Contractor says Clinton G. Martin pool repair contract delayed progress

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Residents enter the renovated pool on opening day of 2018. (Photo by Rebecca Klar)

The Clinton G. Martin Park pool renovation contract did not correctly represent the conditions of the pool, which resulted in increased costs and delays, said Gramercy Group, the contractor that completed the repairs.

Discrepancies between what was presented in the contract and what was present on site repeatedly arose as Gramercy moved to execute the repairs, company President Vincent Parziale wrote in a letter to the public works commissioner dated May 15. From under-representing the amount of asbestos to not providing steel needed for the bathhouse, the town’s errors caused weeks-long 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 Public Works Commissioner Paul 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 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.”

One issue was asbestos.

The original contract called for a “limited amount of asbestos removal,” Parziale wrote.

When Gramercy Group evaluated the space, it discovered an additional 5,500 square feet that had asbestos, the letter said.

“It not only impacted cost, but it took about three weeks to perform, thereby delaying Gramercy’s progress,” it said.

A similar issue arose with electrical work, according to the letter. Work assigned in the contract conflicted with the electrical code, it said. Additionally, the existing conditions that Gramercy Group found at the pool did not match those outlined in the contract.

To resolve the issue, lighting decks had to move, which required a redesign, Parziale wrote.

“Upon receipt of the redesign, Gramercy performed the additional work,” he wrote. “This led to additional cost as well as a time impact of four weeks.”

On Jan. 30, 2018, the Town Board unanimously voted to increase Gramercy Group’s contract by $110,447.30 to accommodate the additional work required for the asbestos and electrical work as well as for additional air-monitoring services. The public works commissioner had issued the recommendation to do so, according to the resolution.

The change increased the contract from $20.731 million to more than $20.84 million.

Faults in the contractual renovation plan were one reason that the town ended up issuing so many change orders, Parziale wrote.

“The town also fails to recognize the numerous and constant flow of Change Orders to the Work,” he wrote. “There was a systemic problem that the contract documents simply did not show all of the work that was required.”

There were also 25 change orders issued in April 2018, requiring Gramercy Group to redo work that it had already completed right before the pool was scheduled to open, said attorney Michael McKenna, who represents the company.

“The e-mail that transmitted the changes labeled them as ‘new and clarified work scope provided by A/E,’” the May 15 letter said. “This is another way of saying, ‘these are things we should have had in the contract documents – but were not.’”

The Town of North Hempstead is withholding $1.97 million from Gramercy Group for work it said is incomplete, such as a gravity overflow at the main pool surge tank and sanitary drainage in the North Building.

Gramercy Group addressed these issues in its letter.  The company said it is working on some of them, others have been resolved and it has never received notice about some.

The sanitary drainage in the North Building was resolved May 10 this year, the company said. It was not given plans for the gravity overflow system until Feb. 13, 2019.

In mid-May, the contractor declared bankruptcy. Debts that the Town of North Hempstead owes Gramercy Group contributed to the bankruptcy, McKenna said. While the town is officially withholding $1.97 million, the contractor is actually owed a total of closer to $2.7 million, the lawyer said.

Much of those funds are for change orders Gramercy Group completed, he said.

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