In January 2012, Schenectady County did what the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) wanted it to do: strike a deal that would let the organization take over the old Draper School in Rotterdam to use as assisted-living apartments for 120 disabled vets. Although DAV officials indicated at the time that if they got the deal they were all ready to go, there has been no action since.
This is a worthy project, but it's been talked about for nearly three years and can't wait forever. The county was right last week to give the DAV a couple of deadlines: proof of financing within 90 days, take title within 120.
Draper School was last used by the International Charter School of Schenectady, which, although it ceased operations in 2008, technically still owns the building. The school amassed $163,000 in back taxes to the county and owed money on its mortgage to the bank, all of which put the building in legal limbo.
But the issues seemed resolved when the bank agreed to give up its interest in the building, and the county agreed to give up about one-third of the taxes due, with Metroplex paying it $50,000 and the DAV $60,000. That cleared the way for DAV to take title and get started on a $25 million project that would give disabled combat veterans the help they need and deserve, while bringing construction jobs and new residents to patronize local businesses. DAV officials said it would be the first such facility in the country and the first of nine it wants to build around the state.
It all sounds great, but for whatever reason, most likely financing, it hasn't happened. Meanwhile the building sits there unproductively, a target for vandalism that the county is paying to maintain.
The county is right to force the issue with the deadlines. If the DAV isn't ready to commit now, the building can be marketed for another use.
Should the DAV be prepared to go forward at some future date, and the building is still available, there's no reason it shouldn't get it. If unavailable, Metroplex should help the DAV find another location in the county. But it's time for a resolution to this matter now.