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Pasco commissioners fire firm building Collier Parkway extension

DADE CITY — Pasco commissioners on Tuesday voted to fire WDG Construction from a $4.3 million job extending Collier Parkway in Land O'Lakes, saying the firm had not worked on the project since December and had also allowed its insurance coverage to lapse.

County officials say they have processed more than $1.3 million in payments to the firm.

"It's a sad commentary on the times we're in," said Chairwoman Pat Mulieri.

WDG won the bid in April 2009 and was supposed to finish by May 4 of this year. County officials estimate the project is only about 40 percent complete.

In January, the county sent a letter to WDG president Nick Kotaiche, saying officials were concerned about the firm's ability to finish the project on schedule. WDG did not respond.

After sending out that letter, Pasco got word that WDG's general liability and automobile insurance policies terminated Jan. 25, according to a memo to commissioners. Workers compensation coverage expired on Feb. 8.

As part of its contract with the county, WDG was required to maintain those types of coverage.

Pasco officials say they also received several notices of nonpayment from subcontractors on the project.

Pasco County Engineer Jim Widman sent WDG a notice of breach of contract on Jan. 27. Officials plan to pursue a claim on WDG's performance bond.

Widman wrote in a memo to commissioners that "the county has also heard from several sources that the company has either been sold or is in the process of being sold."

Last month, WDG's vice president of operations, Gerald Spierings, told the Times the firm's parent company was merging with St. Petersburg-based Atlas Land Development Co.

He blamed the construction delays on the reorganization and a cold snap but said he expected to finish the job.

"We've had no problem with payroll," he said. "We are still here and we intend to be here tomorrow and the next day."

WDG's phone number at its Wesley Chapel office was disconnected Monday.

Kotaiche is also a vice president of St. Petersburg-based Terra Excavating, part of Terra Construction Group, according to state records.

This is the second construction firm commissioners have fired recently from road projects.

In August, commissioners fired Kearney Construction Co., which later declared bankruptcy, from a U.S. 41 utility project beset with delays and other problems — a move that led the firm to sue the county for wrongful termination.

Last month, Pasco got the go-ahead from a bankruptcy judge to remove Kearney from another county job behind schedule: the extension of DeCubellis Road from Town Center Road to Ridge Road.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Pasco commissioners fire firm building Collier Parkway extension 02/09/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 9:04pm]
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