Thursday, May 23, 2024

Leavenworth Front Street Park restroom and stairway project faces delay due to high bid

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LEAVENWORTH –  The Front Street Park Restrooms and Stairway Expansion Project, slated to begin construction this spring, may be pushed to next year due to bid challenges. 

The project received one bid, nearly 70 percent greater than the original estimation of probable construction costs. City Council rejected the bid at its Apr. 9 meeting, with the hope that the project would attract more bidders with more time. The rejection risks delaying the project another year and potentially meeting higher costs.

The construction bid opening for Front Street Park Restrooms and Stairway Expansion Project received a sole bid from Cascade Central Construction, LLC, which submitted a $2.03 million bid, versus the city’s estimated $1.2 million. City Council was given the option to accept the high bid, or reject it and reopen the bid.

“I just think that we can do better, I think we deserve to go out and see if we can get a better financial bid on this, because we really only got one…I have some misgivings about them being 70 percent over our estimate,” said City Councilmember Anne Hessburg.

Deputy Public Works Director Andi Zontek-Backstrum attributed the project’s lack of bids to being too large for small contractors and too small for large contractors. A few of those who expressed preliminary interest but did not bid told city staff they were at workload capacity. The accuracy of the original estimation also came into question, but Zontek-Backstrum said there were only a few nuanced differences, not enough to explain the large discrepancy. 

“If we were to wait and rebid it, we would anticipate bidding and having the project delayed about a year, so that at the same time, you have to consider escalation factors and what construction costs will look like then,” said Zontek-Backstrum.

Council members agreed that the price was too high, but appeared split about rejecting the bid. The option to reopen the bid was considered for as late as October or November when construction slowed down.

“It's a gamble. You're gambling that things are going to slow down, so that there will be more availability. What they're saying is, “We're busy. We're not gonna come in low when we’ve got all this work out there. You are rolling dice to say it’s going to cool off,” said Mayor Florea.

City Council voted to reject the bid, with only Councilmember Baron opposed. City staff said they would readvertise and consider reopening the bid in late fall. Zontek-Backstrum said they would also revisit the estimate.

“I'm going to remain optimistic. We’ll advertise this right away and see how we do,” said Public Works Director Tom Wachholder.

The Front Street Park Restrooms and Stairway Expansion Project will switch the locations of the male and female restrooms, add more female stalls and sinks, and add a family and gender-neutral single-stall restroom. The project also includes reconstructing covered concrete stairs between Front St. and Hwy. 2 and covering the area above the restrooms. 

Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or taylor@ward.media

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