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Demolition begins at site of former Manny's Cheesecake Bakery

By GARY LIBERATORE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri says that getting rid of the eyesore on the Memorial Parkway that used to be the Manny's Cheesecake Bakery, was one of his top priorities when he took office.

Palmieri was onhand Friday morning as demolition began to clean up the burnt out remains of the former very popular bakery. The new mayor said this was long overdue.

"This transpired in August and here we're in January," Mayor Palmieri said. "At some point, you have to take action."

Manny's caught fire in the early morning hours of August 25 last year.

So far, Utica Fire officials say they still do not have an official cause of the fire.

The burnt out walls of the structure were caved in by city crews the day after the fire because of safety issues.

The owner, Richard Alpert, of Utica had no insurance on the building and therefore, it was his own responsibility to clean up the mess left behind, officials said.

Alpert still hadn't cleaned up the site when Palmieri took office on January 1, and soon after, Palmieri filed an action with the State Supreme Court to allow the city to do the cleanup work and bill Alpert for it.

The State Supreme Court said ok, and Friday morning Utica DPW crews were on scene beginning the cleanup which Palmieri said is expected to take about a week.

The demolition began three weeks after Palmieri took office.

"We had to go through the court proceedings," Palmieri said. "We had to have the certification from the states as far as the asbestos. I had to work with the Department Of Public Works. They're here to make sure we know what we are doing here. Make sure all the I's were dotted the T's were crossed."

We contacted the owner of the property, Richard Alpert, who lives here in Utica Friday morning. He told us by phone, "I have no comment right now, everything is in the hands of my attorney."

When asked if he hopes to rebuild the popular Manny's Cheesecake Bakery either on the same site once the demolition was paid for, or in another location, Alpert again said, 'no comment'.

Palmieri says he will bill Alpert for the cost of this cleanup, which right now is unknown and he says the city's Corporation Counsel will do everything in its power to get the money back.

According to the Utica Comptroller's office, Alpert is behind more than 65,000 in back taxes and the property is about to be foreclosed on.

We also learned at the Comptroller's Office that Alpert has paid the back taxes on the two vacant lots adjacent to the building. So in the event the property where Manny's sat, is sold to someone else in the future, Alpert would still have the rights to the parking areas and be able to sell them to the new owners, or whomever might be interested.

If you do plan on driving along that section of the Parkway in Utica over the next week, be patient, traffic at many times will be down to one lane for safety reasons.

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