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Legislators decline to forgive loan; Shoes ruined by asbestos

Several buildings in Liberty, including the old movie theater, which is shown here, have been forced to undergo remediation because of asbestos contamination, which was discovered in the basements.
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer

By Fritz Mayer
December 19, 2012

The Sneaker World store in Liberty was only open for about month in August before it was closed due to asbestos contamination. The NY Department of Labor (DOL) investigated the building and found asbestos in the basement that had been improperly handled. DOL ordered that the store be closed, and the shoes, because they had been stored in boxes that had holes in them, be destroyed.

That pretty much put an end to owner Jesse Deitchman’s plans to expand his Monticello Sneaker World operation into Liberty. The effort, however, left him owing money to Sullivan County through a Main Street Grant, which is administered through the planning department.

At a meeting at the government center in Monticello on December 13, planning commissioner Luiz Aragon informed the county legislature that Deitchman owed the county $13,441.39 and had offered to settle the debt by paying $10,000 and asking to be forgiven the rest.

Aragon said that Deitchman also had a loan for $50,000 from the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development and that organization had entered into a settlement agreement with Deitchman, but the terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Further, Deitchman had a $20,000 loan with the Village of Liberty, but the village board decided not to forgive any of the debt.

Legislator Kathy LaBuda asked if the county had ever forgiven a debt like this in the past, and the answer was no.

Legislator Ira Steingart asked if insurance covered any of the damage, and Aragon said, “It’s our understanding that his insurance did not cover asbestos contamination.”

Legislator Alan Sorensen said if the board chose to forgive part of the debt, it would set a bad precedent, and several other legislators echoed this view, including Cindy Gieger. Gieger added, however, “It’s unfortunate because here’s a gentleman who has the wherewithal to start a store—I was in the one in Monticello, and it was nice—and there’s no way to ease the pain.”

Legislator Cora Edwards said she was also against setting a bad precedent, but now that the matter was before the legislature she was going to investigate some “rumors about the way it all went down, because it’s on Main Street in Liberty,” and the asbestos matter forced the remediation of several buildings on Main Street.