By Tim Cox
A new round of bidding will be held for the demolition of the city of Celina's former water plant on Touvelle Street after city officials failed to include necessary language in the original bid documents.
Mercer County Commissioners formally rejected all 12 bids for the work on Thursday, setting the stage for a new round of bidding by contractors. Commissioners are handling the bid process because the city is paying for the work through the state Community Development Block Grant program administered by the county.
Controversy has swirled around the project since commissioners first opened the bids in early December. Several contractors left that meeting upset over the low bid of Chuck Samples General Contracting, Celina, which offered to tear down the building and restore the site for just $9,121. Other bids ranged up to $68,800.
The upset contractors complained that Samples' price was not even enough to cover proper disposal of the demolition debris from the building. The Samples bid does not appear, however, to be at the source of the decision to seek new bids.
A letter from city officials to the contractors who sought the demolition contract was vague about the reason for the decision. "Pursuant to concerns expressed over perceived ambiguity in the bid documents for the above referenced project, the city has determined that the project will be rebid with further clarification," the letter from Safety-Service Director Jeff Hazel says. Hazel invites the contractors to submit a new bid for the project.
Hazel told The Daily Standard the reason for the new round of bidding is because the city did not include information about state prevailing wage laws in the bid documents. Contractors should have been informed that they must pay at least the state's prevailing wage rate if the contract exceeds $20,000.
"We neglected to attach that to the bid documents. We made the error. Now we want to redo it so it is fair and equitable," Hazel said.
But Hazel also admitted there were other discrepancies in how different contractors interpreted the language. One part of the documents said contractors become the owners of the debris when they remove it from the site. Another part of the specifications requires the material to be deposited at an EPA-approved landfill.
Contractors can use some clean debris to fill in the partial basement under the building but the rest must be properly disposed, Hazel said. That language remains in the new bid specifications.
Hazel said nothing appeared to be wrong with Samples bid, and the company was prepared to do the work for the bid price.
"I think he was just being aggressive in his bidding," Hazel said.
The 6,000-square-foot building originally was constructed in 1894 and served for many years as the city's water plant. Demolition bid documents say the building at 439 Touvelle St. has a brick exterior with block backup, wood frame roof trusses, asphalt shingles and lies mostly on a concrete slab.
The building has served many purposes through the years, including as a shooting range for law enforcement officers. It now serves only as a warehouse for the bicycles the city police department accumulates before selling them at auction and a few vehicles that have either been forfeited or are being held as part of investigations.