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Greenwood will re-bid new city hall remodel project

The remodeling of the former Memorial Medical Center clinic building into Greenwood’s new city hall will be delayed about a month as the city goes through the construction bidding process for a second time. The City Council voted to reject the first round of bids last week because of technical problems with the low bidder’s submission.

LB& R Construction of Greenwood submitted the low bid for the work, at $145,950 for the base project. The next low bid was $181,543 from Lechleitner Builders Inc. of Conrath, and Huotari Construction of Medford bid the job at $185,978. The work will include various exterior and interior remodeling of the building at Main and School streets that the city bought a year ago for new space for its city office functions. The city police department already was renting space in that building. The city’s move from its current office location at Main and Division streets will give the public library room to remodel and expand.

The city advertised for the remodeling bids recently, and opened the three submissions on Dec. 3. While LB& R’s bid was substantially lower than the other two, it did not meet bid specifications in several regards. The bid was not sealed, as required, did not contain a bid bond check, and was not properly signed. The city’s engineer, Larry Gotham of Morgan and Parmley Ltd. of Ladysmith, said the other two bidders raised immediate concerns with the LB& R submission. Gotham said a project owner can waive certain bid “informalities,” but the omissions in the LB& R bid were too significant. If the city were to proceed and award the bid, Gotham said, the others could take legal action.

Gotham listed four options for the city: 1.) Award the bid to LB& R and take a chance on a lawsuit, 2.) Consult the city attorney for an opinion, 3.) Award the bid to the next lowest contractor, which was about $35,600 higher, or 4.) Reject all the bids and re-do the process. The latter option will cost the city some money in extra engineering and publication expenses, but would be the proper way to address the situation. It will also push back the project date, with a new completion date of April 1 for the interior work and July 1 for the exterior portion.

Gotham said awarding the bid to LB& R could be troublesome for the city in other ways than a potential lawsuit. For one, contractors may take note of the way the situation is handled and choose not to bid on future projects for the city. A lawsuit could create legal expense and further delay the project.

“Will there be a lawsuit, you know, who knows?” Gotham said. “We have had a complaint from both contractors already.”

The Council opted to go through the bidding process again. The bid specifications are being published in early December, with a new bid opening date of Dec. 26. The Council will meet in special session that day to award a bid, to avoid further delays. All three contractors who bid the first time are welcome to do so again, and Gotham said more bidders could also submit proposals.

Council member Doug Schlough noted during the discussion that even LB& R’s low bid of $145,950 was higher than for what the city was hoping. The Council then went through the project details and removed some bid items — such as pouring of sidewalks and adding blown-in insulation — which the city crew can do. That should help lower the overall bid amounts.

“The public certainly can’t fault the Council for paring it back as far as we can,” Gotham said.

Once the former MMC building is ready for city hall occupation, the city plans to move ahead with a remodeling project of the current city hall space for the library.

The city bought the MMC property about a year ago for $135,000. It took out a $430,000 loan at that time to fund the MMC building purchase and remodeling, an upgrade to the current city building for library needs, and repairs to the city-owned Branstiter “Old Streets of Greenwood” museum on South Main Street. The repairs to the museum are happening now, at a cost of $104,438. LB& R also submitted the low bid for that job.