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Oyster Bay sues contractors over Hicksville garage construction

Construction equipment inside the lower level 2 at

Construction equipment inside the lower level 2 at the Town of Oyster Bay parking garage on Duffy Avenue in Hicksville, Sunday, June 18, 2017. Credit: Steve Pfost

The Town of Oyster Bay has filed a lawsuit against two contractors that worked on the troubled Hicksville parking garage used by hundreds of Long Island Rail Road commuters each weekday.

The lawsuit, filed last Wednesday in state Supreme Court in Mineola, alleges that Freeport-based Peter Scalamandre & Sons Inc. and Mineola-based Sidney B. Bowne & Son LLP failed to correct substandard work at the garage that opened in 2011.

Oyster Bay is seeking unspecified damages for what it says is breach of contract from both firms and malpractice from Bowne.

Deputy Town Supervisor Gregory Carman said Sunday the lawsuit was filed to protect taxpayers’ rights and to seek money for repairs to the garage.

“In order to make sure the statute of limitations doesn’t expire, we wanted to file the suit,” Carman said. “We’re always open to settlement, but we’re still in the investigation stages about what needs to be done about problems we have identified at the garage.”

The problems include cracked and falling concrete, and water leaks into electrical systems, elevators, ventilation systems and carbon monoxide detection, according to the lawsuit.

The garage replaced a 37-year-old parking structure that was closed in 2008 after workers found cracks in concrete-and-steel T-beams. The town spent about $65 million to demolish the old garage, build the new one, and pay for related costs.

“The record will show that this parking structure was built according to specification, was repeatedly inspected by a number of agencies and was turned over to the Town of Oyster Bay as a facility that met all construction specifications,” a spokesman for Scalamandre said in an emailed statement.

Bowne partner Frank Antetomaso said in an emailed statement that the company “remains confident that there were absolutely no departures from good and accepted engineering practice in the firm’s work for the Town of Oyster Bay.”

The town hired Bowne as the project engineer and manager in 2009. Scalamandre that same year was awarded the contract to build the garage for $33 million. Change orders drove the final construction costs up $35.9 million when the Town Board authorized final payment to Scalamandre in 2013.

In March of this year, town officials installed equipment to help support the ceilings on two underground levels of the four-floor garage. Despite the problems, town consultants have said the garage is structurally sound.

The 1,440-space facility has had problems since 2011 when water leaks were reported a month after it opened.

Work reports obtained from the town in a Freedom of Information Law request show that contractors and town officials knew about problems during the construction phase and tried to address them. The minutes from a Sept. 14, 2010, meeting in which nine town employees, including then-highway Commissioner Richard Betz, Bowne, Scalamandre and other contractors were present, show that cracks in masonry had been observed and solutions were discussed.

The meeting minutes indicate project architect Angelo Corva “stressed the need for a review of the plans for the entire structure to determine if other locations will exhibit similar problems.”

Daily project reports created in late summer and early fall 2010 show Bowne had notified Scalamandre that concrete work on a deck was being done improperly and tests showed that some concrete hadn’t reached 100 percent strength. Puddles and cracks were observed and an outside firm recommended retrofitting one column to increase its strength, the reports show.

Carman said he hadn’t seen those reports but the town’s investigation will help determine “who ultimately is responsible and to what degree they should be responsible.”

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