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Park construction work approved

By Leesha Faulkner

THE SELMA TIMES-JOURNAL

SELMA — Work could begin soon on the Selma Riverfront Park.

The Selma City Council recently approved a series of contracts for construction, engineers and to move utilities.

“The next step is for [the Alabama Department of Transportation] to approve the contracts,” said Charlotte Griffeth, director of the city Planning and Development Department.

Goodwyn, Mills and Caywood Engineers will perform construction engineering and inspection services for the project. A draft of the agreement says the firm will perform the necessary engineering work for a maximum of $41,000, unless a substantial change in made in the plans or the scope of work.

Northwest Building Supply & Equipment Rental Inc. received the construction contract for a total bid of $261,871.

The contract came with some controversy.

Northwest was not the low bidder on the project. Smitherman Brothers Construction Inc. of Selma was the low bidder at $253,480.

Griffeth said Smitherman Brothers Construction had three mathematical errors in its submission, but would have remained the lowest bidder. The construction company also did not complete information on a signature page and did not submit the entire bid documents book.

None of the eight bidders completed and submitted an ALDOT form required by federal law to ensure firms owned and controlled by minorities, women and other socially and economically disadvantaged persons have the opportunity to compete on an equal basis with non-disadvantaged businesses for contracts and subcontracts.

In a letter to Griffeth attached to the bid contract Blair Perry of Gresham, Smith and Partners of Birmingham, the project engineers, said Smitherman Brothers Construction and three other bidders failed to submit the entire bid documents book with their bid.

“I conferred with ALDOT, and they advised that they do not consider this a minor bid irregularity, and, therefore this irregularity cannot be waived by the city,” Perry wrote in the March 2 letter. “ALDOT advised that the four bidders who did not submit the entire bid documents book with their bids were to be considered non-responsive and cannot be considered for determining the low bid.”

Perry said ALDOT said the city cannot bypass the low bid contractor, which after the elimination of Smitherman Brothers Construction is Northwest.

Perry’s letter indicates he and Griffeth had discussed the issue: either accept the bid of Northwest or re-advertise the project and start all over again.

The second option would cost more for the city in costs to re-advertise and engineering fees. The difference between Smitherman Brothers Construction and Northwest is $8,390.

“The city could spend in excess of half of this amount to re-bid this project, again, entirely with city funds,” Perry wrote. “As a comparison, the city’s 20 percent match on the difference in the two low bids is $1,678. Therefore, strictly from a monetary standpoint, it would be less expensive for the city to award the project to Northwest Building Supply, even though their bid was higher than the lowest (non-responsive) bid submitted.”

Selma Council member Cecil Williamson of Ward 1 voted against awarding the bid to Northwest. “The bottom line is ALDOT wants to give this project to a construction company out of Hamilton, instead of a local company,” he said. “I don’t agree with that.”