Rensselaer Falls to consider cleanup of destroyed apartment building

Oct. 7—RENSSELAER FALLS — Village code officer Timothy C. Tuttle will be contacting the state Department of Labor to see what needs to be done in regards to asbestos abatement at the destroyed building at the intersection of Rensselaer and Front streets.

The apartment building that was home to 11 people was destroyed by fire in late February.

Shortly after the fire, Mr. Tuttle said the owner, Kevin Reynolds, was working through complicated issues with insurance, fire investigations and environmental concerns.

At Monday night's meeting of the village board of trustees, Mr. Tuttle said not enough has happened at the site of the destroyed building.

"The owner has failed to move forward with even obtaining an estimate on cleanup." Mr. Tuttle said.

Because of the building's age, its debris has to be considered to contain asbestos until proven otherwise. Because of its commercial status, special rules apply to cleanup, Mr. Tuttle said.

Mr. Tuttle said he had heard reports of debris being moved from the property, which is not permitted.

Mayor Michael S. Hammond said he is concerned about safety at the building and asked Mr. Tuttle to contact the labor department.

If the village wants to clean up the site, it will have some hoops to jump through, Mr. Tuttle said.

The work would have to go out to bid and the bid specs would have to be prepared by a licensed engineer he said.

"This is real technical," he said. "The bid specs have to be done right."

The building burned on a Saturday afternoon in February. When the fire department had put the flames out, the gutted three-story building, which contained six apartments, was left with its walls teetering over the two busiest streets in the village.

Fire Chief Dallas R. Denny said at the time that the plan was to get an excavator to knock the building in on itself. That plan was abandoned when a big-enough excavator couldn't be found on a Saturday afternoon.

It was a few days before the walls were knocked over, Mr. Tuttle said.

In March, following a special meeting of the village board, Mr. Tuttle was given the go-ahead to issue a notice of violation and a notice of condemnation to the owner.

Mr. Reynolds had 30 days to show some progress and has a total of 12 months to clean up the property, according to Mr. Tuttle.

Any progress made initially, Mr. Tuttle said, has stopped.