Town claims Martin Park pool contractor has unfinished work, company plans to demand payment

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Clinton G. Martin Park's renovated pool is the centerpiece of a dispute between the Town of North Hempstead's commissioner of public works and Gramercy Group. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

Clinton G. Martin Park’s pool reopened last summer in New Hyde Park after a year of renovations, completed under a more than $20 million contract with Wantagh-based Gramercy Group. 

Now, the Town of North Hempstead’s public works commissioner is alleging that aspects of the project remain incomplete, which Gramercy’s lawyer said is a ruse to withhold paying off debt the town racked up as the project finished last spring.

Public Works Commissioner Paul DiMaria sent a letter May 8 to Gramercy Group informing it that the town plans to declare it in default because the project was not completed on time and offering the company an opportunity to respond with a May 15 deadline. The town is withholding $1.97 million from the contractor because of these claims, said the town’s communications director, Carole Troterre.

In his letter, DiMaria presented a list of incomplete projects that he said had needed to be complete on April 24, 2018.

Three of them are what the town and Gramercy Group have come to refer to as the “big three,” Gramercy lawyer Michael McKenna said: domestic water piping, the pool’s overflow system and a sump that was not connected to a drain.

Those are the only three projects that Gramercy Group agrees were not completed, and it is because the company was only told they would have to be completed in a new format, contrary to the original contract, after the summer ended, the lawyer said. For the overflow system, the town only gave the company the new plans in February, he said.

The town has yet to pay Gramercy Group $1.5 million for 25 change orders it issued to the company once the project was complete, he said.

Those only came up at the very end of renovation. One was an aesthetic issue with a planter at the entrance of the facility, McKenna said.

“They told Gramercy take it out and it was over $50,000 to take it out, and this was told to them just prior to when the pool was supposed to be opened,” he said.

Projects the town deems incomplete and the contract balance together tack on more than $1 million to the $1.5 million owed for the change orders, the lawyer said.

“Ironically all of these ‘big three’ only came up once the issues with funding came up, and we believe it’s far too convenient,” McKenna said.

On Wednesday morning, McKenna said he was in the midst of preparing a lengthy letter disputing DiMaria’s, which he said was a false and unfair depiction of the situation.

Gramercy Group expects to be paid for its work, its lawyer said. It is hoping for a public hearing in front of the Town Board so that this can be resolved. However, if the company is not paid, it plans to sue.

“We believe that if this does get an opportunity for a public hearing in front of the Town Board … that the Town Board will understand, ‘OK, there’s more to this, let’s sit down and see if we can get this resolved,’” he said. “We just want a fair hearing to hear our side of the story.”

The pool is still set to open on time this summer, Trottere said.

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