Saugerties wants homeowners to demolish or restore abandoned houses more quickly

508 York St., Malden

At a special meeting on October 18, the Saugerties town board was told that there  are five or six so-called zombie houses that they are going to have to deal with in the coming months.
Contrary to rumor, zombie houses are not places where the undead hangout waiting for the living to visit so they can harvest their brains. They are houses abandoned by their owners because they can no longer pay their mortgage, and then by the companies that hold those mortgages because the house and property are not worth fixing up.

One such house at 508 York Street in the Malden section of the town. It has been abandoned for seven or eight years according to neighbors.

This is the home that was the subject of the special meeting as the town board sought to someone willing to promise to fix up the dilapidated home. Showing pictures of the home that house broken windows, open doors and a deteriorating porch, town building inspector Alvah Weeks said that something needed to be done. The owner would have to close up the building, or the town will have the place bulldozed. The county would put the property up for sale. Any money that comes from the sale of the property would go to the town to pay for the demolition.


The process the town has in place to do something with a zombie building is long and drawn out, says councilman Fred Costello. A new law is needed to speed things up. Neighbors of the York Street house say whatever the town could do would be a great help.

Catharine Clarke said she and neighbor Maryellen Mietus had been working for years to find out who owns the house. “The building is always open,” Clarke said. “I’ve called the police a number of times because this place is a fire and safety hazard. But they say there is not much they can do.”

“This place just seems to be getting in worse shape all the time,” Mietus added.

If no one comes forward in the coming weeks, Weeks said the town will go to bid to have a contractor knock the house down.

That ought to take care of this particular house. Without a Saugerties law in place to expedite the process, however, neighbors are likely to have to keep complaining about other zombie houses.

There are 4 comments

  1. Michael Sullivan Smith

    The solution is boilerplated into the code. The house is closed up by the Town under the authority of the building inspector. If he does not do that the neighbors can bring a suit against the town to force it to follow the law. The payment for both the suit and the work to make the house safe is in the appendix to the code. There is no consideration of demolition in the safety codes, just remediation of the problem and adding the cost to the property’s taxes. It is the same for the village. I know of no change that has been made to the mandates the state puts in municipal law that has removed this, but I think someone who is paid to do know the law should read the code and inform me if I am wrong.

  2. NYArtist

    There are several houses in Malden that need to be demolished as well as lawns cut. Why isn’t the town enforcing the lawn cutting code?

  3. NYArtist

    Before demolishing, remove all the good things about the house that are still intact..that’s a really old house. The people who lived there before raised cats..tons of them so the house probably stinks of cat and mold combined. Best to remove the good parts, save and demolish. Maybe put up a tiny house with a beautiful river view.

    What does the town want for the house?

Comments are closed.