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Schenectady hill stabilized after landslide; notice of claim filed

Schenectady hill stabilized after landslide; notice of claim filed

Some nearby resident allowed to move back into homes
Schenectady hill stabilized after landslide; notice of claim filed
The hill, as seen from Barney Street, on Tuesday.
Photographer: PETER R. BARBER

Editor's note: This story was corrected at 10:51 a.m. on Feb. 28, 2018. An earlier version incorrectly identified George McHugh, general counsel for Carver Companies.

SCHENECTADY — The hill that failed in late-January — causing a landslide that struck an apartment house — has been stabilized, and one of its victims filed a notice of claim against the city on Monday.

Much of the work to stabilize the hill has been completed, according to George McHugh, general counsel for Carver Companies. The medium stone fill was visible over much of the hill on Tuesday, with a fence at the bottom.

“They have fencing to put up and other odds and ends, but the structural stuff is all finished,” McHugh said.

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Carver Companies of Altamont was hired by the city to stabilize the slope for $94,500.

It was still unclear, as of Tuesday, what caused the slide.

City Fire Chief Ray Senecal and Mayor Gary McCarthy did not return requests for comment

The city was also served with a notice of claim on Monday by one of the victims of the landslide.

Reco Ross, formerly a resident of 223 Nott Terrace, said in his claim that he suffered damage not only to his property, but also to himself. He also claims the city exercised “negligence, malfeasance and nonfeasance” for not addressing a water line leak that occurred on top of the hill in a timely manner.

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A notice of claim preserves a person’s ability to file a lawsuit against a government entity.

Ross was one of three people taken to the hospital after mud and debris crashed into the back of his apartment on Jan. 28. In the claim, Ross said he was “knocked to the ground and buried under debris and mud,” when the slide occurred.

His nephew was described by emergency officials as being encased in mud; he was airlifted to Albany Medical Center after being extricated from the building, though he was released from the hospital a few days later.

Ross’ attorney, Chris Burke of the Schenectady-based firm Delorenzo, Grasso & Dalmata, said Ross is still suffering. Not just physical injuries, but psychological ones. Burke said he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“He’s having a tough time sleeping, but we’re hoping he will have a decent recovery,” Burke said, adding his place of employment, Cumberland Farms, has adjusted his hours because of the lack of sleep.

The claim did not say how much Ross was seeking in damages.

Ross previously told The Daily Gazette he wasn’t able to sleep well following the slide. He made sure the new apartment he moved into had no hills around it before renting it.

City Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico said the claim wasn’t “unexpected,” but he did call it “sparse.”

“There’s not a lot of details,” Falotico said.

Burke said they haven’t been able to do too much investigative work into what caused the hill and that he is still waiting to see a report from the city.

City officials previously said the basement of 11 Barney St. was filled with water prior to the slide. They said the water line servicing 11 Barney St., which was attached to the water main on Barney Street, was shut off the Friday before the slide.

The home was later demolished, along with residences at 15 Barney St. and 2 Daggett Terrace.

Several of the buildings below the hill were evacuated following the slide, forcing 27 residents out of their homes.

Some residents were able to move back into their properties last week.

Annalicia Williams said she was able to move into her apartment at 213 Nott Terrace last Tuesday.

“It was definitely a beautiful thing,” Williams said.

Williams and her 3-year-old daughter were staying at her sister’s place after they were forced out of their apartment.

Williams said she was happy no one was killed in the incident. But she was frustrated the city didn’t act quickly to address the water leak on the street above them and alert them of possible problems with the hill.

Water was coming down from the hill for several days before the slide, Williams said, forming ice between her apartment and 223 Nott Terrace.

“[The city] knew this was going to happen,” Williams said. “Everybody knew.”

Ross makes a similar claim, as he said city officials failed to address the leak in a timely manner.

“[The city] did nothing to protect our client or any of the other residents almost struck by the landslide,” Burke said.

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