|KING FUELS DEMOLITION|
The Troy Engineering and Planning departments – in addition to the city Council – received a subpoena from the Environmental Protection Agency regarding controversial demolition projects, according to Amy O’Connor during an appearance on Talk 1300 Saturday.
Also, according to sources, the feds questioned Mike Hayner, head of the Department of Public Utilities and acting commissioner of the Department of Public Works, and the new city Engineer Andrew Donovan, within the last two weeks.
It appears the feds are wondering why there were barricades at the King Street row of buildings a day prior to the Aug. 5 emergency demolition. Investigators are in possession of photos taken from a camera installed on the Green Island Bridge that show barricades stacked outside the buildings before Fire Chief Tom Garrett ordered an emergency demolition.
Hayner, who on Aug. 5 did order crews to set up city barricades around the demolition site, told the feds he has no idea how the barricades got there the night before and said the aluminum barricades at the site did not even belong to the city.
It begs the questions of why preparations were being made to take the buildings down prior to Garrett declaring them an imminent threat to public safety and immediately demolished.
The Environmental Protection Agency, the FBI and the state Labor Department has interviewed a number of former and current City Hall employees as they investigate the King Street demolition project and one at the King Fuels site in South Troy.
At King Street, the buildings’ owner, Don Boyajian, asked the city for an emergency demolition in 2010. Under then Mayor Harry Tutunjian, acting on the advice of City Engineer Russ Reeves, the request was denied. Three years later, a day after Reeves went on vacation, Garrett issued the emergency decree and the buildings came down. There was no asbestos abatement and Bombers, a bar restaurant attached to the King Street buildings, was allowed to stay open. Patrons were seen entering and exiting the establishment not 50 feet from where the proverbial wrecking ball was swinging.
Reeves later resigned because of demolition irregularities at the King Fuels site. He said the demolition did not follow certified engineering guidelines and that work came dangerously close to a natural gas main. Also, according to former Councilman Mark McGrath during an appearance on Talk 1300 radio, an employee of one of the demolition contractors, J.R. Casale, told authorities the company was burying asbestos at the site.
Last year, the city Council, under President Rodney Wiltshire, conducted its own investigation through six public hearings. Those testifying included Mayor Lou Rosamilia, Garrett, Planning Commissioner Bill Dunne, Deputy Mayor Pete Ryan, Boyajian, Tununjian and a host of others. Part of the EPA subpoena issued to the Council last week requests a transcript of the hearings in addition to any and all other records as well as all electronic and paper correspondence regarding the sites. The request dates to 2010 and includes three successive Councils.
It’s unclear what the subpoenas issued on the City Hall departments demands, but employees were gathering records last week to satisfy the request.
According to O’Connor, an attorney who is an active member of the Democratic Party, the EPA can pursue civil or criminal penalties when it comes to the failure to properly abate and dispose of asbestos, a known carcinogenic. Since there is a grand jury empaneled, it is more than likely looking at criminal sanctions. She did say, however, that it is generally the contractors’ responsibility to follow state and federal regulations.
She also said the intentional disregard of those regulations is one aspect the feds would have to prove should it bring an indictment or indictments. While there is a grand jury empaneled only about a third end with an indictment, O’Connor said.