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Mount Greylock to Extend Bid Period for Fields Project

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Talia Cappadona, a student representative on the Phase 2 Subcommittee, and Chair John Skavlem participate in Monday's meeting.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The subcommittee looking at addressing the athletic field needs at Mount Greylock Regional School decided to extend the bidding period in hopes that one or more of the three bidders can come back with a lower bottom line.
The district's Phase 2 subcommittee met Monday evening for the first time since Friday's opening of bids responding to the district's search for a contractor to install an artificial turf multipurpose playing field and make improvements to other fields to bring the district into line with Title IX and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The district's architect, Art Eddy of Traverse Landscape Architects, advised three possible courses of action based on the bids, all of which came in higher than the architect's estimate for the project.
The subcommittee decided that extending the bid period for up to a week is the best way to keep the project moving forward at a price that will be acceptable to the School Committee.
The subcommittee, which includes three members of the seven-person School Committee, decided to reply to the three bidders with a list of "value engineering" items that could be removed from the original scope of work and ask them to resubmit bids on the project.
The three bids came in between $2.85 million and $2.98 million -- about 40 percent higher than the $2.1 million cap set by the School Committee when it authorized putting the project out to bid in May.
At that time, the School Committee intentionally capped the set a limit of $2.1 million for the project even though it had an estimated price tag of $2.3 million from Traverse, Phase 2 Subcommittee Chairman John Skavlem said after Monday's meeting. The intention was to allow the district some flexibility when the bids came in.
Using the $2.3 million, all three bids received came in between 19 percent and 22 percent over the architect's estimate.
Skavlem told his fellow subcommittee members that the architect believed the contractors should be able to revise their bid prices down.
"Art said they're already talking about it," Skavlem said. "They have the summary sheet that shows what everyone else bid, and they know where they landed compared to the others."
And, significantly, all three contractors now know the areas of the project where there was differentiation in their bids.
Although they all arrived at about the same bottom line, there were significant differences on several line items.
Most glaring is improvements to the school's deficient softball field. Mountain View Landscapes priced that part of the project at $743,000. Clark Construction listed it at $380,000, and RAD Sports came in at $260,000 -- in line with the Traverse estimate.
On the other hand, RAD quoted a price of $520,000 for athletic field lighting, much more than the $403,000 quoted by Mount View or the $380,000 quoted by Clark.
Of the three contractors, only Mountain View came in with a number to match Traverse Architects' projection for the biggest piece of the project: the new synthetic turf field and associated drainage. Mountain View quoted a price of $1.05 million for that piece of the project. Clark came in at $1.33 million, and RAD was at the high end at $1.53 million -- 31 percent over the architect's projection.
Several of the subcommittee members expressed concern that by extending the bidding process, the district could be "kicking the can down the road."
Eddy had advised the subcommittee of two other options at the district's disposal: rejecting all three bids and rebidding the process at a later date or accepting one bid and negotiating a lower bid with the accepted contractor.
The former path would have required at least another month before a contract could be secured -- likely pushing the start of work to the spring -- and would have required value engineering before reissuing the project.
The latter -- accepting one of the contracts -- would have allowed the district to work with one company to bring its bottom line down by up to the 20 percent allowed by law, Eddy wrote in a memo to the subcommittee.
It was not lost on the members of the subcommittee that all three bids came in about 20 percent above the architect's estimated $2.3 million price tag.
No one on the subcommittee pushed for recommending that the School Committee -- which ultimately awards the bid -- go the route of accepting a bid and then trying to bring it down.
"You're asking a bit of a leap of faith," Skavlem said. "You'd have to accept the bid as received and then negotiate."
"There'd be room for negotiation … but we'd be legally obligated to the full amount," Dan Caplinger agreed. "It would be a matter of good will."
Skavlem, who communicated with Eddy prior to the meeting, expressed confidence that the district could extend the bidding process and get new numbers back from contractors in as little as a week. That is too late to have a recommendation ready for Thursday's special meeting of the School Committee, but still in time to potentially have the field completed by some time this spring.
"Art's reason to recommend [extending the bid] is the contractors are already looking at this," Skavlem said. "They want work for the fall, and fall started today."

Tags: MGRS,   playing fields,   

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Williamstown to Try Outdoor Dining on Spring Street Again Saturday

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Despite the vagaries of Mother Nature and the voices of those who raised concerns about the plan, the town plans to temporarily close Spring Street to vehicles the next two Saturday evenings to allow outdoor dining.
The initiative to help downtown restaurants that do not otherwise have outdoor space to set up tables was first tried on June 27.
Although the weather did not entirely cooperate that night, people who did have a chance to take advantage of the opportunity reacted positively on social media.
Organizers also got positive reactions, according to Jane Patton, the chair of the town's Select Board and vice president of the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce.
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