Oak Bluffs advised to reboot bid process for North Bluff seawall project

The project to rebuild the seawall and construct a boardwalk is not expected to be significantly delayed.

Grants will pay for a new seawall along the North Bluff. — File photo by Michael Cummo

When Oak Bluffs selectmen unanimously voted on Sept. 22 to accept a $5.25 million bid from MIG Corporation to rebuild the new North Bluff seawall, contingent on additional Community Preservation Committee funding, it appeared that the long awaited project would move ahead. However, due to a bid complaint from Northern Construction Service, Oak Bluffs selectmen, on the advice of town counsel Michael Goldsmith, have called a special meeting this Tuesday to rescind their decision, and to re-bid the project.

“We awarded the bid and then a complaint was filed in regards to the language in the bidding,” chairman of the board of selectmen Mike Santoro told The Times on Friday. “Right away we filed an appeal with the Attorney General for a hearing next Wednesday, but in the process, we found it would be easier to rescind the vote and put it back out to bid again.”

“It’s in our best interest to deal with the ambiguities in the RFP (Request For Proposal) and start with a clean slate,” town administrator Robert Whritenour told The Times. “A bid protest that goes to hearing and then an appeal can take a lot longer than a month.”

At issue is the wording of the RFP which asked for the bid to be broken into sections—the “base bid” was for construction of the steel sheet seawall and boardwalk from the harbor to the fishing pier, along with hazardous waste removal. Addendums to the bid were requested for the cost of continuing the wall and boardwalk to the SSA terminal. Northern Construction did have the lowest bid for the entirety of the project, at $5.9 million.

However, all bids, including MIG’s, came in well over the $5.6 million the town had received in state grants for the project, once management fees and a 5 percent contingency fund was added to the bottom line. So a decision was made to begin with the most crucial part of the project, e.g. the base bid, where MIG Corporation came in lower than Northern Construction by $103,000.

The  $343,000 shortfall that remained on base bid from MIG was reduced to $230,000 after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) made a rather tardy but welcome “first offer” of Hurricane Sandy relief funding for $113,000 late last month.

Once selectmen rescind the bid on Tuesday, the project will go back out to bid, which is a 30 day process. Despite the month long delay, project manager David Lager told The Times that the re-bid would not significantly delay the project.

“I don’t see any reason why we can’t still complete the project on the same timeline,” he said. The bulk of the project is due to be completed by Memorial Day, with a month allocated for punch list items, according to Mr. Lager.

Mr. Whritenour said it is possible that the re-bid process could reduce, and possibly eliminate, the overage that required selectmen to request $230,000 in additional funds from the Community Preservation Committee (CPC), which was approved at last Monday’s CPC meeting. The allocation will have to be approved by town voters at special town meeting on November 17.