An area man who previously worked at The Doyle Hardware Building, new home to the Utica branch of The U.S. Census Bureau, claims Asbestos was removed from the building improperly possibly endangering workers and the new tenants.
These bombshell allegations are being made by a man who says he witnessed firsthand, the illegal removal and possible dumping of dangerous toxic substances from the historic Doyle Hardware Building across from Utica's historic Union Station.
Dan Olah, a local contractor and the ex-owner of Elwoods's- a popular eatery located at 614 Columbia St. that burned down in a death related arson on Dec 20 2007- stands behind his claims and said he has also brought the situation to City Hall's attention.
"I personally went down to City Hall on two occasions" he said. "I spoke with Angelo Roefaro, the mayor's secretary and Robert Sullivan." Shrugging his shoulders, he continued. "Nothing has been done." he said
Olah did not stop at City Hall, he also went to the Labor Department's office at the State Building. "I spoke with a guy named Robert, he told me personally they found asbestos in there"
Olah was referring to Robert Varano a state worker in the Labor Department that deals with asbestos. At press time GCN was unable get a quote from him.
Why Speak Now?
Olah worked at the building for three months and says he walked off the job because he felt his health was at risk.
"I was actually working on a restaurant (remodelling) that was going in another part of the building. I have been a certified Asbestos Abatement Contractor so I know when you are dealing with dangerous substances and the proper way of removing them...they were loading up U-Hauls and taking them somewhere to dump" he said.
Olah had enough when he realized what was allegedly going on. "C'mon man, you got these young guys who need money to feed their families and this guy has them doing stuff for $15.00 an hour that can make not only them sick but it can get their kids too" he said, showing obvious emotion.
The guy he was referring to is Stewart Banntyne, a developer and the current owner of The Doyle Hardware building. Since Bantyne purchased the building he has put his money where his mouth is as an advocate of Downtown Utica and its financial potential. Banntyne's sizeable investment and the fact he made it in an area that has been ignored for decades during hard economic times is exactly why, Olah says: "no one has done a damn thing."
Robert Sullivan, head of revitalization for Utica said Olah has an ax to grind. "From what I know he has a few claims against the city already and he is frustrated" he said.
Sullivan made it clear he passed Olah's complaints to the proper people and it was all handled. "This thing all went above me, beyond my authority" Sullivan said.
Regarding Sullivan's assertions Olah admits his frustration with Utica and his treatment after his building burned down. "My building, business which I invested $500,000 in was damaged by arsonists...damaged" he emphasized "then they (City of Utica) go and raze my property within a week without proper notification...I mean, you tell me what is going on."
Olah likens his treatment to being chased out of town. "I helped turn around that block (600 Columbia) a lot of other businesses were happy with me there...one little incident and everything changed."
That incident was a fight and subsequent beating that started inside Elwood's. "These guys beat the crap out of some kid...I stopped it and they said they were going to burn me down." Apparently they did ( burn him down) and that is where Olah's complaints begin. "They ignored me then and they are ignoring me now" he said.
At press time we were unable to obtain a response from Stewart Banntyne but there will be lot more on this in future postings. As far as Angelo Roefaro is concerned he denied ever speaking with Dan Olah and does not recollect any conversations regarding Asbestos at The Doyle Hardware building.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Posted by David B. Dancy at 8:33 AM