Sept 5, 2019 | History of Site of Proposed GRJH Gas Station — Craryville Residents, Leigh McBride and Mack McCormack
History of site of proposed GRJH gas station in Craryville, NY
Researched and compiled by Leigh McBride & Richard McCormack
September 5, 2019
The site on which GRJH is seeking approval to build a gas station and convenience store has had multiple commercial uses in the past. It was once a gas station and car dealership, a fact which seemingly was never in dispute until the Chairman of the Planning Board, Bob Haight, stated publicly at a monthly meeting of the Copake Planning Board that there had never been a gas station on the site. He has made this claim more than once, most recently at the Copake Planning Board meeting on August 1, 2019. The fact that the site had previously been a gas station was acknowledged by both the ZBA and by a representative of GRJH to the ZBA. It was also seemingly acknowledged by the Copake Planning Board throughout the period of consideration of this proposal, until Mr. Haight started making the startling and unsubstantiated claim that it had never been a gas station in the past. Many lifelong and long-time community members remember well that it was a gas station and car dealership, and remember also that it was a grocery store after that. Their recollections have uniformly been in agreement with one another.
The purpose of this paper is to correct the misinformation which Mr. Haight has claimed as fact. We are able to present documentation of the usage and ownership history of this site from 1929 to the present day, with specific reference to the historic use of the site as an auto repair garage and gasoline filling station. All supporting documents were obtained from the County Clerk's Office in Hudson, New York and the archive of historic local news (newspapers) from the Roe-Jan Community Library. All aerial photographs were obtained from the USDA Columbia County Farm Service Agency Service Center in Ghent, New York. Other photographs obtained from various sources.
Chronological History of the GRJH site
Exhibit A lists the deed history for the site from 1929 to the present. In 1929, Clayton Carl, of Copake, purchased the property from Minnie E. Beardsley, also of Copake (Exhibit B). By 1936 Mr. Carl had become the Proprietor of the Craryville Garage (Exhibit C). The Craryville Garage was advertised in the Hillsdale Harbinger as being an authorized Chevrolet-Oldsmobile dealer, providing "General Auto Repairs, Gas, Oil, Tires, Accessories" and noting "Greasing a Specialty".
On December 1, 1947, Clayton Carl and his wife Doris H. Carl conveyed the deed for the property to Craryville Garage, Inc. (Exhibit D). This deed was not recorded with the County Clerk until February 14, 1950, a lengthy delay which apparently was not uncommon at that time. Concurrently, on December 2, 1947, a Certificate of Incorporation of Craryville Garage, Inc. was recorded with the County Clerk (Exhibit E).
The gas station is remembered to have been operating during the 1950s by many lifelong and longtime area residents. These residents also recall the presence of gas pumps on the premises as well as the names of some of the employees of the garage (now deceased). A person named Liz Wadman posted the following on the Copake History Facebook page: "Mr. Carl had the Chevy Dealership, Ez and Pappy Link the repair/gas station, and Sam and Roberta Flaum the Grocery Store." (Exhibit F) An undated photograph of the site shows two gas pumps in front of the southeast corner of the garage (Exhibits G). The vintage of the vehicles in the photograph appears to date this picture to the period of time during which the Craryville Garage was in operation on the site.
On December 31, 1960 the deed for the property was conveyed from Craryville Garage, Inc. to Doris H. Carl (Exhibit H). Clayton Carl, her husband and Proprietor of Craryville Garage, Inc. is known to have passed away in 1958. On the deed, Mrs. Carl is both the grantor ("seller"), signing as Vice President of Craryville Garage, Inc., and grantee ("buyer"), as Doris H. Carl.
A few weeks later, on January 16, 1961, Doris H. Carl conveyed the property to Sam and Roberta Flaum, who resided in Hudson, NY (Exhibit I). The deed states that this is "….the same premises conveyed by Craryville Garage, Inc. [to Doris H. Carl]". The Flaums had been operating the Craryville Grocery in a nearby building adjacent to the current Craryville Fire Department, which subsequently became the Craryville Post Office and is now privately owned by Timothy Heffernan (and is no longer the Post Office) (Exhibit J).
Several longtime residents recall that the auto repair garage, then operated by Ezra Link, and the gas pumps were both in operation while the Craryville Grocery was in business on the site. USDA aerial photographs taken of this area in 1967 show two gas pumps in front of the building on the site (Exhibits K1 and K2).
