Kokosing files suit over city port

WEIRTON – Kokosing Construction Co., general contractor for the earthwork done at the Weirton port, is suing the actual owners of the property for more than $500,000, claiming they still haven’t been paid for site improvements they did at the behest of their tenant.

Kokosing filed suit on Sept. 16 in U.S. District Court in Wheeling against Center Point Terminal Co. and Go Green America Recycling, owners of record of the 6.5-acre site in the Half Moon Industrial Park.

Go Green originally had the option to buy the parcel currently occupied by the port, with plans to join WAPA’s private investment group, Tri State Port Management. That plan fell through, however, so Center Point instead acquired the property and planned to eventually resell it to the port in exchange for a parcel APEX Oil needed for its expansion.

According to a May 2012 resolution passed by WAPA’s board of directors and posted on its website, the port is leasing the property for $6,000 a month.

In the lawsuit, Kokosing claims it had “delivered all of the labor and materials and has performed all of the work required” under their contract with the Weirton Area Port Authority.

“However, in spite of plaintiff’s demand for payment of the contract price, (Weirton Area Port Authority) has refused to pay plaintiff the sum of $513,349.94, although this amount is due and payable to plaintiff,” the company said.

Work done by the Westerville, Ohio, based contractor at the port site included a transfer pad as well as a retention pond, storm sewers, catch basins and downspout collection lines.

A copy of a September 2012 invoice, included with the lawsuit, detailed nearly $170,000 in costs incurred by Kokosing up to that point and indicated the total project cost was not to exceed $800,000, stipulated that the work would be done by Dec. 31, 2012, and agreed that invoices were payable in full within 45 days of their receipt.

That invoice/purchase order was endorsed Sept. 21, 2012, by the port’s general manager, Jim Greco.

Also included were copies of mechanics liens filed six months ago in Brooke County against Go Green, which controls the 5.962-acre parcel housing the port’s administration and maintenance building, and Center Point, the real estate controlling arm for APEX Oil, which holds title to a 0.45-acre parcel housing a gas unloading station.

Kokosing General Counsel Mike Currie had previously described mechanics liens as a tool used to “assert a claim against real property for amounts due for labor and material used in furtherance” of a project. At the time the liens were filed, Currie had said they’d been told variously that they’d be paid with grant money, federal funding or private investment dollars, none of which had materialized.

WAPA Chairman B.J. DeFelice had disputed the company’s claim, saying then that any companies and individuals that hadn’t been paid either weren’t under contract or hadn’t completed the terms of their agreement. He’d also said in Kokosing’s case, there was a “complete disagreement on what expectations were, what the deliverable was” and that the company “didn’t meet the process” and suggested he had documentation that supports “they were financing the project, not invoicing us.”

Kokosing is asking the court to order Go Green and Center Point to pay them for the $513,349.94 in work done, plus interest and costs involved in filing the suit and recording the liens, or order the sale of the properties to satisfy the liens.

Earlier this year the port also was sued for non-payment by Bridgeport, W.Va., based Citynet. That company filed suit in Hancock County Circuit Court in March for more than $221,000 it claims it is owed for work done on a fiber-optic network allegedly commissioned by Karl Keffer, a former port adviser who has been serving as WAPA’s interim director.

(Harris can be contacted at lharris@heraldstaronline.com.)