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Queens Chronicle

City Stops Work By Contractor On College Pt. Sports Complex

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Posted: Thursday, December 25, 2003 12:00 am

Yet another monkey wrench was thrown into the College Point Sports Complex project last week when the city told the contractor to cease operations because of shoddy work.

“We have told ADC Contracting to cease its operations and leave the site,” said Department of Design and Construction spokesman Matthew Monahan. “If they return, it’s a trespass issue.”

But, so far, the contractor, Anthony Chiodi, refuses to quit and was talking to his lawyer on Monday afternoon regarding how to proceed. Later in the day, he issued a letter sent to Mayor Bloomberg, asking him to intercede.

“This unwarranted default will put my company out of business. We are asking for your direct intervention to save the company as well as 15 jobs plus a substantial number of sub-contracting jobs,” Chiodi said.

DDC sent a notice to Chiodi last Tuesday, December 16th, that ordered his firm to stop working on the $3.6-million project to restore the ballfields and build bleachers, a comfort station and roller hockey rink.

Despite several extensions on the project agreed to by the DDC, Monahan said the work still did not get done and the quality was poor. On November 15th, ADC Contracting did not meet its final deadline.

“Poor workmanship required corrections. The bottom line is they didn’t get it done,” Monahan said. “We hoped it wouldn’t come to this.”

The primary failures were properly completing the bleachers, comfort station area, hockey rink and ballfields.

According to the contract, ADC’s surety firm has 25 business days to propose a replacement contractor to the DDC. Monahan explained that the surety firm assumes the contract since the original contractor was in default. “It’s like insurance,” he explained.

Based on city regulations, a firm is in default due to failure to complete work as directed and required and failure to meet the completion schedule that the contractor agreed to, in this case, September 10th.

The city’s goal remains the same: To have the fields completed in time for the opening of Little League season in the spring. “We are focused on getting it finished,” Monahan said.

Chiodi was busy Monday in meetings with his lawyer but told the Daily News last week that the work is essentially done and blamed the DDC for mismanagement and a coverup. Meanwhile, his crew continues to work at the 22-acre site on 130th and Ulmer Streets, between 23rd and 26th Avenues.

Monahan responded to Chiodi’s charges by saying, “if that’s what he said, it’s an outrageous falsehood.” Regarding ADC’s continuing to work at the site, the DDC official added, “he would be well advised to rethink that intention.”

In his letter to the mayor, Chiodi reiterates that the work is virtually complete except for seasonal spring work. “We substantially completed the project by December 1st. It was two weeks late due to weather delays. The money withheld from the contract is more than sufficient to cover the remaining punch list items, which ADC has every intention of doing,” Chiodi added in his letter to Bloomberg.

On trips to the site in November, the Chronicle found uneven ballfields that were filled with pools of rainwater and poor workmanship on the roller hockey rink. Officials from the Parks Department, who eventually will take over the complex for the city, were livid, calling the work a disaster and a disgrace.

Jerry Castro, president of the College Point Little League, also has inspected the site on a regular basis and is angry that the job still is not done. He complained of poor drainage and lousy soil. “The fields are unplayable. They are like oatmeal.”

College Point teams have been without the complex’s playing fields for nearly seven years after the city closed them down in 1997 for safety reasons. It blamed Enviro-Fill for dumping illegal fill there when it had promised to regrade the fields with legal construction debris. Instead, they dumped every type of building material rather than the legal dirt and crushed concrete.

Enviro-Fill was hired by the College Point Sports Association, which operated the complex for the city. City Councilman Tony Avella was its president at the time.

In a statement issued last week, Avella approved the default action taken by the DDC. “It’s a shame that DDC had to take this action but it was absolutely necessary to get this project on the right track. The contractor failed to meet several deadlines and performed shoddy work.”

Chiodi also blamed Avella for putting political pressure on DDC “to complete the project in unrealistic time frames. The DDC, having no other option, defaulted my company in an effort to save face.”

Another DDC spokesman, John Spavins, said on Tuesday he could not comment on a letter that was not sent to his agency and he has not seen.

After a long delay, the city was eventually forced to remove the 36,700 cubic yards of illegal fill at the sports complex, which cost $10 million. Following that, the DDC let the contract for work on one baseball field, one Little League field, the roller hockey rink, a park house and bleachers.

In April, the man held responsible for dumping the illegal fill pleaded guilty and agreed to pay the city $250,000, serve three months in jail on weekends and five years’ probation. The firm went out of business after the complex was closed.

In October, the city announced it had filed a $16.5-million lawsuit for damages against the owners of Enviro-Fill and the College Point Sports Association.

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