A major restoration project in the Village of Babylon is nearing completion after officials replaced a contractor who was later arrested for falsifying bids.
The village hired Melville-based Gorilla Contracting in September 2020 for $308,200 to restore the manmade Argyle Falls, which were built nearly 100 years ago.
Mayor Mary Adams said the company struggled to get supplies and work was not progressing.
"From our perspective, they weren’t delivering and working on the site," she said. "It was being stalled."
In August, Gorilla and its owner, Nicholas Analitis of Massapequa, were each charged with eight counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and 10 counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.
According to prosecutors, Analitis falsified bid applications on several public works projects in the county, including forging the name of a woman without her knowledge and falsely identifying her as a manager of Gorilla so the company could be considered a minority- or woman-owned business during the bid process for the Argyle Falls work. Analitis has pleaded not guilty.
The village canceled the contract in September and hired Holbrook-based LI Craftsmanship Inc. to do the work for $245,000. The contract includes cement patchwork, concrete railing and baluster repair, concrete sidewalk repair and replacement, sandblasting and concrete painting.
The village has been trying to restore the weathered falls for more than two years. Officials thought initial bids on the project were too high and questioned whether some contractors "could handle the work that was needed," Adams said.
"It wasn’t just about painting the falls, it was about repairing," she said.
Officials had put the cost of the restoration at $500,000, but rising supply prices and additions to the project have increased that figure, Adams said. So far the village has spent about $526,000 on the work. Babylon is using a $125,000 state grant, a $100,000 Suffolk County grant and a $200,000 donation from local philanthropist Theresa Santmann to offset the costs.
Adams said the project is "pretty much all finished" now, though the contractor is waiting on the delivery of handrails. She said officials will next plan the surrounding gardens, including one in memory of former Mayor Ralph Scordino, who died unexpectedly last year. There also will be a garden dedicated to Santmann.
Adams said the dedication of the newly named Ralph A. Scordino Memorial Falls will be held in the spring.