Bidder for Pott County’s law center may have to withdraw

By The Mercury

The apparent low bidder on the Pottawatomie County Justice Center said he would have to withdraw his bid if the county commission decides to include the first of three alternates in the project.

Gene Murray of Murray & Sons Construction said a miscalculation was made in pricing the first alternate of the project — installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system.

If the Topeka firm is forced to withdraw its bid for the facility, the next apparent low bidder (including the geothermal alternate) is KBS Constructors of Topeka.

Murray & Sons was one of 13 firms to submit bids on the Pott County Justice Center; bids which were opened on Jan. 17, in a special meeting of the commission.

Dan Rowe of Treanor Architects reviewed the bids with county commissioners Monday, and recommended the Murray & Sons bid if the county decides against including the geothermal system in the project.

If the geothermal alternate is included, Rowe recommended the KBS bid.

“I think to do otherwise would raise questions that are not necessary,” Rowe told commissioners, advising against attempting to revise bids for the geothermal alternate.

At the advice of County Counselor John Watt, commissioners entered executive session for 45 minutes to discuss the issue, as well as other legal matters regarding what he said was the bid bond for the project.

Commissioners took no action following the executive session, but asked Murray to respond by Tuesday of this week if he intends to change a sub-contractor as submitted on his bid documents.

“If there is a legitimate reason to remove one, they’d like to know that,” Rowe told Murray.

Murray’s apparent low base bid was $10,697,700, with a high bid of $13,100,000 submitted by Lloyd Builders of Ottawa. The engineer’s estimate for construction of the 63,000-square-foot facility was $12.2 million.

“There was more bid spread than I would have liked to have seen. We like to see our bids tighter,” Rowe said Monday, citing an apparent late flurry of submissions from sub-contractors as the reason for the wide variance in the bids.

Commissioners did not indicate when they would take action on bids for the justice center, but their current timeline includes issuing a “notice to proceed” on the project sometime in April.

“We’re going to discuss this some more,” Commission Chairman Gary Yenzer told construction company representatives at Monday’s meeting. “We’ve got a lot of questions.”

The justice center, to be constructed just north of the courthouse at Westmoreland, would consolidate all county law enforcement functions into a single building — jail, sheriff’s office, courtrooms, county attorney and district court offices.

The project would be completed in two phases — actual construction of the facility as the first phase, and demolition of the current jail and completion of a campus drive as the second.

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