In the initial agreement, the city would not allow the project manager to perform any construction work
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — The construction manager for the Everett Roehl Marshfield Public Library project, Boson Company Inc., may be allowed to bid on a certain aspect of the project, a situation the city had hoped to avoid. The city previously stated in its request for proposals that it would not allow Boson to self-perform any work on the library and that the company would only serve as an overseer of the project.
The Board of Public Works approved allowing Boson to bid, but the common council will have the ultimate say at next Tuesday’s meeting.
As the bidding process has evolved — competitive bids are currently set to open for the third time — the city found the need to lump several small projects into a broad category officials call “building works” in an effort to attract bids.
“It’s some smaller stuff — right down to even caulking and some of those smaller project details — brought under one heading, and the hope was to get some bid on it,” City Administrator Steve Barg said.
In the second round of bidding, the city received just a single bid on building works, and Barg said, “There was at least some question as to whether or not it was the kind of quality bid that we would like to see,” referring to the fact that having just one bid made it difficult to know if the bid was truly competitive.
Mayor Chris Meyer said that one bid was “in the $300,000 range.”
In response the Board of Public Works voted to let Boson bid on the project for fear that in this third round of bidding, the building works category could potentially receive no interest or no truly competitive bids. Barg said Boson would still have to go through the competitive bidding process in which they submit their bid in a sealed envelope to the city and would have no advance knowledge of any other bidders’ offers.
Board of Public Works member and Alderman Ed Wagner expressed reservations about allowing Boson to bid.
“I’m very uncomfortable with this. I understand what you’re doing. I’m just extremely uncomfortable with that process,” Wagner said, adding that he had doubts that this would truly be a competitive bidding process if Boson knows there may be no bids or the same single bid that came in last time for building works.
“It’s not really a competitive bid. If he’s the only one bidding, it doesn’t matter whether he puts it in a sealed envelope or not,” Wagner added.
“I’ve had the same concerns. It is competitive though because (Boson) doesn’t know if somebody else is going to bid and if they do what their bid will be,” Meyer said. “My concern is that we won’t get a bid, and now we don’t have anybody to do those last finish pieces of the project, and we’re going to be rebidding it again until we do.”
Wagner did ultimately vote in favor of allowing Boson to bid on the project as did the rest of the board.
Barg added that it is not breaking any statute or city code to allow Boson to bid. It is simply a self-imposed rule that the city established for the project. State statute does require that, “All public construction, the estimated cost of which exceeds $25,000, shall be let by contract to the lowest responsible bidder.” This means that if Boson does bid and comes in at the lowest price, they would be awarded the building works contract.