BATH | Steuben County officials are moving forward with a plan that will convert the partially-collapsed Steuben Bowling Academy into 90 additional parking spaces for the busy county office building.

The Legislature’s Ad Hoc Office Space Committee, headed up by Robin Lattimer, R-Bath, approved on Tuesday a bid of $109,000 for demolition of the structure. The bid from Ritter and Paratore Contracting of Utica includes asbestos abatement and other associated costs.

Some bids on the project were more than twice as high.

The county is in the midst of closing on the purchase of the property for $70,000, according to County Manager Jack Wheeler.

The demolition bid is contingent on the closure of the sale -- and officials want to make sure work can start as soon as that happens.

“When we give them the green light, they’re going to be there,” Lattimer said.

Wheeler said he expects the completion of the sale in a couple of months, speaking optimistically. It’s in the hands of attorneys on both sides, though he said the sellers have been very cooperative.

After that, the demolition process will take approximately two months.

Wheeler said the county’s Department of Public Works has the capacity to complete the work of creating a parking lot, though the decision to do the work in-house or seek bids is up to legislators.

He added that he’s aware of taxpayers’ concerns any time a purchase by the government will take property off the tax rolls.

“But the conversations that we’ve had are that it likely will be the county’s problem at some point in time,” he said, due to the inability of the owners to pay property taxes without the income from the business. “Short of that building [partially] collapsing, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, but the opportunity arose.”

And he said the need for additional parking at the Steuben County Office Building has become urgent, particularly with increasing court activity.

“On busy days, especially when there’s jury selection, parking is just a nightmare around here,” Wheeler said.

A collapse of a back corner of the Steuben Bowling Academy, built in 1934, occurred the evening of Sept. 29, 2018, a Saturday night when league practice was underway. No one was hurt.

Just 10 days later, the operators of the bowling center posted to their website that the facility would be shutting down permanently. They said without the cash flow from the business, they couldn’t afford to make the necessary repairs.