2018-01-31 / Front Page

Dept. of Design & Construction Comes To Queens Chamber of Commerce

By Thomas Cogan

At an afternoon meeting in January, the transportation committee of the Queens Chamber of Commerce welcomed an associate commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction and another DDC official to its headquarters at the Bulova Center in East Elmhurst, where they heard a description of the agency and what it is doing to advance development in Queens.  The two DDC speakers were aided by agency promotional films and statistics that showed it has to be devoted to Queens, with its population exceeding two million, and because of that number of people, its consequent needs.  The presentation was quite positive but the representatives ultimately encountered criticism, particularly from one man, when the audience was given the chance to ask questions.  The meeting remained orderly as both QCC and DDC officials resolved to see what could be done to correct any malfunctions, such as the one alleged at the meeting, that might have been made in the field.

Leading the DDC presentation was Shah Jaromi, its associate commissioner.  He introduced himself as someone who has worked for 30 years at the DDC and other agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Protection.  He said the DDC, which has headquarters in Queens at 30-30 Thomson Ave., works on superstructure and infrastructure, putting its mark on everything, from libraries (the one in Far Rockaway was named as an example) and museums to roadways and sewers.  He showed a picture of stonewater runoff at the Queens Botanical Garden and said that DDC has designed 12,000 acres of this purification procedure in Queens and other parts of the city.  There have been 4,151 DDC projects completed since 1996, he said, before noting that there are close to 80 construction projects, worth about $1.2 billion, going on in Queens right now.  The current portfolio value of the agency is $15 billion and is expected to be $17 billion by 2020.

After Jaromi, Chris Esposito-Bernard talked about the procurement process, referring first to the Web site (www1.nyc.gov/site/ddc/contracts), where he said the first section to see is about contracts.  The agency uses open Requests for Proposals, or RFP, for most of its design and construction contracts.  RFPs are open to all interested firms.  DDC uses pre-qualification lists, or PQL, when soliciting bids for selected projects.  That allows it to evaluate the qualifications of vendors, based on their work experience, size, the estimated cost of a project and other considerations.  Request for Qualifications, or RFQ, serves as an application for pre-qualification for the agency’s PQLs.  There is a requirement to register before an applicant can download a pre-qualification application.  Also required is a lot of patience, Esposito-Bernard said.

When the question period began, a man saying his organization amounted to a South Korean Economic Development Corporation said he was interested in Department of Transportation  projects, having in mind one on the Manhattan Bridge.  He asked if Koreans might qualify to bid, which amounted to an inquiry about foreign participation.  Jaromi said it was possible, referring to a Spanish company with a significant contract on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan.  He cautioned that all bidders from outside New York must make themselves aware of local situations.  A bidder from North Carolina (or anywhere else) would have to find out about unions in New York, he said as an example.

It was a man from the Rockaways who came down on the agency with a strong complaint about a large project on roads and sewers at that seaside community, which he said was a failure all the way. The roadway that was laid out was not to its proper width, he said, and the sewers that were built could not contain the great increase in water from the ocean during a heavy storm, the result being a flooded neighborhood.  Asked what his question might be, he demanded to know why such an incompetent job was done.  Jaromi’s immediate reply was of a general nature that left the man unimpressed.  Jaromi said he would like to meet the man after the meeting and the man angrily requested he come out to the Rockaways, to see how jerry-built the project is. 

Tom Grech, Queens Chamber president, cooled the heated situation by asking the man to take photographs of the project and its alleged faults, send them to the chamber and he would go out to the Rockaways to look at it personally.  After the meeting ended, Jaromi and the man had their own consultation.

The meeting was less contentious after that, a characteristic question being about why warranty periods are longer in Europe than here.  Jaromi said it’s a matter of balance. 

He had an anecdote about finding an ancient grave site while excavating in the Washington Square Park area and also of finding a buried pipe that nobody could claim and which turned out to be an old postal tube. 

Grech brought the meeting to a serious ending by asking about MWBE (Minority, Women and Business Enterprise) projects, saying that potentially there are billions of dollars that could be involved.  Hersh K. Parekh, Queens regional representative from Governor Cuomo’s office, said that everyone interested should become qualified, there being many instructional classes available that point the way to qualification.  That advice was backed up by a woman who said she had become MWBE-certified and is able to work on many projects in the city.

Return to top

Copyright 1999-2018 The Service Advertising Group, Inc. All rights reserved.