Local Welder Fights Eminent Domain

MCKEESPORT (KDKA) — It’s a place only a welder could love – cranes, acetylene torches and big slabs of metal to be fired and molded.

Bob Valerio’s father and uncle founded the business 60 years ago and it runs deep in the family’s bloodlines.

“Well you know what it is when you have a family business,” Valerio said. “It’s not only a job – it’s a way of life.”

Bob’s business now stands in the way of a $54 million expansion of the McKeesport Municipal Authority’s water and sewer system.

Last week, an acquisition agent came with an eviction notice and a $47,000 check which Bob says represents about 15 percent of what he needs to set up shop somewhere else.

“And she came here with her pittance check and said, ‘Are you going to give me the keys?’

“And I said, ‘I don’t want your check and I’m not leaving.’”

The authority is taking the property by the power of eminent domain which allows government agencies to seize private property for a greater public purpose.

In this case, it is expanding treatment capacity to avoid sewage runoff into the waterways. But Bob says their offer is take it or leave it.

“It’s doesn’t sound like America to me,” he said. “My grandparents came over from Europe to escape this kind of thing – an oppressive government and you have no say so, no rights.”

The municipal authority and their attorney declined to appear on camera but are moving forward to evict Bob who says he’s not going anywhere.

“I’m the last man standing and today they served me with a court hearing notice,” Bob said.

A judge will decide if Bob has to leave – and if he does – how much he’ll be paid.

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  • Joe

    Hopefully the judge will be intelligent enough to pay the man a fair price.

  • bruceUSA

    You want to see some eminent domain??? Can’t wait till 43 goes through West Mifflin!!!

  • George

    Where is this person going to find a building and reestablish his business for $47,000. Another old building may cost $250K and up We need to all pitch in and help Bob Valerio. Were is the ACLU now?

  • freedom

    Dear Bob, Please read your Fifth amendment to the constitution, Its there to protect you!

    The Takings Clause, the last clause of the Fifth Amendment, limits the power of eminent domain by requiring that “just compensation” be paid if private property is taken for public use.

  • freedom
  • Lee S.

    Hang tough Bob, this is B.S. pure and simple.

  • jmk

    $47,000 is a JOKE! This absolutely ridiculous. Any judge that sides with the water authority should be thrown out office. We are in a time of where families are struggling to make ends meet. This is a local business that has been around for many yrs and what gives the Mckeesport Municipal Water Authority the right to take away this mans lively hood???? What about his employees???? How does this picture of “eminent domain” look now when these people have to sign up for unempoyment and increase the number of the population that are unemloyed???? 54 million dollar expansion vs $47,000 for this mans way of life.

  • Larry Z

    I wish you much needed luck on this. This just shows another reason to vote out lifetime politicians. If you are not politically connected, you do not have a chance. Again good luck Bob. Larry Z

  • The Holy Blowfish

    Add at least another 300k………That guy/gal presenting that tiny check must have a set of brass stones or the intelligence of a stone to do that……They’re lucky that cutting torch didn’t get stuck where there is lack of sunshine

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