ILION — If Ilion Mayor Brian Lamica had his way, all homeowners would be required to have homeowners’ insurance.
If that were the case village officials would not be trying to determine the best way to take care of two properties that were damaged by fire last year.
The damage to the house at 161 Otsego St. can be seen from the back of the property, Lamica said, but the burned out house at 245 East State St. is visible to anyone entering from the east end of the village.
"The codes officer is looking into what we can do with those properties," he said, adding the owner of the house on Otsego Street lives in Texas and the owner of the house on East State Street walked away from the property. Tim Carter is the property maintenance and codes officer for the village.
"We don’t hold title to either one," said Lamica. "We have to figure out a way" to deal with the properties.
Neither owner had insurance.
"If we try to take title to the property it’s tough," Lamica said. "If it’s in the hands of a mortgage holder, it’s even tougher."
Properties are often passed from one bank to another.
"The laws haven’t kept up. The bank that holds the title should have to make repairs," the mayor said.
"My one dream is that people be mandated to carry insurance on their property," Lamica added. "If you have a mortgage you have to have insurance."
Once the mortgage is paid off, the choice to purchase insurance is left up to the homeowner and some choose not to purchase it.
"They save maybe $300 or $400 a year," said Lamica.
He added he also encourages renters to buy rental insurance.
A fire last summer also destroyed a house on Main Street, the mayor said, but the owners tore the building down.
"They had thought about rebuilding, but the cost was prohibitive. We went so far as to say the village would work with them on it, but it was too much. It’s too bad. It was a nice house, always well kept," Lamica said.
Ilion isn’t the only local community dealing with the problem.
A burned-out property on Loomis Street in Little Falls is a concern for city officials there. Some members of the city’s Common Council think the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank should demolish it, but GMVLB Executive Director Tolga Morawski said recently that the property is in county foreclosure and the county would have to release it in order for the Land Bank to be able to get involved.