Islip Town cries foul over Little League field project

Islip Town Councilman Steven J. Flotteron walks across Islip Town Councilman Steven J. Flotteron walks across one of the new Little League fields under construction on Eastview Drive in Central Islip. (May 24, 2013) Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

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A developer who agreed to build new Little League fields in Central Islip as part of a deal to construct a $45 million sports complex failed to continuously bond the field work, potentially leaving Islip Town on the hook for thousands of dollars in repairs, according to town officials and documents.

The town threatened to default the contract with Andy Borgia, the Yaphank-based developer of the proposed Ultimate Game Sports Complex, over the bond issue. But Borgia on Tuesday submitted a $125,000 check to be put in escrow in lieu of a new bond, satisfying the town.

Borgia had said he has maintained the required bonding since contracting with the town in 2011 to build the sports complex along Carleton Avenue in exchange for new baseball fields on Eastview Drive.

Borgia, who is negotiating with the town to buy the 3.5-acre parcel for the complex, said he's being maligned by a disgruntled subcontractor.

But town officials, including Supervisor Tom Croci and Councilman John C. Cochrane Jr., have expressed concern over the deal, which Councilman Steven J. Flotteron has trumpeted as a boost for the local community.

Little League officials, and a subcontractor for a company that worked on the fields and has sued Borgia over the work, are also questioning the quality of the $2 million fields, which town officials say must be satisfactorily completed for Borgia to build his sports complex.

"If they do not get this contractor covered, they are in breach of this contract and this town board is not going to tolerate that," said Croci, who said town inspectors are monitoring the integrity of the work. "Any contractor who does business with this town will do it properly; otherwise they will be held accountable."

Borgia said he was willing to put the money in escrow, in lieu of a new bond, to satisfy the board. "We're building a beautiful state-of-the-art facility," he said.

Charlie Hall, who worked as a subcontractor for T.G. Nickel & Associates of Ronkonkoma, the company Borgia initially hired as contractor on the fields project, has been outspoken in his criticism of the project. Hall has accused Borgia of using substandard materials and failing to properly drain the site. Officials from T.G. Nickel did not respond to messages. Hall said he is owed $60,000 for work on the fields.

"If a working guy wants to try to put in an addition, the inspectors are on him like flies on a rib roast," Hall said. "Borgia performs unbonded work for over six months and doesn't comply with the plan, causing remedial work to be needed and the town inspectors are nowhere to be found until recently. Why?"

Borgia denied any remedial work would be needed. "Because the town's being pressured by a disgruntled sub-contractor who didn't do work and was overpaid for whatever reason, in order for me to to make the town feel comfortable, I'm going above and beyond," he said.

On April 19, Assistant Town Attorney Janessa M. Trotto wrote to Borgia, warning him that he had 10 days to provide proof that the Little League project was insured and bonded -- or the town would move to default the lease.

Town Attorney Robert L. Cicale said Borgia provided proof of insurance and the bonding. On May 20, an attorney for Liberty Mutual said in a letter to the town that Borgia's bond was in effect -- but only for the work done by T.G. Nickel.

Joe Hennie, president of the Little League, said rainwater has pooled in the fields, raising concerns about drainage. He said it's important the work is properly bonded, so needed corrections are covered. "We'd like it to be done the right way," he said.

Flotteron, who has touted the deal with Borgia as a smart public-private partnership that will bring in economic development, said the completion of the fields is the town's "best insurance policy."

Records show Flotteron has received $2,000 in campaign donations from Borgia -- half on the day after Borgia signed the 2011 town contract. Flotteron, who was on the board at the time, said he had "no control" over the contract and dismissed any appearance of impropriety.

Cochrane said the town has been "very lenient" with Borgia. "Why do we have contracts if we're not going to enforce them? The bottom line is . . . I am really entrusted to provide safe fields to our kids. I want beautiful fields for the boys and girls."

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