Troy City Council to hear from engineer who resigned

Posted at: 04/29/2014 5:33 PM
Updated at: 04/29/2014 6:59 PM
By: WNYT Staff

Former Troy City Engineer Russ Reeves.
Former Troy City Engineer Russ Reeves.
Photo: File / WNYT

TROY - The Troy city engineer who abruptly resigned over safety concerns is among those expected to testify at Tuesday evening’s public hearing.

City council members are investigating the demolition on King Street near Bomber’s and work on the King Fuels site.

The meeting was set to get underway around 6 p.m. The city council president called the meeting after the recent resignation of City Engineer Russ Reeves – who said recent construction done near a gas line could have been “catastrophic” like something you would see in the movies.

He will be testifying, and says public safety is not something you can manipulate.

Reeves says he couldn’t stay in the job any longer after National Grid contacted him about the work being done at the King Fuels site in South Troy – around a high pressure gas transmission line that feeds the entire city.

The concerns are traffic over the main, rubble near the line, and vibrational effects from demolition – all of which National Grid says could have been catastrophic.

Reeves says the planning department was usurping his authority as an experienced city engineer. Council members have subpoenaed Reeves and his assistant as they look to get answers.

“It’s very unsettling to me to know that the city engineer who has 10 years of experience with the city itself is resigning because of his concerns with life safety and public safety concerns,” says City Council President Rodney Wiltshire.

As for the controversial demolition next to Bomber’s on King Street, Reeves says he was asked twice to declare an emergency leading to demolition without lead abatement, but refused. The buildings were torn down when he left for vacation.

“All these things could have been catastrophic if something did seriously go wrong. We want to find out how we got here. The city engineer said through his resignation that he has concerns because his expertise is being usurped. If that’s the case, what’s the qualifications for being an engineer in the city of Troy,” said Republican City Council Member Jim Gordon.

Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilia says he immediately stopped work at the King Fuels site when he was made aware of the situation.

“Then, I had a meeting with National Grid right on site later on Monday,” says Rosamilia. “They explained the situation to us and had given us the okay to go on with the project, so long as we stay away from that pipeline.”

The city council says this is just the beginning. They plan to bring other people in to testify in the future.