Some old houses are being leveled in East Palmyra and some wells are being dug up with big construction equipment, prompting speculation.
One by one, several old houses in the hamlet of East Palmyra are coming down. They are in bad shape — beyond chipping paint and leaking roofs — and repairing them would have cost more than their current worth, according to owner Jim Cleason.
So far, four of the dozen or so homes that Cleason's company, Abram Cleason Co., owns on Whitbeck, Palmer, Tellier and Hogback Hill roads have been demolished or leveled through controlled burns. Three or four more face similar fates in the coming months, he said.
The removal of the homes, combined with the recent addition of well-digging equipment on Cleason's land, have prompted all kinds of speculation. Rumors hold that Cleason's longtime family-owned business had fallen on hard times and is going under or that the tenants of the homes were forced to move out because the land is contaminated.
"Everybody has said I've been bought and sold in the last three weeks," he said.
The contamination rumor, Cleason speculates, arose from the heavy equipment that he brought in over a week ago. On the tail of the groundwater-pollution controversy in Victor, that's the last thing he wants anyone to think.
He said he is required by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to monitor the groundwater level because of his company's mining operation. The equipment was brought in to dig up wells "strictly for checking the water level," he said.
And as for the homes coming down, Cleason said he had little choice. He had an inspector take a close look at each of them. After that, Cleason decided to spend some money to fix up two houses — but he only wound up repairing one: Not long after, all the plumbing in the second fixer-upper was stolen, possibly to be sold for cash to a scrap-metal yard.
Those homes slated for demolition would have been too costly to repair, Cleason said.
"If it's going to cost me more than it's worth, it's going to come down," he said.
The only tenants Cleason said he has evicted are a few who did not pay their rent. A few other tenants were put on notice that their homes were coming down, he said.
Jessica Pierce can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 250, or at email@example.com.