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Purchase Administration Butts Heads with Construction Contractors

Updated: Oct 23, 2018

by Brian Ponte

Photo by Ben Verde

Once slated to open for the Spring 2018 semester, and with no timeline currently in place, Purchase’s delayed Center for Media, Film and Theater has been a continuing source of frustration for both the student body and Purchase faculty, staff, and administrators.

While an email sent out to the college community placed most of the blame for the delays on the shoulders of Worth Construction Co., the firm hired for the project, representatives for Worth called the college’s claims, “baseless allegations” and cited negligence from the administration as the cause for the delayed construction.

“Worth has not met multiple completion deadlines or staffing requirements needed to finish the building on time,” an email from Vice President for Academic Affairs Barry Pearson and Chief Financial Officer Judy Nolan said. “After yet another failure on the part of Worth to meet their completion schedule, we have entered into fruitful conversations with the State University Construction Fund (SUCF), their attorneys, and SUNY administration to take steps that will help achieve our goals of opening the building once it meets all our safety and quality standards.”

Photo by Ben Verde

In response to these claims, representatives for Worth, said that the company notified the SUNY Construction fund of “multiple issues within the exclusive control of the owner and its design team, that have caused significant delays in the construction of the project.” J. Scott Greer, an attorney representing Worth claims that the SUCF and its design team “mostly ignored Worth,” and that delays to the building are due to “inaction on their part.”

“There was asbestos that was discovered in the Pavilion area that was not accounted for on the contract documents,” Greer said in an email. “From the time that Worth notified the design team of the issue until the time that change order was issued for the additional necessary work took a total of 570 calendar days. As you can see this issue alone took well over a year to get resolved.”

Greer cited other cases of inaction by the college in the in-depth response, including hollow metal door and hardware changes, concrete slab on grade and footing issues, and structural steel changes, and included the time it took the college to respond to each issue (547 days, 211 days, and 341 days respectively).

Greer claims that these examples are just the tip of the iceberg, and that there are “literally dozens of documented delays attributable to design errors, and omissions, owner-initiated design changes, and the repeated failure of the owner and its design team to promptly and effectively resolve design issues.”

Michael Kopas, Senior Director of Facilities and Capital Planning at Purchase clarified that capital projects are run by the SUCF, while reiterating the college’s stance that Worth are to blame for the delays.

“There has been considerable concern with Worth’s lack of progress from both SUCF and Purchase,” Kopas said.

According to Kopas, given the extent of the issues, it is not possible to provide an updated timeline for the project’s completion as it is important to “make sure that the quality of work is not compromised in an effort to complete the project as quickly as possible.”

“At this time, I do not foresee Worth having another opportunity to do work on the Purchase Campus," Kopas said. “The time devoted to this effort has been immense, but required in order to serve the long-term interests of our students.”



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