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Contractor sues North Hempstead Town for $2.8M in dispute over pool renovations

The Pool facility inside Clinton G. Martin Park

The Pool facility inside Clinton G. Martin Park on July 9, 2019 in New Hyde Park. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A Wantagh-based contractor is suing the Town of North Hempstead for $2.83 million, alleging that the company and its subcontractors performed additional renovation work at the Clinton G. Martin Park pool facility but were not reimbursed for materials and labor.

A lawyer representing Gramercy Group Inc. also alleged in court documents filed July 3 that North Hempstead is unjustly withholding $1.3 million from the agreed upon contract. Town Attorney Leonard Kapsalis said Tuesday that Gramercy is giving a "distorted view of its performance on the CGM pool." Gramercy Group’s lawyer said the company completed its work, despite getting contradictory guidance throughout the process from the town’s public works department.

“There were a lot of things going on here, and Gramercy wasn’t treated properly by the town, particularly by [public works department] commissioner [Paul] DiMaria,” said New Jersey-based Michael McKenna, Gramercy’s lawyer.

In May 2017, North Hempstead hired Gramercy for $21 million to renovate the pool facility in New Hyde Park. The pool reopened in June 2018. However, this past May, town officials announced they were withholding $1.97 million from Gramercy for uncompleted work.

In court documents filed in Brooklyn in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District, Gramercy states that its staff and the town agreed on a May 2018 completion date, but that the project began falling behind in March 2018. 

Gramercy officials contend they missed the completion deadline because town officials added extra work and didn’t outline the full scope of work that needed to be done at the beginning of the renovation, including removal of asbestos and remediating the toxic pollutant polychlorinated biphenyl from the site’s soil.

Court documents also detail why the pool facility opened last year without proper fire alarm systems. Gramercy alleges that the fire sprinkler design the town created in its renovation plan did not meet Nassau County Fire Marshal standards. 

“Without a fully constructed fire suppression system, the town had a choice: either wait for the work on the fire suppression system to be completed before opening the pool or open the pool as planned and have Gramercy institute a human fire watch,” court documents state. “The town chose to have a fire watch and directed that Gramercy put one in place to allow the pool opening to proceed.”

Town spokeswoman Carole Trottere said Tuesday that the fire alarm systems have since been installed. The pool opened for the season on June 15.

Kapsalis said Gramercy's inability to manage its subcontractors correctly "in large part" caused the company not to finish the renovations in time. He said the company also made a substantial error early in the renovation.

"Among others issues, Gramercy improperly demolished critical piping and other facilities intended to remain and serve the renovated facilities," Kapsalis said. 

Gramercy Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy two months ago. If a judge awards Gramercy the $2.83 million, the money would go toward paying off debtors.

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