LOCKPORT – A Lockport assisted-living facility sued Niagara County on Friday in an effort to invalidate the county’s sale of its former nursing home to an assisted-living developer.
Briarwood Manor filed suit in State Supreme Court against the county and Mount View Properties, the company set up by Youngstown businessman David M. Tosetto as owner of the former Mount View Health Facility on Upper Mountain Road in Lockport.
The county closed the nursing home at the end of 2007 and listed it with a real estate broker. It took five years before anyone made an offer, and that was Tosetto, who paid $550,000 in a deal the County Legislature approved Sept. 17.
Guy J. Agostinelli, attorney for Briarwood Manor, continued to insist that state law requires the county to sell real estate through public bidding, not through any sort of private transaction.
The Legislature was going to cut Tosetto’s purchase price to $196,000 at its Aug. 6 meeting, to compensate him for absorbing the costs of asbestos removal from the five-story building, erected in 1939.
However, after Agostinelli showed up at the meeting to complain, the Legislature abandoned any notion of giving Tosetto a price break.
At the time, County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz said that decision was expected to undermine the chances that a lawsuit over the sale would succeed.
However, County Attorney Claude A. Joerg insisted last summer that the county had violated no laws, even if it had sold the property at a reduced price. He and Glatz could not be reached to comment Friday.
Friday was the four-month anniversary of the Legislature’s vote in favor of the sale. The deed was filed in the County Clerk’s Office the day after the Legislature voted.
Agostinelli told the Legislature in August that Briarwood would be interested in bidding on the property and was willing to pay more than $196,000. The attorney declined to discuss prices Friday.
Tosetto learned of the lawsuit from a reporter and called it “interesting,” but declined to comment further.
He said his project to convert the building into a 150-bed assisted-living facility is ongoing, but he won’t meet the mid-February opening date he had mentioned last summer.
“We’ll be a little delayed from that,” Tosetto said. “I think we’re set up for the spring.”
Mark Ferreri, assistant administrator at Briarwood Manor and the son of owner Salvatore Ferreri, said Friday that as far as he knows, none of the assisted-living facilities in the county is full, including Briarwood’s 160 beds.
Agostinelli said the lawsuit isn’t aimed at reducing potential competition in the assisted- living field. “My client is interested in the property,” he said.