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Irish Cultural Center Board Faces Deadline On Stalled Construction Project

Jeanette Lenoir, WIBX

Utica, NY (WIBX) - It’s been months and Utica Councilman David Testa is still waiting for that “special meeting” with those in charge of the Irish Cultural Community Center, currently baring signs of a stalled construction project.  Testa says the clock is winding down for those in charge of the project, stalled for more than a year now. “I put it out there that I want to meet with Mr. Sullivan, [Matthew Sullivan, Executive Director, Irish Cultural Center Board] and I know the mayor says basically his hands are tied because the money situation, but I know this is probably going to come to a head by the end of the year so, one way or another, we’re going to find out more,” Testa said.

Testa represents Utica’s 2nd Ward, the district where the stalled project sits. He says as the winter months near, it’s high time all sides come together for that meeting. Testa said, “In the next couple of days, I’m asking the mayor and I’m going to be asking the fire chief–Chief, Russ Brooks–to sit down with Mr. Sullivan to see if there’s anyway the city can help, or find out where he’s at, as far as keeping this project going.”

In addition to the long-awaited progress report, Testa wants to know if the city is perched to take over the project, if the Center’s Board fail to get construction moving again. He said, “That’s a possibility. They have a certain amount of time to move on this project and whether they continue it, or let somebody else take over and continue it–as far as that business or something else, you know.” He says a decision is needed by January.

The project came to a halt in August 2011, after the company, Zangrilli Engineering, hired to design the building’s steel framework, raised concerns about the structural integrity of the building. Officials with the project have denied the allegations, pointing to financial hurdles for the delay in construction. Calls to Sullivan and the attorney representing the Board, Peter Karl, were not returned by the time of publication. Testa said, “Being the public has given some money towards this, I think that we have to be on top of this to make sure that it continues, or we find out what’s going to be happening by the end of the year. And I want to get that answer, as far as if the project by the end of December is not going forward, I what to see what’s going to happen to that land down there.”

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