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      Demolished building owner wants state accounting

      Photo Credit: file photo

      The owner of the building that collapsed earlier this year shutting down Interstate 81 North for several weeks wants to know what happened to material that was apparently salvaged during demolition.

      Anthony Tartaro says he is still waiting for a reply from the state to a letter his attorney sent on May 19th. That letter asks for "information and/or an accounting of where the items removed from the property as there is a value to the items."

      Tartaro owned the building at 921-925 North State Street which was demolished by the State Department of Transportation under eminent domain after it partially collapsed February 26th. Tartaro feels he should be entitled to what he estimates is hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of materials that were allegedly taken away and sold. For instance, Tartaro says 250 tons of steel, copper and aluminum were hauled away along with 163 wood beams. Tartaro claims some of the beams were worth at least a thousand dollars each.

      The State Transportation Department has not yet replied to CNY Central's request for a response to Tartaro's claims.

      The demolition was handled by Ritter and Paratore Contracting which is based in Utica. Michael Ritter said he would have "no comment on the sale of materials" from the building. "All I can tell you is his rights and ownership to that building were removed" when the state exercised its power of eminent domain.

      Tartaro video taped the demolition and witnessed the beams being loaded onto tractor trailers owned by Pioneer Millworks based in Farmington, New York. Michelle Caryl confirms to CNY Central that her company purchased the beams. She would not reveal how much Pioneer Millworks paid but said, "some did have value and some didn't." Caryl says she contacted Ritter and Paratore when she heard of the pending demolition. Caryl says companies will often estimate the sale of salvage materials to lower their bids for demolition work. Ritter and Paratore reportedly bid $476,000 to tear down the building and haul away the debris.

      Michael Ritter says his company is "financially stressed because we have not been paid for the entire job." Ritter says the State DOT has so far only paid 25 percent of the demolition costs. Ritter says, "they deemed this an emergency at the time. When the dust settled (we were) told this wasn't the type of an emergency" that warranted immediate payment.

      Ritter expects the state will pay the remainder of the bill after the state budget is finalized.