FULTON, NY – At the city council meeting on November 4, newly reelected county legislator of the 25th district, Frank Castiglia Jr. approached the board with some questions and concerns in regards to the demolition of the former Nestles property in Fulton.
The city recently bid off the former Nestles property to be demolished and awarded the job to Infinity Enterprises to tear down the site for no cost to the city, only sole salvage rights to everything on the property.
Concerning when the work will begin and end, Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. informed Castiglia that the work will begin the first week of December and will need to be completed by June 1, 2016.
“That (date) came right from Aldi. We have the contract in hand with Aldi, the price is all worked out and ready,” said Woodward.
While this answer is what many Fulton residents were hoping, Castiglia brought up concern voiced from many residents in the area of the dust and debris that is going to be produced during the demolition process.
“We’ve talked to this contractor, and we’ve done work with him a lot. We’ve stressed to him, when they tear it down they need to keep it wet and he knows that,” said Woodward.
The mayor assured that this contractor is a reputable, seasoned contractor that will keep the dust and debris as minimal as possible during the take down process.
Third Ward councilor, Ryan Raponi brought up concerns with a performance bond being put in place before the work began.
Woodward explained that a performance bond is tied in with how much money is charged for the project, but since there is no money involved, they are unsure of exactly how to base a performance bond.
Essentially, a performance bond is money guaranteed to the city based on the overall cost of the project to finish the demolition in the case that the contractor starts the work but does not complete it.
Raponi said that he would prefer the work does not begin without a performance bond in place as to avoid “getting stuck like we did the last time.”
Raponi is referring to a partial demolition that occurred in 2013 when the city did not own the property and the previous owner did not complete the project, leaving the city with an unfinished demolition site, financial burden and an eyesore to city residents.
Mayor Woodward addressed this concern saying, “My theory on this is that we don’t have the money, we don’t want to borrow $3.5 million to tear it down, we can’t afford it. This contractor has a good reputation. He does a lot of work in Syracuse, which he does not have performance bonds for work there. Say he takes all asbestos out and gets rid of it, then takes buildings down, what have you lost? Now we don’t have to do asbestos.”
Second Ward councilor Daniel Knopp added one clarification, “The city owns the property. So as long as the parameters are set, our council, mayor and code department will make sure he gets nothing out of that project until he does what he’s supposed to because we own the property, not him. The last contractor owned the property.”
Mayor Woodward explained his concern with the only other bid at more than $3.5 million with prevailing wages, explaining that that contractor would get both the payment for the work from the city and the scrap money from all salvageable material on the property, whereas Infinity Enterprises will only receive the salvage rights.
“Nobody else wanted to bid it. Can I guarantee you any contractor is going to give you exactly what you want? No, but this guy has worked with us a lot. We’ve got to be on top, see what is being taken first. We want everything gone and we’ve got a contractor, a reputable one I believe. If you can get half those buildings down with the asbestos gone for free, why wouldn’t you? He’s going to have a significant investment in before he can even get to the steel for scrap,” the mayor added.
Woodward explained that Aldi is still interested in the site even if the portion of the property they are interested in is complete but the rest of the site is not.
For that reason, the city will ensure that the contractor begin the project on Fourth Street and Route 481 so the portion set for Aldi is completed first.
“Ryan (Raponi) and most of the people in the area and the city just want to make sure it gets done and we’re not stuck. When it looks too good to be true it usually is, but we have got to take a chance. But you also have to hedge your bet and you hedge your bet by a performance bond,” said Castiglia.
Mayor Woodward ensured that they were working on a performance bond, they just needed to figure out how to develop one with no monetary value.
“I understand your concerns and I can tell you as mayor I feel the same concerns, maybe even more, and I know sitting here on my thumbs not doing anything, nothing is going to get done,” said Woodward. “Your points are all well taken and we will proceed with extreme caution.”