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Watertown sues owner of burned down High Street building for clean-up costs

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The city of Watertown claims the owner of a High Street apartment building destroyed in May by an arsonist owes more than $70,000 for clean-up costs at the site.

The city filed state Supreme Court action Tuesday at the Jefferson County clerk’s office against Ricky E. Frazier, Glen Park, owner of 239 High St., the location of a May 15 fire in which a Watertown man tried to kill his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend by setting fire to the eight-apartment structure.

According to court documents, the city condemned the insured building immediately after the fire and its code enforcement office directed Mr. Frazier to “promptly” clean up the site and dispose of demolition debris. A follow-up letter was sent to Mr. Frazier in late July advising him to clear the property, but he “took no steps,” the city claims.

Using a combination of city workers and a private contractor, the city tore the building’s remnants down in early August and hauled away the debris. The city claims that its cost for the clean-up was $70,432, for which it is trying to get reimbursed by Mr. Frazier, who could not reached for comment.

Joshua D. Metzler pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree attempted murder and single counts of second-degree arson, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree assault and was sentenced Nov. 9 to 14 years in state prison. As part of his sentence, he was ordered to pay $100,000 in the form of a civil judgment to the company that insured the building on behalf of Mr. Frazier.

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