The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 25, 2010

Highland repairs delayed

The Highland Building Committee decided not to accept the single bid that came in for the construction portion of the building’s stabilization plan at their meeting on June 17.

The Request for Proposal for the project was published in late May. A walk-through of the building was held on June 3 and bids were due on June 11. No one attended the walk-through, and despite requests for materials and further information from about eight firms, only Kronenberger and Sons Restoration, Inc., of Middletown, Connecticut, submitted a bid. By comparison, the committee received 19 proposals from architectural firms in answer to its Request for Qualifications in January of this year.

According to Town Administrator and Procurement Officer Tim Goddard, “The project was bid publicly and competitively and the town is free to accept a single bidder provided that there are adequate funds available and the bidder is qualified to perform the work. Having said that, the town is also free to reject any and all bids that it deems not to be in the town’s best interest. But there is no legal impediment to accepting a single bid.”

Everyone present expressed disappointment at not receiving more bids for the project, and most expressed surprise. “There’s no work out there,” said Alan Carpenito. “I can’t understand it.” Architects Menders, Torrey & Spencer (MTS), who are designing and overseeing the project, expressed in a letter to the committee that they believe that companies failed to bid because of the amount of time given for planning and completion of the work (this summer, to be completed before the start of school in the fall). MTS recommended in that letter that the committee reject the bid for lack of competition and put the project out to bid again.

Kronenberger and Sons submitted a bid of $365,000, which was 20% above the architects’ estimate for the cost of the project. Including the architects’ fee of $45,000, the project would then cost $410,000, and that figure would not include sprinkler or boiler installation. The town has granted $445,000 of Community Preservation Act funds to complete the project, so there would remain only $35,000 for these items and any contingencies.

Because Kronenberger and Sons appeared to be a qualified bidder, the committee addressed the bid and examined possible cuts to the project that might leave more money available, such as not replacing the windows and only securing them with storm windows. Most of the committee members, however, felt uncomfortable evaluating the bid in such detail without the expertise of absentees Peter Scavongelli (committee chair), Bob Stone and representatives from MTS.

Timing has also become an issue for the committee, which had planned to complete the project this summer. It discussed re-bidding the project now, anticipating an August start that would extend into the school year, but rejected this idea based on the disruption it would cause to the school. Since the siding and roof will need to be removed and replaced, the project may obstruct entrances to the school from School Street and cause construction site security issues. All agreed that this would cause an insurmountable logistics and public relations problem.

In the end, the committee voted “not to accept the bid because it is not in the town’s best interest to go forward without a competitive bidding process.” The next step will be to meet with the full committee present as well as MTS and decide when to re-bid the project. There is no guarantee that bids will be lower, but the committee agreed that logistics override that concern.

The consensus was to consider bidding the project next winter for a construction start next summer. There are some advantages built into that consideration, as the school building project will be underway and there will be wider security for a larger construction site. However, the committee will have to seek advice from MTS on how to remove the deteriorated fire escape in back of the building, better secure the front steps and prevent further water infiltration while the building waits through yet another winter to be stabilized. To that purpose, the committee plans another meeting on June 28 or 30, depending on the availability of the architects. ∆

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