Following a public auction Wednesday of the former Summit Shock Correctional Facility, the winning bidder had an unusual explanation for why he wanted to scoop up the parcel.
After placing the winning bid of $204,000, Dean Hansey, or bidder No. 3, pointed to another prospective buyer and said: “I just wanted to keep them out of it,” referring to two representatives from Oorah Inc.
Oorah operates summer camps for Jewish children and holds religious retreats on properties in the towns of Gilboa and Jefferson. For years, the camp has been involved in a lawsuit with the town of Jefferson over unpaid property taxes.
About a month ago, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court declared Oorah a nonprofit organization, rendering it exempt from paying property taxes.
Hansey, of Long Island, felt if Oorah bought the Summit Shock property, the county would lose out on thousands of dollars. He referred to the Jefferson camp in particular, saying he didn’t want Summit Shock to turn into “another Scotch Valley.”
Oorah purchased the former Scotch Valley ski resort and Deer Run condominium complex in 2009. The property consists of more than 414 acres of land off Route 10 and Scotch Valley Road.
Hansey’s connection to Schoharie County wasn’t clear, and he refused to elaborate. He wouldn’t say what he planned to do with the property.
Summit Shock is a former state correctional facility that sits on approximately 20 acres of land in the town of Fulton and has a capacity of about 250 occupants.
Eli Mintz, chief executive officer of Oorah, said he did not understand why Hansey was upset over the Scotch Valley parcel.
“We have invested millions of dollars into the area,” he said. “Our people patronize the local businesses. I don’t know why he is upset.”
The bidding kicked off at $95,000 and quickly intensified. Bidders were requested to place bids in increments of $5,000, but Mintz, or bidder No. 1, was not willing to go above his final bid of $150,000.
“I thought maybe no one else would come to the auction, and we could scoop up the property for a cheap price,” he said. “That was not the case.”
Bidder No. 2 requested to remain anonymous, but her agent, Sarah D’Angelo, said they were interested in the parcel but did not have any definitive plans if they had won the auction.
“We had tossed around 75 different ideas,” she said. “We weren’t really sure what we wanted to do.”
After Mintz dropped out, bidder No. 2 and Hansey engaged in a bidding war of their own. Each placed bids that topped the other until bidder No. 2 had finally had enough.
Hansey was required to pay a $9,500 cash deposit after placing the winning bid. The property is being sold “as-is,” according to a news release distributed two weeks ago.
Hansey and the state are now in the process of closing the purchase, which could take months to complete.
Mary Lou Garrett of Summit and about 10 other people who had no bidding interests attended the auction at the Community Library in Cobleskill.
“I thought it was very interesting and got fairly intense toward the end,” Garrett said.
Fulton town Supervisor Philip Skowfoe said he believes a new tenant in the space will be good for the town, as long as it is a positive business or organization.
“It all depends on what the buyer has in mind for the future,” he said. “It’s too soon to tell exactly, but I think it could be good.”