Youngstown intends to terminate Paramount demolition contract

By David Skolnick


The city intends to “terminate the contract” of the company handling the demolition of the former Paramount Theatre and subsequent cleanup for an “intentional breach of its agreement,” according to a letter sent by Law Director Anthony Farris to the business.

In a Wednesday letter to William Baumann, president of the contracting company hired by the city for the work at the downtown location, Farris wrote: “It is apparent that Baumann Enterprises has made no effort to allocate the proper resources to complete the project by the completion date. As such, the completion of the project in calendar year 2013 is now questionable due to the weather restrictions for paving operations.”

The project includes demolishing the former theater, hauling away the debris, backfilling and grading the property and then turning it into an asphalt parking lot. It was supposed to be finished by Sept. 21.

Baumann sent a letter Sept. 17 to Charles Shasho, deputy director of the city’s public works department, asking for and receiving an extension to Nov. 15. The reasons listed were the company’s inability to gain access to an adjacent building that could have been impacted by the demolition and needing more backfill than anticipated.

Also, there were a few weather-related delays.

Just last week, Shasho told The Vindicator that the work would be done by the end of this month or early December, and didn’t object to the delay. He also said last week that the asphalt needed to turn the property on the corner of West Federal and Hazel streets into a parking lot could be an issue because the temperature needs to be at least 40 degrees for it to be poured. But he added, “We’re pretty confident we’ll get asphalt.”

On Thursday, Mayor Charles Sammarone said Shasho was being too “nice” to Baumann, and the city would cut the company’s fee for the work — $721,000 was Baumann’s proposed cost — by $1,000 a day, starting with Nov. 16, the day after the company’s revised completion date.

“There’s a time to be nice and then there is a time to enforce” the contract, Sammarone said. “We gave them an extra two months. We’re a little too nice, and nice people finish last.”

Also, the city is notifying Baumann’s bond company, which would be responsible for payments to another company to finish the job, Farris said.

“They should be working Saturdays and Sundays and getting the job done,” Sammarone said. “I hear complaints from people that this isn’t done. [Baumann] has the responsibility to get it done. There’s no urgency on their part.”

William Baumann couldn’t be reached Thursday by The Vindicator to comment. But an employee at the company, based in Garfield Heights, said he thought the work at the Paramount site was done.

But the asphalt hasn’t been poured. Also, fencing remains around the westbound portion of West Federal at Hazel street, and along Hazel between West Federal and West Commerce streets. The fencing has been up since July 2, closing off a busy portion of downtown.

“Youngstown is not adverse to resolving this issue and moving forward with this project in a manner which is in the best interest of all parties involved,” Farris wrote to Baumann.

The project was to start July 3, but Baumann jumped the gun and blocked off streets a day early.

The demolition was done July 16 with the removal of materials completed July 22, according to William Baumann’s Sept. 17 letter to Shasho.

The city received a state grant for the project.

The building opened in 1918 and closed in 1976. Since then, its ownership passed through several hands before the city bought it for $80,000 in November 2010. Long-term neglect led to the building’s deterioration, and two studies determined that none of the structure, including its facade, could be salvaged.

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