Layoffs at Riverbend project may not last

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Consider it the ‘growing pains’ of one of the biggest construction project Buffalo has seen in years.

On Friday, two hundred workers on the Solar City Riverbend construction project on South Park Avenue were told they were laid off. They work for subcontractors like Mader Construction, Quackenbush Company, and Mollenberg and Betz. New York State is behind by 85 million dollars in payments since October on the Riverbend project, and it was having a domino effect for the contractors and suppliers.

Hours later, some more encouraging news came by way of LP Ciminelli Senior Vice President Kevin Schuler. “We’ve now been assured that the funding will begin to flow and be dispersed early next week. We’re gonna spend the weekend reaching out to the contracting community with the good news with the expectation that everyone will be back to work and the project will remain on schedule.”

NY State Assemblyman Michael Kearns doesn;t think it should’ve gone this far. “One of the things that concerns me that I did mention to the Governor’s Office that prompt payment is important. I know I couldn’t run my household budget waiting for my paycheck for forty five days, so it’s something I;m going to follow up and look into why it took so long for payment to be processed.”

Ciminelli’s Vice President Kevin Schuler says the public payment process often lags behind, especially in a project of this size. “You know I think it’s the size and scope of the project. You know in Buffalo, a $40 million project is a sizable project. We’ve been doing $40million a month.”

New York State Assembly 143rd District Mmeber Angela Wozniak says I have been skeptical of Solar City for months, and have made numerous calls and written letters to the Department of Labor requesting information, that have gone unanswered. Solar City is just another example of millions of dollars being wasted at the hands of our Governor, who continues to make promises that go unfulfilled.”

NY State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer believes there’s enough blame to go around between the company and the State. “You know, these types of projects are done all the time, they’re done without interruption. My belief is it could’ve been done without interruption if both people were talking to each other.”

Schuler says it is possible that the two hundred workers who received layoff notices may miss some work days next week, but that will be up to their employers. “The money begins flowing next week, we don’t foresee these issue rising again for the rest of the project, by the work the State has done a tremendous amount of effort over the last 48 hours to get everything in place, and we think it’s gonna be smooth sailing now.” said Schuler.

Empire State Development Spokesman Jason Conwall says “Payments are being processed and all stakeholders agree this project will remain on schedule and is still slated to open in the third quarter of 2017.”

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