Time pressure off, Clewiston seeks new P.D. building bids

CLEWISTON — The Clewiston City Commission has rejected all bids received on remodeling the bank branch building it bought on Berner Road for a new city police headquarters, opting instead to re-bid the project yet again.

Commissioners learned at their meeting Monday night, April 2, that the state money the Legislature had approved to finance it now is being considered a state capital outlay, making the previous hard-and-fast June 30, 2018, grant deadline moot.

The city had advertised for bids in March and they were opened on Thursday, March 29. Two were received, from MJ Simpson Corp. in the amount of $679,395 (total base bid) and from DEC Contracting Group for $1,060,099.

City Manager Al Perry reported: “DEC has bid every time we’ve gone out so far. They were the high bidder, at almost $1.1 million. The MJ Simpson Corp., their bid was $679,000. Both these bids currently come in over our budget, what we have, which is unfortunate. One of the contractors was in the room for the opening of the bid, one of the gentlemen from DEC. That was the only person here, and he said the reason for your low turnout, he felt, was because of the time restraints; they had 90 days to complete the work.

“But since then, the chief (Police Chief Aaron Angell) has found out that the state has lifted our restrictions on time, so … we can set it for six months, whatever we feel is comfortable, so our recommendation tonight is going to be to reject all bids and go back and see if we can get a better turnout.”

Mr. Perry said that redoing the building’s roof was included in the base bid this time but that staff wants to make it the first alternate “and see what we can get in” as new bids are sought. Mr. Perry said the “conflicting roof prices” in the bids were over $100,000 apart between the two: one was $200,000-plus and one was about $58,000.

Commissioner Kristine Petersen asked whether Chief Angell had anything in writing from the state guaranteeing the extra time for completion. The chief said he’d talked with state bureaucrats and that “they’ve assured me … that’s because it’s now in the category of a fixed capital outlay, there is the possibility to go back … and let the governor know we need that extension.” He said he was told “there would be no reason why it would not be granted” and that the action was specifically taken to ensure that the city had enough time to get the project complete.

“To me the bottom line is that we have a set amount … for this project, and these bids are over budget and we don’t have the funds to award (the contract),” said Mayor Mali Gardner. She added that the details would have to be worked out because “I see that we have a tenant in the room right now” who she was sure would have questions. Seacoast Bank, which formerly owned the building, now is leasing some space from the city and had been scheduled to vacate the building quite soon, under the old timeline.

The city manager confirmed the mayor was correct. Chief Angell said he would need to apply to the governor’s office for the extension around late April or early May, which should be right about the time that new bids are opened “so we can give them an estimated completion date.” In the meantime, the project may be tweaked a bit more.

City Commissioner Julio Rodriguez expressed concerns. “I know that the roof seems to be a big ticket, but I don’t want to get away from it, I want to make sure that it’ll be an alternate in there to see if we can get more of a fair price. We thought it was going to be in the $100,000 range and it came in over $200,000.”

Commissioner Phillip Roland said, “Well, $58,000 is probably a pretty good price.” Mr. Parker responded, “Talking to Commissioner Atkinson (Michael Atkinson, who’s a roofer), he thought $60,000 to $70,000 or in there was a good range (for this job).” Mr. Atkinson said, “We’re doing roofs or $400 and $500 a square (foot). That one’s about 65 square (65,000 square feet) … so the numbers don’t … it’s crazy. There’s just no way.”

Mr. Rodriguez summed up: “Now that we’ve got a picture of how much it’s going to be to remodel, Al, I’d ask for you and the chief and the architect to get together and see if maybe there’s some things in there that we can tweak, because we know that the budget, the numbers are going to be tight. There may be some things that we can do without right now so we can go ahead and start operating in that building.”

In other actions, the commission:

• Appointed Janet E. Way, a retired teacher, to a vacancy on the seven-member Clewiston Library Advisory Board. She will serve a seveny-year term to fill the seat left by the resignation of Beverly Dierks.

• OK’d an event application from David King of Fort Pierce for the Chow Down Food Trucks event April 26 at Sugar Fest Field. The gathering will run from 5 to 9 p.m. on that Thursday night, where there will be eight to 12 food trucks and possibly live music and a bounce house as well.

The Clewiston News is published every Thursday.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.