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Cambria Hts. Library work stalls as new contractor still to be found

The old contractor, listed on a building permit at the site as Sushmita Massand of 211-12 Union Turnpike in Bayside, was removed June 18 for not showing up to work in May and proceeding slowly at other times, the spokeswoman had told the TimesLedger earlier this month. The bonding agency, Crum & Forster of Morristown, N.J., had until July 26 to find a new company to continue the work at the site, at Linden Boulevard and 219th Street.

Even though that deadline had passed, the spokeswoman said the Department of Design and Construction, which is overseeing the project, is in discussions with the company and said Crum & Forster needs more time.

"As long as we're having talks we consider that a good sign," the spokeswoman said. "We're eager to resume construction."

Through its public relations firm, Crum & Forster declined to comment on its progress, and Massand did not return a phone call seeking comment.

A recent visit to the site revealed a rectangular pit about 25 feet deep enclosing a large pile of sand. Wood and steel beams had been placed to shore up the perpendicular walls of the pit, and a pile of planks, bricks and metal poles sat scattered around. This construction constitutes about 20 percent of the project, according to Richard Hellenbrecht, chairman of Community Board 13.

The new library will be more than three times as big as the current branch, located about three miles away inside a green building. The additional space will be used for a computer lab, facilities for the disabled and community meeting space. The building is due to be completed next year, but it could not be determined what effect the current lack of a contractor would have on the finish date. The city's 2005 budget includes $918,000 for furnishings and equipment, a spokesman for City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) has said.

Any delay in the project would not be welcome, community members have said, as construction of the new library only came about after prolonged efforts from area leaders. Comrie was one of those instrumental in gaining approval for the site and has sought to get updates on the contractor situation during the last couple of weeks.

"I want that library built," Comrie previously said.

Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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