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Urban Renewal’s Demolition Project Ruffles Feathers

Councilman James Zecca

Utica, NY (WIBX) - A demolition project started over the weekend has some local officials up in arms. City of Utica Councilmen James Zecca and Frank Vescera say they’re not happy about the city picking up the $300,000.00 tab to knock down the Hulking Building on Bleecker Street, because it’s owned by The Urban Renewal Agency.

And, Vescera says there’s another level of concern. “We did go down to the site and the building that is being demoed apparently has been deemed to have asbestos, or to possibly have asbestos in it,” he said. Vescera says standards set by the Department of Environmental Conservation and other environmental agencies, mandate that certain procedures are followed when handling asbestos to ensure the health and safety of residents.

“And, a number pf those things didn’t seem to be occurring when Councilman Zecca and myself were there,” Vescera said. Urban Renewal purchased the building for $1 from the owner of Charles A. Gaetano Construction under Mayor David Roefaro’s administration. Vescera says he’s currently working on legislation to stop putting taxpayers on the line for these types of expenses in the future. “The way it stands now when The Urban Renewal Agency sells a piece of property they must have it validated and ratified by the Common Council, however myself and others regrettably found out that when the Urban Renewal Agency buys a piece of property, that is not the case,” he said.

He says although nothing can be done retroactively about this particular demolition project, his aim through new legislation,  is to change the current governmental practice of placing these types of demolition cost in the lap of local taxpayers.

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