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Hearing Today Will Determine If Wildwood Boardwalk Renovations Can Continue

Shay Roddy
The Wildwood Boardwalk on Oct. 30. Work was brought to a stop on a project to renovate the famous attraction, after a losing bidder filed suit in Superior Court, arguing there were fatal deficiencies with the winning bidder’s proposal.

By Shay Roddy

A hearing today, Nov. 1, will determine if work can resume on the Wildwood Boardwalk renovations, which were brought to a halt by a court order earlier this month after a contractor sued the city for what it claimed were deficiencies with the low-bidder’s proposal.

To date, the suit has caused a work stoppage of almost two weeks. It was filed in Superior Court by L. Feriozzi Concrete Company, naming Wildwood and Fred M. Schiavone Construction, who the city awarded the contract to, as codefendants on Oct. 11.

In court today Judge Michael J. Blee will hear oral arguments on if a temporary restraining order that was entered should remain. Blee can rule that the restraints, also known as an injunction, will remain in place or the injunction will be lifted, allowing work on the project to resume. The judge could also determine the work should continue but with a different contractor running point if he is persuaded there are fatal deficiencies in Schiavone’s proposal.

It is unclear if Blee will be ready to rule from the bench during the hearing or if he will issue a written decision at some time after the hearing.

The consequences of the lawsuit could be devastating to the city and some of its boardwalk business owners. In two prior phases of boardwalk repairs, performed the last two offseasons, renovations were complete and the boardwalk was reopened just weeks before Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial kickoff to summer and the tourism season. Those projects included no work stoppages and benefited from mild weather.

Even if the judge determines the city and Schiavone did nothing wrong in the bid process, the delays already caused and any delays in issuing judgement could push the project into late May or beyond. The boards have already been ripped up and the boardwalk is closed between Spencer and Wildwood avenues. The section is one of the most popular and well-trafficked and includes Morey’s Piers’ Mariner’s Amusement Pier and Raging Waters Water Park.

Boards have already been removed on part of the Wildwood Boardwalk, but for now all work is at a standstill pending the outcome of a lawsuit brought against the city. Photo Credit: Shay Roddy

A motion to intervene has also been submitted in the case on behalf of Morey’s Piers, the Boardwalk Special Improvement District, the Greater Wildwoods Tourism and Improvement Development Authority and the owner of two parking lots leased by the city for the project. The motion asks the court to allow those interested parties to be heard, as they will all be affected by the outcome of the litigation.

Feriozzi, the plaintiff, was the second-place bidder. In its pleadings, Feriozzi focuses on a component of the project that calls for structural steel work, part of the construction of an archway sign that the project includes.

Feriozzi claims that Schiavone is not qualified to self-perform the work and they do not name a subcontractor in their bid. Feriozzi and another losing bidder both named subcontractors who they designated to perform the structural steel work in their bids, something both contractors acknowledged they did not have the qualifications necessary to do themselves.

Feriozzi goes on to say Schiavone is limited to two options – secretly and illegally hiring a subcontractor to perform the work or self-performing it, something Feriozzi claims Schiavone is “absolutely unqualified” to do.

In response, the city and the contractor argue they did nothing wrong in the bid process and that the plaintiffs did not overcome their burden of demonstrating an injunction is necessary. They said Schiavone can self-perform the work and will.

The contract was awarded to Schiavone by the Wildwood Board of Commissioners, who followed the recommendation of its engineering firm, which reviewed the bids. Schiavone’s bid beat Feriozzi’s by under $200,000 for the over $7 million contract.

The Wildwood Boardwalk entrance at Schellenger Avenue Oct. 30. The boardwalk is closed for renovations, but work is stopped, pending the resolution of a lawsuit brought by a contractor who lost the job in the bidding process. Photo Credit: Shay Roddy

Reporter

Shay Roddy is a Delaware County, Pennsylvania native who has always spent as much of his summers as he could at the Jersey Shore. He went to Friends’ Central and is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

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