Roe Parsons of McCune was born in Pittsburg, grew up in the area, and has “got along famously with the city for years,” he says, but since working as a contractor on the Block22 project — a partnership between the City of Pittsburg, Pittsburg State University and Springfield, Missouri-based developer the Vecino Group — Parsons is having second thoughts.
Parsons says he is owed about $100,000 for fire protection work on the mixed use development project in downtown Pittsburg. He discussed his concerns during the public input period of Tuesday’s Pittsburg City Commission meeting.
“I’d like to know how many other lawsuits have been filed against Block22 and liens placed on the building, and how many other contractors haven’t been paid,” he said. “We’re going on two years waiting on our money and it’s getting a little ridiculous.”
Parsons’s company RP3 Inc. shared a document with the Morning Sun indicating that at least one other company, Missouri-based Brock Drywall, Inc. has claimed it was owed more than $400,000 for work on the project. RP3, along with Block22, LLC, Vecino Design, LLC, and several other parties were named as defendants in the case.
Parsons said no one is left at Vecino Group who was there when he began work on Block22, which was completed in 2018.
“All the managers, project managers have moved on to somewhere else, superintendents, everybody,” Parsons said. His company filed a lien against Block22 last February, he said, and will soon have to do so again.
“You have to file a lien every year. Once you file, you’ve got to keep it up,” Parsons said. “We filed with their attorneys. Well they’ve changed attorneys now so our attorney has to refile all the paperwork with their new attorney, and they’ll keep doing that, playing that out until who knows.”
Parsons said he would like to see the City of Pittsburg and PSU do something about the issue.
“If they’re going to have people like this in town doing business, I mean they’re ripping off local businesses,” Parsons said. “Somebody’s got to be responsible. We were responsible enough to get it done, and they’re not paying us.”
City of Pittsburg Public Information Manager Sarah Runyon said the issue is a dispute between a contractor and a subcontractor, and the city had no further comment. Both Runyon and PSU Director of Media Relations Andra Stefanoni referred the Morning Sun to Mat Burton, president of public private partnership for Vecino Group.
Burton could not be reached for comment by press time but a Pittsburg attorney, Mark Werner, did call back, saying he represented Vecino Design and Construction.
“In any large construction project there’s going to be disagreements between contractors and subcontractors regarding the project and regarding budgeted costs, and it’s not often that you hear those in public, and there’s an appropriate mechanism for addressing those in the contract documents and Mr. Parsons should take the appropriate method for addressing those and he’s not,” Werner said. “The City is not a party in the contracts and they have no information regarding those contracts.”
Werner said the Brock Drywall case was not filed appropriately and has been stayed.
Neil Brock, owner of Brock Drywall, said Thursday that the case is now going to arbitration because that is what the contract stipulated, and will be decided in late March or early April.
“These types of issues are common in construction projects and there’s nothing unusual about this one,” Werner said.
Parsons said despite the promotion of Block22 as a successful effort to revitalize downtown Pittsburg, there is another side to the story. He said he is unsure about working with the City of Pittsburg in the future after his experience working on Block22.
“It’s, you know, kind of bad that everybody’s looking at this as a great thing that happened in Pittsburg,” he said, “but you know here’s a bunch of us that’s out a lot of money that made it happen and we’re not seeing any help from anyone.”