The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 1, 2010

Highland bid rejected, project postponed again

The Highland Building Committee may re-bid the stabilization project a third time this winter, after the single painting sub-bid received was rejected, at $87,000. Five bids were received earlier in the month for the general contracting work. Committee member Bob Stone conducted a phone interview on September 22 with architect Lynn Spencer of Menders, Torrey and Spencer (MTS), the architectural firm hired to oversee the project, and determined that the one sub-bid would be unacceptable as “it’s not worth $87,000 to paint this building.”

The bid documents had been rewritten after the project was advertised last spring, when the only bid received was rejected as too high.

Why was sub-bid too high?

There was a concern mentioned at the committee’s meeting on September 22 that the packaging of this job for painters had included lead paint removal, a job usually conducted by the general contractor. This may be one reason the bid came in high. Spencer said that if the committee decided to delay the project until next summer, she would restructure the Request for Proposal (RFP) so that the general contractor would remove the lead paint and repackage the sub-bid for painting. She feels that this would attract more and better contracting bids and painting sub-bids.

Coordinating with school

There is also a concern that since the Selectmen must approve the stabilization work and it is to be presented to the School Committee as well, the project would not be completed in time for painting to occur during warm weather. If only the painting is deferred to the spring, there will be a high (in the neighborhood of $25,000) “remobilization” fee to the contractor, who will charge to re-fence the area and put a supervisor on the painting job. This would cut into the contingency funds and possibly send the project over budget.

The possibility that the School Committee (CSC) might not approve the site logistics plan would push the project to the close of school next summer anyway. Mary Storrs said, “I don’t think the School Committee wants to prevent a reasonable plan, but more information is needed to make a good decision.” Storrs is one of two CSC representatives on the Highland Building Committee. The Highland Committee has not yet presented the logistics site plan in detail to the CSC, but plans to do so at the School Committee meeting on October 5.

Credibility questioned

Storrs also asked about the credibility of the project if it is deferred “a third time. Would contractors not bid on the project?” Stone thinks that if the job is “repackaged to be attractive to a contractor who can control his risks and the sub-contractor’s risks, such that the job will not take place while school is in session,” there would be more competitive bids.

Coordination with architects

Stone questioned other choices that MTS made in writing the RFP, such as putting staging under the auspices of each sub-bidder instead of under the auspices of the general contractor, against the wishes of the committee. There is some concern as well that the lead paint abatement provision was added to the RFP after the committee had approved an original, but before the actual RFP went out to bid.

Stone concluded that given the present circumstances of checking on the lead paint abatement and the onset of cold weather, “If we awarded this job on October 12 [after the Selectmen and School Committee meetings], it would be nothing but nightmares” because of weather considerations, because it would invite criticism from the school authorities and others, and because it would mean finishing certain parts of the work in the spring. He recommended re-bidding in the winter.

Rebid set for January

John Ballantine moved that the committee vote to postpone the project and re-bid it in mid-January for a start after school closes for the summer. This motion carried. Storrs asked, “What do we do to get ready for January?”

Next steps will be to review all notes to be sure that the RFP will be rewritten to more exactly reflect the committee’s wishes. The architects will be submitting “Scheme D” for the interior of the building, and those conversations on interior layout can continue. The committee will then revive discussions of possible uses of the building. ∆

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