Wally & Joe's victim of eminent domain for McKeesport municipal authority expansion

| Saturday, July 23, 2011

A longtime McKeesport business is being praised by the executive director of the Municipal Authority of the City of McKeesport, even as that agency is preparing to take it over through eminent domain.

Wally & Joe's Welding is "a very, very good company and we utilize them a lot," Joseph Rost said last week. "We would very much like to see Wally & Joe's relocate in the city of McKeesport."

Wally & Joe's does welding for the authority that processes sewage for McKeesport and other Mon-Yough municipalities.

Its current location, 3728 Walnut St., is next door to an MACM pumping station to be expanded under a $53.6 million plan mandated by the state's Act 537.

That plan includes the expansion of the Tenth Ward treatment plant, with capacity to be increased from 20 million to 56 million gallons.

Also involved are other upgrades to pump stations and other facilities on both sides of the Youghiogheny River.

"They won the eminent domain case," owner Bob Valerio said. "They wanted me out June 30 and I said, 'No way, I have too many commitments,' so now it is tentatively Labor Day."

Valerio's father, the late Wally Valerio, and his uncle Joe Valerio, now retired, founded the business that now has a value in the eyes of MACM of $47,000 though it may take far more to relocate.

"We're asking for $150,000 and it may take that much or $200,000 to transfer the crane and exhaust fan and lifts (and other equipment)," Valerio said. "They can give you what they want ... and they won't help me relocate."

"The authority had made an offer based on the property assessment that we got and it was a whole lot different than what they were looking to get," Rost said. "It is still in the hands of the court at this time."

The matter could go into arbitration.

"You go into arbitration you might get more, you might get less," Valerio said. "I told them from the very beginning, duplicate what I have here ... and give me some money for my aggravation."

Valerio said he is seeking help from Robert Baum of Howard Hanna Wilson Baum. He said a real estate agent sent by the authority "came in for five minutes" and that was it.

"No one else has offered help," Valerio said. "Our taxes are current, we pay our bills. I'm not ready to retire and they're just telling me, 'Get out.'"

Until he runs out of time, Valerio said he will continue operating with "a couple part-time guys I get as needed."

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