North Hempstead public works commissioner resigns

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Gramercy Group Attorney Michael McKenna said the Town of North Hempstead has filed a motion to dismiss in bankruptcy court. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

Paul DiMaria, the North Hempstead public works commissioner, has announced his resignation effective Friday. The resignation comes as a lawsuit between the town and a private contractor over work at a town pool proceeds in Bankruptcy Court.

“Under Paul’s leadership of the Department of Public Works the town has completed many successful and ambitious projects of which we can be very proud,” said Supervisor Judi Bosworth. “We wish him success in all his future endeavors.”

The town will post the open position on its website by Friday, spokeswoman Carol Trottere said.

DiMaria traded verbal blows with the Wantagh-based contractor Gramercy Group over work done at the pool at the town’s Clinton G. Martin Park.

Gramercy Group’s president, Vincent Parsiale, said in the past that the pool renovation contract did not correctly represent the conditions of the pool, which resulted in increased costs and delays.

Discrepancies between what was presented in the contract and what was present at the site repeatedly arose as Gramercy moved to carry out the repairs, company President Vincent Parziale wrote in a letter to DiMaria dated May 15. From underrepresenting the amount of asbestos to not providing steel needed for the bathhouse, the town’s errors caused weekslong delays that made it difficult to complete the project by the contractually agreed upon date of April 24, 2018, he wrote.

The May 15 letter came in response to one from DiMaria informing Gramercy Group, which declared bankruptcy May 17, that the Town of North Hempstead was planning to hold it in default for not completing the project in New Hyde Park by April 24, 2018, and having outstanding work to do.

“It is true that the project was not opened until mid-June 2018,” Parziale replied. “However, your letter does not even attempt to present a fair picture of why that happened. Candidly, given all of the town’s issues. It is amazing that the pool even opened at that time.”

“The law is not a fool,” said Gramercy Group’s attorney, Michael McKenna.

When asked for an update on the suit, Trottere said in an email Monday, “The litigation is proceeding.”

McKenna said that the town recently filed for a motion to dismiss in the Eastern District of New York Bankruptcy Court. McKenna said that this is “another delaying tactic,” saying that federal court is “far more expedient” and the case would be settled within a year. The town’s intention, McKenna said, is to get the case into state Supreme Court.

Gramercy Group filed the lawsuit in federal Bankruptcy Court July 3.

The complaint chronicles the contractor’s experience working with the town after it was awarded the initial $20.7 million contract.

Upon starting the renovation, the contractor encountered what the document describes as shortcomings in the contract that caused delays and extra expense and work. It ends with its current situation in which the town is withholding $1.3 million for construction issues the town says Gramercy failed to address. That is in addition to about $1.5 million that Gramercy Group says the town has not paid.

Gramercy Group is seeking more than $2.8 million in total.

“The town has refused to meet in good faith to negotiate any payment, whether for contract balance, change order work, or otherwise,” the complaint says.

 

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