site work that’s yet to be done — that’s yet to be determined what we’d have to do.”
He said the town is in the process of putting signs on the property, as well as cameras to try and prevent vandalism.