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Lockport parking ramp demolition gets green light as suit is dropped

LOCKPORT – The litigation over the demolition of the downtown Lockport parking ramp ended with a whimper Wednesday, and the ramp’s history will end with a bang in a few days.

A lawsuit over the bid-opening process for the job, filed by Scott Lawn Yard of Sanborn, was dropped Wednesday, leaving Empire Dismantlement, the second-lowest bidder, with a valid $1.17 million contract as awarded by the Common Council April 10.

However, there was an agreement to consider Scott Lawn for some subcontracting work on the job, such as landscaping and tree planting around the 42-space surface parking lot that is to replace the ramp at Main and Pine streets.

The lawsuit arose because Scott Lawn, which bid $987,000 on the demolition, was late to the bid opening April 5. Its representative came to City Hall an hour early but allegedly was told by a secretary in the city Engineering Department that the bids were being handled by Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, a Buffalo engineering firm also called CRA.

The Scott Lawn representative drove to Buffalo, was told at Conestoga-Rovers that the bids were to be opened in Lockport City Hall and couldn’t get back in time for the 2 p.m. deadline. After arriving late, he gave the envelope to two Conestoga-Rovers employees, who opened Scott’s bid and found it was the lowest.

However, Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano advised the Council to give the contract to Empire, a Grand Island company, because it met the deadline and Scott didn’t. Scott sued the city, blaming the city secretary for the foul-up.

State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. at first ordered a hearing on the facts but on May 28 changed his mind and dismissed the case on the grounds that Empire hadn’t been named as a defendant.

John P. Bartolomei of Niagara Falls, Scott Lawn’s attorney, filed a new lawsuit including Empire, which was to have been heard Wednesday morning by State Supreme Court Justice Ralph A. Boniello III. However, the attorneys instead signed a document in which Scott Lawn agreed to withdraw the lawsuit and not to file it again.

Empire Dismantlement owner David Mazur said his company could get the project moving quickly. “Anywhere from one business day to five business days,” he said when asked when work will begin. The contract gives him 90 days to finish the job.

Mazur said he agreed to consider Scott Lawn as a subcontractor for landscaping at the site. “There’s certainly a style of work that Scott does that we don’t do. We’re a demolition company,” he said.