Canalside proj mgr claims discrimination

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Progress has been stalled since the summer at the project that is called the centerpiece of Canalside.

The legal fight involving the Canalside project and DiPizio Construction is costing taxpayers a lot of money. Through a Freedom of Information request News 4 filed on September 25, we have learned the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation has paid the law firm of Phillips Lytle nearly $82,000 in 2012 and close to $250,000 through the end of September this year.

That amounts to more than $331,000 in taxpayer money used to pay legal bills. And now there is a new wrinkle in the case.

Rosanne DiPizio claims that she knows why her family’s construction company was terminated from the Canalside project in May. Rosanne, who was the project manager on the job, claims the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation blamed her exclusively for things that went wrong on the job.

“I believe that it is because I’m a woman,” Rosanne said. “I’ve never, ever had anybody say that everything on a job is one person’s fault. Let alone the one girl.”

DiPizio Construction, which was the lowest bidder on the project, has been engaged in a legal battle with the state, filing multiple lawsuits.

Rosanne, on her own behalf, recently filed a sex discrimination complaint with the State Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau. Specifically, the complaint points to Canal Harbor President Thomas Dee and the agency’s Director of Construction, Mark Smith, and says Rosanne was pushed off the job “because they did not want to work with me.”

“I would like somebody to look into this. A real investigation done to determine if they did this to my family because I’m a woman,” she said.

Work at the former Memorial Auditorium site is only partially done. It was supposed to be finished in November 2012, and weather will determine when construction resumes.

DiPizio Construction would not release what it has paid in legal fees, claiming that’s part of the ongoing legal dispute over damage claims. And while the company recently won two court rulings involving major aspects of the project, the state is appealing.

As for the discrimination complaint being brought by Rosanne, a state spokesperson tells News 4, “We don’t comment on pending litigation.”

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