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Demolition discord at Troy council hearing

Updated: 05/29/2014 9:14 AM
Created: 05/29/2014 12:17 AM WNYT.com
By: Dan Levy

TROY - It appears that the process that's been put in place to probe a series of demolitions in the city of Troy has become just as controversial as the demolitions themselves.

Round three of the demolition hearings on Wednesday night produced testimony from two contractors, a former city mayor, and a local attorney, Don Boyajian, who owns the King Street property where four buildings were torn down last August 5th, after the city's fire chief Tom Garrett called Boyajian to tell him his 19th century buildings were an imminent threat to public safety.

"When the chief calls me up and says you got a dangerous situation there, I'm not questioning it," Boyajian told Troy council members.

Boyajian, whose uncle ran a food market at the site when he was growing up, testified he paid a contractor $70,000 to bring the buildings down.

Earlier testimony from contractor Dan Ditonno revealed he was paid $10,000 to demolish the steel and concrete towers at the King Fuels site in South Troy.

Meanwhile, the city's former Mayor Harry Tutunjian testified when he arranged to have the former city hall torn down, he received a state grant, and insisted everything was done by the book.

"I think a lot of testimony that was given tonight has illuminated many and answered many questions," says council president Rodney Wiltshire.

Wiltshire says some of the things he's heard "just aren't jiving" although he also says he's starting to form a hypothesis in his own head about what he thinks may have happened.

Meanwhile, fellow council member Lynn Kopka says she "has no idea" where the hearings are going, calling them a colossal waste of time and claiming to have myriad emotions about it.

"It's more frustration then anything," Kopka says, "It's like what are we doing? We're dragging people in here with a bogus, illegal subpoena process and I don't know what we're getting out of it."

"That's a shame to hear what she's saying," Wiltshire responds, "I think the other eight of us on this council now are gaining valuable information. I think we're all coming to a better understanding of what's going on."

Wiltshire says one of the things he has learned for sure is that the city has some serious miscommunication issues to address.

He also says he expects to hold at least two more hearings, and one of them will probably involve testimony from just one person, city planning commissioner Bill Dunne.

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