‘Little snafu’: Town of Johnstown official named in lawsuit against namesake city seeks apology, retraction

Town of Johnstown town hall sign and building
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JOHNSTOWN — A housing operator last month named local assessor Dave Walendziak in a lawsuit against the city of Johnstown, the local school district and Fulton County for allegedly violating the terms of a PILOT agreement.

But Walendziak, named as the city’s assessor, doesn’t and has never worked for the city of Johnstown.

In fact, he works for the surrounding town of Johnstown.

“We got a little snafu,” Walendziak said. “Number one, Trackside Homes is located within the city of Johnstown and I’m not the city of Johnstown’s assessor.”

Last month, Trackside Development Fund Corporation and Vesta Trackside, LLC, demanded entities within the tax district refund at least $186,513 in alleged overpayments and let go of $232,829 in delinquent bills accrued since the developer entered a PILOT agreement in 2021.

Walendziak alleged that the lawsuit was defamatory and has demanded that the plaintiff’s counsel, Couch White LLP. drop his name from the lawsuit.

The town official and former Johnstown city Mayor Vernon Jackson were the only individuals named in the lawsuit. Tina Dimitriadis is the city’s assessor.

“I gave the attorney her phone number and said that you’re more than welcome to speak to her, but I would like a retraction, an apology letter and I’d like to know about a defamation [lawsuit],” Walendziak said.

The four-year town assessor hasn’t officially received a summons concerning the lawsuit. Via email, he recently pored over a court complaint PDF attached to a request for comment sent by the newspaper nearly a month ago.

In Walendziak’s telling, an associate of Trackside counsel, Donald Hillman, told him in a phone call that they “would speak to him and contact me back to see how they proceed to get me off of that summons.”

“Anyway, in the meantime, I got all of these nice people I know all over Fulton County wanting to know why I’m getting sued and I don’t think that’s very good,” Walendziak said.

Trackside Development has not responded to a request for comment. Two members of Couch LLC referred the newspaper to Hillman for comment.

Johnstown, Little Falls, Oneonta and Amsterdam are among several regional towns to share a name with a neighboring city. The town of Johnstown split from the then-town of Caughnawaga in 1793. Part of the area was incorporated as a village area in 1803 and a city in 1895.

Johnstown Town Supervisor Jack Wilson recalled only one occurrence of a mix up between the city and town of Johnstown in outside correspondence.

“No, it does not happen very often,” Wilson said. “I’m thankful for that.”

Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected] Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil

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