A photograph taken of the site in 1984 (Exhibit L) shows the Craryville Grocery on the left (west) side of the building, and the large garage door of Ezra Link's auto repair garage on the right (east) side of the building, consistent with recollections that the auto repair garage was active at the same time as the Craryville Grocery.
The Craryville Grocery continued to be operated by the Flaums on this site until January 3, 1977 when they sold the business to Frank and Ilda Pancheri, of New York City (Exhibits M and N).
While the Pancheris were operating the store at least on July 4, 1977 (Exhibit O), nevertheless on October 26, 1977 the property was conveyed by deed to Cardone, Peron, and Brown, Inc. (Exhibit P).
On January 28, 1983 the property was conveyed back to the Flaums as a result of a legal action brought by the Flaums as Plaintiffs against Cardone, Peron, and Brown, Pasquale Cardone, Elizabeth Brown, Bruce Peron and the People of the State of New York as Defendants. The object of the legal action was to foreclose a mortgage executed by Frank and Ilda Pancheri to Sam and Roberta Flaum, and to secure a sum of money plus interest (Exhibits Q and R).
Approximately 10 months later, on September 14, 1984, the property was sold by the Flaums to Alberta and Martin Gunther, of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY (Exhibits S and T). Mr. Gunther was an antique dealer and furniture refinisher, but it was unknown whether he planned to or ever did open a business on the site. However, around this time, some longtime local residents recall that there was a "flea market/antique/junk store" on the site. While it's not clear how long this store was there, there are vague recollections of "…the roof collapsing with the 'junk' in it. They boarded up the front door and that's all I remember." The site appeared to be abandoned from then until GRJH purchased it in December 2016.
The remainder of the deed history to the present day is documented in Exhibit U. There is no recollection or evidence that the site was used for any purpose involving heavy chemical load-bearing use (e.g. gasoline, lubricating oil, grease or hydraulic oil) after 1984.
The building that was on the site at the time GRJH purchased it in December 2016 has since been demolished. No documentation has been found regarding when the Craryville Garage ceased operating. Likewise no documentation has been found of when or if the tank(s) supplying the gas pumps on the site were removed. No longtime community residents have recalled the gas tanks ever being removed.
However, recent photographs of the site taken September 1, 2019 clearly show a structure consistent with a hydraulic lift of the type which would be expected in an automotive repair garage (Exhibits V1, V2, V3). More than one member of the community who is familiar with the garage from when it was active identified it as the hydraulic lift.
Alpha Environmental, a residential and commercial environmental consulting and remediation company, has the following information regarding hydraulic lifts on their website (Exhibit W, Page 1). "Many older auto repair shops have in ground hydraulic lifts and often times are forgotten about until the property is sold. Most commonly during a Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) the presence of hydraulic lifts is discovered and they are considered a Recognized Environmental Condition (REC) by most environmental professionals."
The paper also states: "Since many hydraulic lifts operate using an air/oil combination, most lifts will have a reservoir of hydraulic oil. The reservoirs can be above ground, but are more commonly found underground. They are typically buried below the control lever along the wall or next to the hydraulic lift itself. The capacity of the reservoirs typically ranges from about 30 to 50 gallons."
The paper further goes on to describe different types of hydraulic lifts which have historically been installed in auto repair shops, and the methods for evaluating and removing them. The paper then concludes: "Almost all banking and financial institutions now require [soil] sampling of hydraulic lifts as part of the environmental due diligence process. This is often accomplished by drilling a single boring adjacent to the hydraulic lift. While this is one of the best methods we have for determining a potential leak, it is not uncommon to encounter additional contaminated soil during the removal process. Often we find the lifts themselves are intact and leak free, but small movement in the piping has caused leakage. It is also not uncommon for a bank to require the lifts be removed prior to loaning money on a property."
Please note that the hydraulic lift with the old car on it pictured on the Alpha Environmental site (Exhibit W, page 2) is similar if not identical to the photograph of the hydraulic lift currently on the site.
In summary, there is substantial publicly-accessible documentation that the site of the GRJH proposed gas station was used in the past as a car dealership, auto repair garage and gas filling station, all businesses which involve heavy chemical load-bearing use. The documentation for this is presented in the attached exhibits. This paper was written for the Copake Planning Board to redress the misinformation that the site had never been a gas station, a claim which the Chairman of the Planning Board, Mr. Haight, has made publicly several times, and for which he has never offered any substantiation.