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Hartford, Contractor Close To Agreement



December 11, 2008

The city and the contractor that it paid to remake Park Street are looking to sign an agreement that would end years of finger-pointing surrounding the $5.3 million contract.

Carlos Costa and his company, USA Contractors, won the Park Street contract in 2003. Costa was working on Park Street at the same time that he renovated the home kitchen and bathroom of Mayor Eddie A. Perez.

The long-overdue project to give Park Street a face-lift with new sidewalks and light poles is now largely complete, officials said.

But the legal wrangling isn't.

It's never close until it's done," Costa's attorney, Timothy Corey, said Tuesday. He would not discuss the terms of the agreement. "Both parties have claims against the other, monetary claims."

On Monday, Perez wrote a letter asking the city council to go into a closed-door session to discuss a potential settlement between the city and Costa. Four of the council's nine members did so Monday night, but no action was taken. Sarah Barr, Perez's spokesman, said that Perez has played no role in the negotiations to settle the outstanding claims that the two parties have.

Both parties have agreed to have a mediator involved in the process.

The relationship between Perez and Costa came under scrutiny in the summer of 2007 as state investigators looking into allegations of political corruption at city hall searched Perez's Bloomfield Avenue home and Costa's Airport Road office.

The investigators were looking into kitchen and bathroom work that Costa's company began for the mayor in 2005 and mostly completed in 2006. Perez says he paid roughly $20,000 for the work in July 2007.

A state criminal grand jury is still at work and has expanded its scope to include school construction in the city.

Costa's company won the $5.3 million contract to remake Park Street in 2003, when he was the low bidder by more than $1 million.

In 2006, frustrated city engineers determined that Costa was so far behind on the project that he was in default on his contract and they tried to put his professional insurer on notice a potentially disastrous move for a contractor.

After meeting with Costa in May 2006, Charles Crocini then a mayoral aide in charge of capital projects intervened in favor of keeping Costa on the job, writing to the bond company that the city planned no immediate action against the contractor. The issue ended there.

More than a year ago, the city's public works department told Costa that he could be on the hook for $250,000 and that he had little rope left. Since then, the work on the project has reached the final stages.

"We are close to resolution," Corey said of the project. "The only items that we haven't agreed on now are ones that were the result of vandalism."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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