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Monday, December 11, 2017

$396,000 settlement with Yates in North Avenue demolition sure to raise eyebrows at Monday Council meeting

A suspicious fire gutted 117-25 North Avenue
on the night of December 17, 2011. Image by Dan.

The building t 117-25 North Avenue after the fire.
It stood this way until March 20, 2015. Image by Dan.


A resolution on Monday night's Council agenda (R 369-17) proposes to settle all claims in the botched demolition of 117-25 North Avenue, which was damaged in a December 2011 fire, for an eye-popping $396,000.

The whole matter of the demolition of the building caused a huge brouhaha when it was done in 2015 -- the weekend before a special Council meeting that had been called to deal with it.

The late Eric Watson, the Director of DPWUD at that time, was on the hot seat to explain the timeline -- which involved several gaps of time that could have been construed as negligence if there were a true emergency -- and the manner in which the demolition contract was awarded.

The inicdent got extensive coverage on Plainfield Today (see here, here, and here) as well as Bernice's Plaintalker II (see here) and Olddoc's Potpourri (see here). I also posted online a packet of materials supplied by the office of Mayor Mapp containing correspondence, inspection reports, quotes and other matter about this property and the demolition (see here).

The Council -- at that time unsupportive of Mayor Adrian Mapp -- refused in a special meeting on March 23, 2015, to 1) authorize the demolition, 2) appropriate $250,000 for the expected costs as requested by the Administration, and 3) award the demolition contract to Yates.

Plainfield realtor John Campbell, who was present, remarked that he had heard a figure of $50,000 for the complete job (perhaps just for the sub-contractor?).

In the event, the work had already been done, and the Council's refusal to act set the City up for a lawsuit. According to a post on Olddoc's Potpourri (see here), resident Alan Goldstein avers the only invoice the City has received from Yates was for work done up to 3/24/15 for $75,000 (see here).

After Yates' subcontractor caused damage to the adjoining building, the City proceeded to finish the demolition and fill with the services of another contractor -- Yannuzzi.

So, the big question is: How did the City get to a $396,000 settlement when the only records we seem to have are for $75,000? That would equal a markup of 528%.

Not bad from Yates' point of view, I'm sure. But an outrage to Plainfield taxpayers.

Hopefully, all will be explained tonight.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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