The property housing Belgrade Canoe and Kayak is off the sale block.

Owner Ralph Ardito Jr., who also lives in Belgrade, paid all the back taxes — just under $6,000 — owed to the Town of Belgrade, which was moving forward with a foreclosure sale.

Ardito had been in danger of losing his Belgrade Canoe and Kayak business for failing to pay three years’ worth of real estate taxes. The business, which has a handful of colorful kayaks displayed outdoors, is in a high-profile location At 1005 Augusta Road, also Route 27. It sits near the turnoff for Routes 8 and 11, across from the post office in Belgrade and not far from the new Town Office.

Belgrade officials had voted March 20 to advertise the 1.3-acre property for sale after foreclosing on it for delinquent taxes. Ardito forestalled that sale, coming in to the Town Office on March 26, 2018, and paying the three years’ worth of taxes in full, including interests and costs.

He said Monday that paying his taxes late was “a strategic business decision because I still had time.” Ardito said he knew he had a month in which to make the payment.

At a select board meeting on March 20, Ardito told the officials, “It’s been a comedy of errors, the reason why the tax hasn’t been paid. I have assets coming out of my ears.”

Ardito has owned and operated his business since 1996 and proudly shows off a series of letters from Old Town Canoe recognizing him for being among the Top 10 Independent Dealers and the “largest single outlet dealer.” The recognitions start in 2002 and continue through 2009.

“I used to sell 1,000 boats a year,” he said. Then the recession hit.

Now 64, he said he intends to ramp back up. Ardito said he has been working with a lawyer in Auburn to try to decide whether to file for bankruptcy protection. “It’s a maneuvering thing,” he said. “I have to get the liens lifted.” Ardito said his property is subject to liens by some manufacturers.

The business property carries a “for sale” sign in one corner, but Ardito said it is no longer on the market.

Ardito spends his days at his business, parking his vehicle in an area surrounded by a cyclone fence, and leaving the door to the one-story building open to let in daylight and heat.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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