Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 30, 2013

After contentious few months, city fires engineer

Niagara Gazette — City engineer Jeffrey Skurka has been fired.

Skurka found a letter from the city  saying he had been terminated last week, when he returned to at his Niagara Falls apartment after having been out of town. The engineer had taken medical leave after several encounters with the city’s contractors on the Lewiston Road and Buffalo Avenue road projects, Accadia Site Contracting Inc. and CATCO Construction Co. respectively, over work conditions on the projects. He also had issues with the city’s engineering consultant, Wendel Duchscherer, he told the Gazette on Monday.

Skurka’s claims that the contractor and consultant were not following safety rules were first made in an April 9 article in the Niagara Falls Reporter, complete with pictures of what he says are work site violations on the projects. He was particularly concerned with ditches that did not have protective systems to ensure the integrity of the walls, he said.

Skurka was involved in a project in New Jersey where he warned the municipality and contractors he was working for about a lack of safety precautions being exercised. Those warnings were ignored and the wall on a ditch gave out and crushed a worker, he said.

Skurka said he feels as though he was terminated because he was demanding the city’s contractors and consultants follow safety regulations, even if it were to take more time and money to complete.

“I was fired for doing my job and doing it well, again,” he said.

Skurka also took a medical leave of absence in December after claiming in a Gazette article that he was subject to insubordination and abuse from employees in the city’s engineering department, saying that between the hostile work environment and the $18,000 salary reduction that came as part of a city council budget amendment he was ready to move on and was seeking alternative employment.

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