Elizabethtown rejects $1.6 million construction bid for Streetscape project

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN —They say the third time’s the charm, and Elizabethtown is bid-ding on it for its Streetscape project.

The Downtown Streetscape project — phase 2 of the overall revitalization effort — was held on June 28. However, only one bid was received. Since, by North Carolina law, municipalities are required to make a “good faith effort” to secure three bids, they are forbidden from entertaining any fewer than three during the first round of bidding. Having received only one, the bid was returned unopened.

Project engineer W.K. Dickson proceeded to get the project re-advertised, opening the bidding until July 9, the day of the Council meeting. Regardless of how many bids were received, the Town could open them, having met the statutory requirements.

“You are in a position to award the bid this evening,” Elizabethtown Town Manager told the Board Monday night. “However, when we opened the bid, we found the engineer’s estimate to be considerably lower than the (bidding company)’s estimate. When I say ‘considerably’, I mean about $800,000.”

W.K. Dickson estimated the project to cost $1,611,000 and included in that figure approximately $800,000 for construction costs.

Directional Services, Inc. was the sole bidder, proposing $1,613,825 for the construction portion.

“(W.K. Dickson’s) estimate includes all utility costs, engineering fees, the cost of the light poles … so when you add all that with the construction costs, the result is $2.5 million,” Madden told the board.

“That’s huge,” Councilman Ricky Leinwand remarked. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

One attendee quipped, “It does if you’re the only bidder.”

“We didn’t pull that number out of a hat,” Councilwoman Paula Green offered. “The engineering firm helps us arrive at a reasonable number.”

“The first project had water, sewer, storm water, sidewalks, decorative brick, and landscape, and it came in considerably lower than that,” Madden reminded the Board, of Phase I.

Council members agreed to reject the bid and to open the bidding for a third time, stating that other companies expressed interest but did not have time to submit bids. The bidding period will last for 30 days.

In other action, the Board:

— Declared the following property as surplus: 1999 Crown Victoria, 2006 GMC Canyon, 2005 Crown Victoria, 2012 Dodge Charger, 1992 fire engine, 1993 fire tanker.

— Updated its customer service policy to 1) discontinue service with in 10 days upon notification of the death of an account holder, 2) revise the payment schedule to apply late fees after the close of business on the 5th of the month and issue cut-off orders after the close of business on the 16th, 3) change the reconnect fee to $100, 4) change the after-hours water connect fee to $150, and 4) set guidelines for water leaks on the customer’s side of the meter.

— Amended the Airport Taxiway Project by $3,800 to cover the cost of enlarging the skimmer basin, a necessity in order to meet statutory requirements.

The Council agreed to meet again later in the week to entertain a bid for the property on Broad Street which the Town has for sale.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.

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Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal