A $50,000 North End park project is on hold while the city sorts out what to do after the low bidder tried to withdraw from the project because of potential union problems.
Faery's Landscaping of Ransomville withdrew its $50,665 bid for site preparation and landscaping for Main Street's Trolley Stop Park in writing Tuesday. The Community Development Department was prepared Wednesday morning to seek new bids on the project. But, by mid-afternoon city lawyers said the contractor may not withdraw without legal grounds.
Acting Corporation Counsel Timothy G. Bax said a bid cannot be unilaterally withdrawn by a contractor "unless there is a statutory reason under the bidding laws that would allow that bid to be withdrawn or for the matter to be rebid."
No reason for the withdrawal was given in the letter from Faery's, according to Robert J. Antonucci, project administrator for the city's Community Development Department. Antonucci said he "wouldn't speculate" on whether the reason was what he and others last week called "indications " that there might be problems because Faery's is a non-union contractor.
City Administrator Anthony J. Restaino was one of several city officials who said he had heard there might be problems with Laborers Local 91. He said last week he had advised Faery's to try to work things out to avert them in advance.
About two years ago, members of Local 91 picketed asbestos-removal work being done by a non-union contractor at the city's old water-treatment plant.
Bruce R. Charbonneau, supervisor at Faery's, said he had not had any contact with any union representatives. He said he withdrew the bid after Antonucci had told him "the unions were there and there might be problems with some unions and I didn't want to get involved in that."
Charbonneau said if he cannot legally withdraw his bid, he doesn't know what he will do. He said he had not been notified by City Hall yet.
Charbonneau said Trolley Stop Park was the first time the Ransomville firm has bid on a public project in Niagara Falls. "And, it's going to be the last," he said.
Antonucci said the Community Development Department wanted to fast-track a new round of bids because there was some urgency to get the site work done. The Main Street Business Association has received a $34,000 grant from the Niagara County Environmental Fund, which required that trees be planted this fall.
Faery's bid was selected for the grading of two vacant lots and installation of drainage, topsoil, brick paver walkways, underground electrical conduit and concrete foundations for light pole bases.
Elizabeth J. DiChiara, president, said the association will have to wait until the city makes the next move. But, she said she has been assured by an official of the environmental fund that the grant will not be in jeopardy if the trees can't be planted until spring. Still the association is anxious to get the work moving because it wants some visible sign of the hoped-for renaissance of the North End commercial strip that the park represents.