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City Discusses Future Of Smart Parking Meters

A smart parking meter that will be installed in the downtown area of the city. The Jamestown City Council during its work session meeting discussed entering into an agreement with ID SignSystems Inc. for $472,788 for the project to install smart parking meters and directional signage to city attractions. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

Later this month, the Jamestown City Council will vote to possibly install smart parking meters in the downtown area.

On Monday during the council work session meeting, city officials discussed the smart parking meters and attraction wayfinding signs that will be installed downtown.

Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist said not all the parking meters will be replaced, but 135 smart parking meters will be installed downtown. He said because the original bids on the project came in higher than expected, city officials acquired more funding from the federal and state governments for the project. However, this also increased the local match for the project, of which the city will now fund $22,000 from the contingency budget. The Gebbie Foundation is funding $100,000 toward the local match.

In 2017, city officials received the federal Transportation Alternatives Program/Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant for $400,000. However, because of the increased cost of the project, the state awarded the city an additional $88,000 in federal funding.

The council will vote on three resolutions dealing with the project at its next meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday. One of the resolutions will authorize the mayor to enter into an agreement with ID SignSystems Inc. for $472,788 for the project. Another resolution will authorize the use of $22,000 from the contingency budget. The third resolution will authorize the mayor to execute all necessary agreements.

In other business, the council discussed the parking ticket amnesty program it will host during the month of October. The program will allow people with a parking violation to bring a donation to waive any penalties on the ticket. The donation could be school supplies, canned goods or an item for the elderly. The amnesty program will only apply to the five oldest tickets owed, with one donation for each ticket.

Kim Ecklund, At-Large councilwoman, said there is a total of $319,144.50 owed in parking tickets and penalties over the last five years. Sundquist said, in total, there is more than $500,000 owed to the city.

Anthony Dolce, council president, said the three violations with the most unpaid tickets include alternate parking, expired inspection and meter violations.

In February, Sundquist discussed the possibility of the parking ticket amnesty program with the council. He said there is more than $587,000 in uncollected parking ticket fines. He added city officials should be looking for ways to collect as much revenue as possible. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the parking ticket amnesty program wasn’t started.

The city of Jamestown last ran a parking ticket amnesty program in 2016. The program was announced in March 2016 and operated during the month of April. The program allowed vehicle owners with outstanding tickets to pay the face value of those tickets, waiving any penalties or fees that may have accrued.

City officials in the spring of 2016 reported raising between $25,000 to $30,000 from the one month parking ticket amnesty program.

The council also read a resolution, but held no discussion on the proposal to hire outside legal assistance in the Tracy Plaza lawsuit.

Next week, the council is slated to vote on possibly hiring Wright, Wright and Hampton attorney Joseph Calimeri for a cost not to exceed $10,000 in the case against Patterson-Stevens, the contractor hired by the city to renovate Tracy Plaza.

In a staff report from Elliot Raimondo, city corporation counsel, to Sundquist, Raimondo states that he reached out to Calimeri because he specializes in municipal litigation and has represented the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities, as well as other local municipalities, in the past.

In July, Patterson-Stevens Inc. of Tonawanda filed the lawsuit against the city in State Supreme Court in Chautauqua County. According to the lawsuit, Patterson-Stevens claimed it has suffered monetary damages in the amount of at least $306,048 because the city allegedly breached the contract by delaying the start of the project, issued an improper stop work order, interfered with the contractor’s performance of the contract, improperly withheld payments or failed to pay or rejected invoices as required by the contract and improperly delayed completion of the project well beyond the scheduled June 30, 2018, completion date. Patterson-Stevens asked the court to order the release of the $306,048 payment, but also pay any interest, attorney fees, costs and disbursements, along with any further relief as the court deems necessary and proper.

According to the lawsuit, the city entered into a contract with Patterson-Stevens in July 2017 to oversee phase two renovation work of Tracy Plaza, which included the replacement of the plaza deck, which also serves as a roof over the Jamestown police and fire departments. The initial contract called for a payment of $1,534,864 to the firm. Additional change orders raised the total to $1,645,689.

Funding for the Tracy Plaza renovation project came mostly from a $1.48 million New York State Green Innovation Grant program funding the city received in December 2016.

In September 2017, a rain storm led to significant flooding of the Jamestown Police Department. According to city officials, the flooding was due to Patterson-Stevens not properly securing the deck during the renovation project. The flooding caused damage to city equipment, files, computers and radios. The main entrance to the police department was closed to the public for months.

In September 2018, city officials claimed additional damage was done to the Jamestown Fire Department when again rain water poured into the interior during the ongoing renovation work. Again, city officials claimed Patterson-Stevens was at fault for the water damage.

In February 2019, the city, through its insurance company, filed a lawsuit in Chautauqua County Supreme Court against Patterson-Stevens seeking $2 million in payments due to the water damage. The case is ongoing and hasn’t been settled.

In the lawsuit filed by Patterson-Stevens, the contracting firm states the city delayed the start of the project in the summer of 2017 by one month. It also says that it undertook efforts to protect the surface below the plaza deck from water and moisture, including the installation of a temporary roof.

In April 2018, the city issued a stop work order for the project and ordered Patterson-Stevens to remove the temporary roof. The firm claims the damage that was done after April 2018 was due to the city’s improper stop work order. According to the lawsuit. the city at times also withheld payments for work being done. In total, Patterson-Stevens officials claim the city still owes them $306,048.

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