LOWVILLE — Construction projects took a step forward after bid winners were announced during a special meeting of the Lewis County Board of Legislators Thursday evening.
Although there was concern that bids might be out of the $19.3 million range budgeted for the Facilities Improvement Project because of supply chain-related inflation in building material prices over the past year, all of the bids received were within the budget range.
The project, which has been discussed in various forms for about 15 years, will see the construction of a new Highway Department building with multiple outposts and a complete gutting and renovation of the county offices on Outer Stowe Street where the Department of Social Services, Department of Community Services and Office for the Aging are housed.
“The contractors we chose are all reputable firms and have done good business,” said County Manager Ryan M. Piche in an interview after the meeting. “Two of the firms are from Lewis County, which we’re particularly excited about. So far, everything is going along in a good way. I feel good about it and I think the legislators were happy to approve a project that came in under budget so far, something they’ve been considering for a long time.”
All five bids accepted via a board resolution were the lowest in their contract group, and four of the five are from the north country with one company based in Central New York.
Bette & Cring LLC, Watertown, won the general construction contract with a $10,889,000 bid.
ENI Mechanical Inc., Gouverneur, had the lowest mechanical contract bid of $1,948,000.
Tmachanical Inc., Glenfield, won the plumbing contract with a $450,000 bid.
S.C. Spencer Electric Inc., Constableville, was tapped for the electrical contract with a bid of $2,120,000.
Associated Fire Protection Corp., Syracuse, won the fire protection bid for the two buildings with a $492,840 bid.
The total cost of the project based on the five awarded contracts will be about $15,909,840.
The call for bids went out Feb. 10 and the bid opening took place on Feb. 16, with multiple offerings in each category except for the fire protection contract.
The highest bid in the general construction category was $12,642,000, making the spread between the highest and lowest bids about $1.75 million.
Mr. Piche said he believes the bids came in so low in part because by sending out the bids for both sites — the highway garage and the human services departments — “companies will be able to keep their crews consistently busy but also they can pull the crew off for other jobs while the subs are doing some work, so, it’s just consistent good work.”
“I think that (engineers) C&S and KT, our construction managers, put together a good packet and made it attractive for all the bidders that put forward numbers,” he added.
In addition to designing the new buildings and their interiors for the project, C&S Engineers, Syracuse, was also tasked with meeting with the departments that will be housed in either of the new buildings to discuss interior design choices, from furniture and fixtures to the equipment needed before sending out a request for proposals.
Four bids were received for that contract, following the state “contract pricing list” that ensures prices aren’t escalated. C&S recommended ROI Office Interior, Rome, be selected with a bid of $402,000 and that a “total anticipated budget” of $550,000 be approved to leave room for additional items that may be identified through the process.
During their March meeting on Tuesday, legislators will vote on the final bond amount, Mr. Piche said, based on the bid amounts. He, however, will be encouraging to keep the bond at $20 million considering there is still work to be done on the County Court House building on North State Street, which also houses county offices, and because the final bids have not yet been accepted for the county Health System’s $32 million capital project.
“We’ve already proven we can pay for it (the $20 million bond) without a tax increase … and there’s still things we need to do with the physical plant,” Mr. Piche said.
The board also gave final approval to buy the former Glenfield Elementary School building from the New Jersey-based LasComp Institute of IT, for $315,000 to house the human services departments while the Lowville site is transformed.
Mr. Piche said the building is in “decent” shape — “it just needs a little TLC, but nothing major,” he said.
Construction will begin first on the Highway Department structures at 7600 N. State St. in April and at the 5274 Outer Stowe St. building late this summer.
All construction is expected to be completed by September 2023.