Today’s news:

City fires company at College Point ballfields

Less than two months after firing the College Point ballfields contractor, the city has given the pink slip to the insurance company responsible for finding a replacement contractor to finish the project.

The city’s action left yet another company disappointed at the way the Department of Design and Construction handled the construction of the ballfields.

“We have acted responsibly with regards to the College Point sports park,” said Linda Kingman, a spokeswoman for Kemper Insurance in Long Grove, Ill., which was terminated last week. “We had workers begin indoor work at the site, but they couldn’t begin outdoor work because of the weather.”

Volmar Inc. will now finish work on the ballfields, which have been closed since illegally dumped construction debris was found on the site in 1997.

“The city has resumed work on the College Point Sports Complex and that has happened as the result of the city defaulting the (insurance company) because they didn’t submit the plan to complete the work,” said Matthew Monahan, spokesman for the city’s Department of Design and Construction. “And they failed to commence the physical work in that 25-day period.”

Monahan was referring to the 25-business-day period that began the day the city terminated its contract with the company that was commissioned to complete the ballfields, ADC Contracting of College Point. Within that month, American Motorist Inc., the insurance company for ADC Contracting, was supposed to find a replacement contractor for the project.

Monahan said Kemper Insurance Companies was fired for not ensuring that the work on the ballfields was completed.

“Unfortunately in this case, the contractor did not complete his work,” Monahan said. “We mean business when we engage in contracts.”

Monahan said that since the agency’s inception, 32 contractors have been defaulted in situations where the insurance company has finished the work.

Kingman said Kemper did, in fact, have workers at the ballfields by the deadline.

“We did submit plans for completion of the work,” Kingman said. “Kemper is disappointed with the city’s action.”

Volmar, the contractor that regraded the site before ADC began its work, is finishing the ballfields.

The city maintains that faulty work and delays in finishing the project led to the firing of ADC Contracting in late December. But Anthony Chiodi, president of ADC, said the Department of Design and Construction mismanaged the site and was the reason he was unable to finish the job on time.

“I find it interesting that the company that I replaced is now replacing me,” Chiodi said. “It’s clear indication of a cover-up on the part of the agency. Everyone involved said the agency didn’t know what they were doing.”

Chiodi said when he arrived at the ballfields, Volmar had not regraded the entire property. He started his work with a change order, or request for more funding, in order to regrade the land on part of the site that he said was left incomplete.

Representatives for Volmar did not return calls for comment.

Chiodi said the city chose to stop paying Volmar to finish regrading the site just prior to starting his contract.

“Now they’re going back to Volmar to cover up their tracks,” he said.

The Department of Design and Construction maintains that Volmar was not a problem when it originally worked on the fields.

Chiodi is currently suing the agency for wrongful termination and for the remaining $350,000 of his contract, which Volmar will be completing. He said if he had been left to finish the project, it would have been finished in 30 working days.

His company began working on the fields in August 2002. Prior to that, construction on the fields was halted after the city found illegal fill on the ballfields construction site in 1997.

In the years that followed, five people pleaded guilty to dumping waste on the ballfields. Those five were employees of Enviro-Fill, the company that was supposed to be regrading the property with clean soil.

The city has spent millions of dollars repairing the field, while 1,300 children were left without a place to play softball, baseball and roller hockey.

Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who was president of the College Point Sports Club when the fields were shuttered, said he is tired of waiting for the city to finish the project.

“The bottom line is, for my sake and the community’s sake, the Department of Design and Construction has got to resolve these issues, but they’ve got to build these fields,” he said. “I’m just fed up and so is the community — build the complex. I don’t want to hear any excuses at this point because everybody’s to blame.”

State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), who also represents that area, declined to comment.

Monahan said the Department of Design and Construction still plans to have the project completed in time for Little League season this spring.

If true, that will be nine years after construction on the ballfields began.

Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

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