FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 22, 2013
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-815-4462 (cell)
Westchester Board of Legislators Leaders Question Mishandling of Playland Boardwalk Repair
Lack of public information troubling
White Plains, NY – Two leaders of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) have raised major concerns of improprieties regarding the rescinding of an emergency contract for repairs to the boardwalk at Playland, which was damaged during Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012.
Both BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) and BOL Vice Chair Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon) voiced their strong concerns about the handling of bids for Playland boardwalk repairs at the last two meetings of the County’s Board of Acquisition and Contract (A&C) on, respectively, March 14 and 21.
It seems that a minority-owned contracting firm from New Rochelle, Mace Contracting Corp., was the lowest, responsible bidder for the boardwalk repair project. There are assertions that other contracting firms not on the pre-qualification list were allowed to bid on the job, and the bid was rescinded only after one of those unauthorized bidders failed to win the job. The County has a poor record awarding contracts to minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs).
“One has to question the validity of a claim by the Astorino Administration that the emergency contract provisions have not been met,” said Jenkins. That determination would certainly be more plausible prior to bids for emergency work, four months after the hurricane, and there is no debate that an emergency condition still exists. Jenkins added that Administration officials declared an emergency at Playland in December 2012 and those provisions would still be applicable.
An emergency declaration allows for the awarding of contracts prior to the formal approval of Bonding by the BOL. This provision exists to expedite repairs required to protect County property.
“We have a number of important questions that County Executive Astorino needs to answer to ensure that these emergency repair projects for Playland were not intentionally mishandled,” said Williams.
These important questions, first presented to the Astorino Administration by Chairman Ken Jenkins at the A&C meeting over a week ago, are:
· Please provide a list of quotes received from the emergency bidders list to provide the emergency work as the notification provided to the Board of Acquisition and Contract declares.
· Please provide the list of emergency vendors / contractors utilized by the County as of the November 29, 2012 date.
· Please provide an explanation as to why one of these vendors was not chosen to perform the emergency work.
· Please provide an explanation as to why this has now been delayed until March.
· Please provide an explanation as to the impact of this delay on the 2013 operations at Playland.
To date, the Astorino Administration has not answered the questions despite numerous requests to do so.
In January, the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) approved the addition of two separate bond acts for Playland repairs to the 2013 Capital Budget, both of which were categorized by the Astorino Administration as necessary for emergency contracts. One of the bond acts, totaling $7,575,000, was earmarked for the nearly destroyed boardwalk, a victim of Sandy’s high winds and storm surge, which caused parts of the structure to heave, buckle or completely wash away. Since the storm, the boardwalk, which is normally open to county residents during the off-season, has been closed to the public.
Concerns about the emergency contract for the boardwalk repairs were raised in the County’s Board of Acquisition and Contract (A&C) last week by Jenkins. But the Astorino Administration defended its foot-dragging earlier this week by saying that it was following an opinion from County Attorney Robert Meehan, who felt too much time has elapsed between passing the bond act and not signing a contract.
“The emergency still exists and there was a bid, so let’s move the contract forward and get this work done,” said Jenkins. “What is there to hide?”
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