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December 22, 2022

Polar Park contractor to pay $1.9M over false claims of diversity inclusion

Photo | Grant Welker Polar Park's playing field from behind home plate

A joint venture of Gilbane Building Co. of Providence, Rhode Island and Hunt Construction Group, Inc. of Indianapolis, Indiana agreed to pay $1.9 million to resolve allegations that it misrepresented allocation of work to disadvantaged businesses while building the Polar Park baseball stadium in Worcester. 

On Wednesday, Attorney General Maura Healey’s office filed an assurance of discontinuance in Suffolk Superior Court alleging that the joint venture violated the Massachusetts False Claims Act and consumer protection laws. Healey’s office says Gilbane/Hunt misled the Worcester Redevelopment Authority by falsely stating in its bid for Polar Park Project that it planned to “maximize participation of woman and minority-owned businesses (W/MBEs), and then, once selected to manage the project, misrepresented the status of W/MBE participation to the Worcester Redevelopment Authority (WRA) until the project was substantially complete.” 

“Construction companies in Massachusetts must live up to their promises to create opportunities for women and minority-owned businesses on public projects,” Healey said in a press release. “If a company says that the inclusion of diverse businesses is a priority in an effort to win a public contract, we are going to ensure that they are held accountable for those representations.”

Under the terms of the settlement, Gilbane/Hunt will pay $1.9 million to the state, of which Worcester will receive $500,000 as restitution. According to the press release, the city has agreed to use the proceeds of the settlement to promote W/MBE participation in government contracting. 

“The City of Worcester plans to utilize the $500,000 proceeds along with $550,000 we have already committed through the American Rescue Plan Act to help implement our Minority and Women Business Enterprise initiative,” Worcester City Manager Eric Batista said in the press release. “Our work to improve government contracting opportunities with underrepresented businesses is one of our recent initiatives to ensure our economic development strategy is more equitable and inclusive.”

An investigation by the Attorney General’s Office found that Gilbane/Hunt made misrepresentations in its bid for the Polar Park project, failed to provide the WRA with accurate monthly updates on the status of W/MBE participation, and submitted multiple requests for payment that falsely certified its compliance with contract terms. The Attorney General’s investigation determined that Gilbane Building Company failed to disclose the existence of this investigation as required in multiple filings with the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance in 2021 and 2022.

On top of the financial penalty, Gilbane Building Company and Hunt Construction will both be monitored for a three-year period to ensure compliance with contract requirements and state laws pertaining to W/MBE participation on public construction projects. 

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December 27, 2022

When Gilbane submitted their bid response they would have submitted their M/WBE commitment. Those are the businesses who should be receiving the settlement.

December 23, 2022

You know how 'those bids' work. One company gets to see all the rest and comes in the lowest.

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