The city will pay contractor Carlos Costa $485,000 to settle a lawsuit that Costa filed alleging the city owed him money for work he did on a stalled Park Street reconstruction project.
Costa, the man at the center of the bribery case against former Mayor Eddie A. Perez, sued the city for $2.2 million last year, citing a breach of contract, unpaid change orders and unpaid work on what began as a $5.3 million job to reconstruct Park Street. Costa, of USA Contractors, is accused of trading discounted home repairs for Perez's help in holding onto the Park Street contract -- a job mired in problems.
The city council voted in favor of the settlement Monday. As part of the agreement, Costa has agreed not to bid on any contracts through the city, the board of education or parking authority until July 2, 2012.
Councilman Kenneth Kennedy said taking the case to trial could have cost the city as much as the settlement. Council members decided it would better to close the case than spend the same amount or more going to trial.
"We have been told that preparing for trial would cost close to half a million dollars," he said. "The cost would be high because of the number and type of experts we would have needed to testify. We made a decision from a financial standpoint."
Mayor Pedro Segarra said now that the lawsuit is resolved, the city can move ahead with repair work on Park Street.
"We need to start addressing issues like pot holes and lamp posts, just general defects. The lawsuit was an impediment to being able to accomplish that," Segarra said Tuesday. "This will free us up to do some fixing and patching up."
While the city will address some of the smaller problems, it doesn't have the money to do large-scale repairs at this point, he said.
As for the Park Street merchants, Segarra said they're "fed up."
"I met with the merchants, and they seem to be in support of this being settled so they can move forward," he said.
Calls to Costa's attorney, Timothy Corey, were not returned Tuesday.
Costa was working on the Park Street project the same time he was working on the kitchen and bathroom of Perez's Hartford home. Costa has said that he performed $40,000 worth of work on the home but never expected to get paid. Perez paid him roughly $20,000, but only after state investigators came to confront him.
Costa has been charged with two counts of bribery, tampering with physical evidence and conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence. He has pleaded not guilty, and his case is pending in Superior Court in Hartford.
Perez was convicted of five felony corruption charges, including bribery and extortion, and sentenced to three years in prison.