It apparently wasn’t a bad bid as much as it was one of too few.
In a 4-3 vote Tuesday, the Independence City Council turned down an ordinance that would have authorized a contract with Brandy Electric for ball field lighting at Mill Creek Park. The slated project is for replacing the existing lighting on three of the five fields, and is the third and final phase of a renovation project for the ball field complex.
Brandy Electric’s bid for $297,500 was $581 more than the lowest bid from Pinnacle Electric. According to the agenda item, Pinnacle’s bid did not include the rental of a large piece of machinery necessary for the installation of proposed concrete light poles. In addition, the life-cycle cost of the lighting system proposed by Brandy was more than $4,000 less than Pinnacle, and Brandy offered a more extensive warranty program.
However, where Council Member Curt Dougherty took issue was that only one other bid was submitted, and just two more companies even expressed interest.
“On a contract this big, I would expect to see more than three bids,” he said, suggesting that re-opening the bid process might net a larger, wider spread of choices.
“We’re not in any rush,” Dougherty said.
Eric Urfer, the director of parks and recreation, said after the meeting that the lighting project still could be finished in time for the spring season if the bid process was re-opened, in part because bid specifications would already be completed.
“We’ll meet together to review the bid process and consult with the city manager – but more than likely, yes, we’ll re-open the bid process,” Urfer said. “We’ll have to huddle on it.”
According to the city information, Public Works issued the invitation to bid on the project on Sept. 10, 2013.
“We did quite an extensive advertisement for this project,” Urfer told the Council before the vote. “We went over the bids line by line, detail by detail. I was very happy with the prices that came in.”
When asked by Council Member Jim Schultz if he was sure Brandy Electric’s bid was the best, Urfer replied “absolutely.”
City Manager Robert Heacock added that all the bids came in below an architect’s previous estimated cost of $320,000.
Council Member Marcie Gragg was one of the three “Yes” votes and expressed her discouragement during the end-of-meeting comments.
“I’m concerned about the message it sends to future bidders.” said Gragg, in whose district the park resides. “I feel disappointed for the contractor that there wasn’t more clarity from members on their denial.”
City Counselor Dayla Bishop Schwartz said the city reserves the right to reject bids for any reason, something companies know when they submit bids.
Council members Eileen Weir and Roxann Thorley said after the meeting that their “No” votes fell along the same line of reasoning as Dougherty. Chris Whiting also voted against the ordinance. Schultz and Mayor Don Reimal joined Gragg with “Yes” votes.
The council did pass an emergency ordinance amending the zoning district map for the property at 1000 S. Crysler Ave. from I-1 (industrial) to C-1 (neighborhood commercial). James and Ronda Cox are purchasing the former building of the Antoine Seed Company, and the rezoning allows the couple to open a retail shop for handmade dolls and doll accessories.
Ronda Cox has been running her business – called “Heavenly Touch Reborn Nursery” – from her house.