Mistake in bidding process causes delay in downtown canopy removal
photo by: Nick Krug
A mistake made in the bidding process means a one-block canopy in downtown Lawrence will not be removed this summer as planned.
Brandon McGuire, assistant to the city manager, said that the contractor selected for the approximately $350,000 project was getting ready to begin when city staff realized the proper authorizations had not been provided for the contract.
More specifically, McGuire said that because the city did not end up using the design-bid-build method, where the lowest-bidder is awarded the contract, the city should have gotten authorization from the City Commission. He said that the city originally did solicit sealed bids for the project, but when no bids were received the city put out a request for proposals instead. He said when reviewing the proposal process for an unrelated project that was using a similar alternative method, the city realized the contract for the canopy project did not get the corresponding authorization.
“We weren’t thinking of it in the right way,” McGuire said. “It was good intentions and we didn’t execute it the right way. So what we need to do next is go back and get that authorization from the City Commission and then go through that process where we solicit proposals again.”
The project includes sidewalk and storm sewer rehabilitation and removal of the canopy in the alley west of the 800 block of Massachusetts Street. The mistake was noted in a city manager’s report, which was provided to the Lawrence City Commission as part of its most recent meeting. The report states that the city determined that the process for reviewing bids was not completed correctly and that as a result the project has been canceled. The report states that the project must be re-bid in coming months.
In February, the Lawrence City Commission adopted a charter ordinance that allows the city to use methods that deviate from the sealed-bid procedure for construction projects. The ordinance states that the commission may authorize an alternative project delivery method “upon a finding by the Governing Body that such alternative project delivery method is in the public interest.”
The commission approved issuing bonds to fund the project in December. In May, as part of its consent agenda, the commission approved awarding the project to BA Green Construction in the amount of $348,975. The bid from BA Green was the only bid included in the memo, which notes that after funding was approved, two attempts to bid and contract the work “failed to produce desirable outcomes.” The memo states that the city received bids for a third time, on April 24, and only one response was received, from BA Green.
When preparations for the project began earlier this year, some of the businesses in the 800 block of Massachusetts said that the canopy benefited businesses and downtown visitors by providing protection from sun and rain and that they did not want to see it go. Originally, the city planned to replace the approximately 50-year-old canopy, but Structures Manager Jason Stowe previously told the Journal-World that the city found that the canopy needed to be taken down to make the sidewalk and storm sewer repairs and that to reconstruct it would cost $1.3 million.
McGuire said that a request to use something other than the typical design-bid-build method would probably go to the commission within the next couple of months and that the project would not begin until spring of next year. However, he said that issues with safety and storm water did necessitate that it be done.
“That canopy is a safety concern,” McGuire said. “And also one of the factors driving the need for the project was the fact that multiple facades along those buildings are attached to that canopy in such a way that it’s causing a storm water intrusion into some of those properties.”
photo by: Nick Krug