Masonry bid appeal saves Conte school building project $300K


NORTH ADAMS -- One small mistake nearly cost the city of North Adams $300,000.

Champlain Masonry, of Pittsfield, which submitted the low bid for masonry work to the former Silvio O. Conte Middle School project, had been disqualified by the state attorney general because of a missing signature.

But Champlain's bid of $2.1 million -- the lowest of four -- was reinstated on Thursday following an appeal -- potentially shaving more than 12 percent off the masonry cost of the project.

The city closed the building middle school in 2009 and gained special permission from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to use a K-7, 8-12 concept. The former middle school will replace Sullivan Elementary School, 80 percent of which is reimbursed to the city through the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The project is slated to be completed in fall 2015.

The city's school building committee and mayor were contemplating putting the entire project back out to bid after subcontract bids totaled nearly $1 million, or 8 percent, over the estimated $12.1 million. Bids for general contracting -- the bulk of the work -- will be unveiled on Monday.

The Attorney General's office had ruled earlier this month that because a signature was missing on the bid, the state's statutes wouldn't allow the bid to count. The next highest bid was about $300,000 higher than Champlain's.

Project Manager Ken Guyette called the forgotten signature a "minor deviation" and "technicality."

"The immediate pressure has been greatly reduced," said North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright.

The lower bid allows general contractors to have a better understanding of what they'll be working with on the project, Alcombright said. The mayor called Monday's opening of general contracting bids "critical" to the project.

If the lowest bidding general contractor is close to estimates, Alcombright said, it will be easier for the school building committee to scale back pieces of the renovation to bring it under budget. With the new masonry bid, the total project is now approximately $600,000 costlier than expected.

Alcombright pointed out that during the design process, the school building committee had identified about $700,000 worth of work to be taken out of the project that was later added back into the project.


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