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LOCKPORT – The city’s biggest parking project in nearly 40 years is bogged down in litigation, but that’s not stopping the city from going ahead with plans for a parking study this summer.

Common Council President Anne E. McCaffrey said Wednesday that two University at Buffalo master’s degree candidates in urban planning have been chosen to carry out a study of how to improve parking availability in the city’s downtown business district.

Amanda Fowler and Leyla Akhundzada will meet Monday with city and business representatives, McCaffrey said.

The students will spend three or four days a week in Lockport this summer, interviewing business people and others to come up with recommendations by the end of the summer.

This development comes as the city’s plan to demolish its parking ramp at Main and Pine streets is on hold until a lawsuit by a rejected bidder is settled.

Scott Lawn Yard of Sanborn bid $987,000 to demolish the five-level, 260-space ramp and replace it with a 42-space surface parking lot.

That bid was $190,000 less than the next-lowest offer, from Empire Dismantlement of Grand Island.

However, the Scott bid was deemed to be late, because the Scott employee who delivered it to City Hall was told by an unidentified city worker that he shouldn’t be at City Hall but rather at the office of the city’s engineering and design firm for the project, Conestoga-Rovers & Associates, in Buffalo.

According to the suit filed last week by Scott’s attorney, John P. Bartolomei of Niagara Falls, Scott employee Christopher Juliano went to City Hall at 12:55 p.m. April 5, was told to leave and arrived at the Conestoga-Rovers offices on Delaware Avenue at 1:50 p.m.

A Conestoga-Rovers employee called City Hall, then told Juliano to go back to Lockport, where the bids were due at 2 p.m. Juliano arrived at about 2:30, where a Conestoga-Rovers employee opened his bid and told him it was the lowest of the 10 submitted. However, the Common Council, on the advice of Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano, awarded the contract to Empire on April 10.

On May 1, State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. signed a temporary restraining order barring any work until Scott’s suit is settled. Attorneys are to appear before Kloch on May 23.

Mayor Michael W. Tucker said no work has been done other than a preconstruction meeting with Empire.

Before the legal hassle, the project was supposed to have been finished by the end of July. The ramp, which opened in 1975, has been closed since 2006 because of deteriorating concrete.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com