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City Hall bid comes in at $2.5 million

By Sarah Crutchfield, The News Reporter

An Asheboro firm is the apparent low bidder to replace the Whiteville City Hall, but still came in slightly higher than officials hoped.

Smith and Allen LLC of Asheboro beat out five other firms with a bid of $2.486 million. The bids were opened Tuesday afternoon at the interim City Hall, and presented to the City Council Tuesday at their regular meeting.

There was a wide range in the bidding, City Manager Darren Currie said.  The highest bid was $3.3 million from Kevin K. Jacobs, followed by $2.746 million from Group III Management. Three of the bids – from Player, Inc., Bordeaux, and Construction Systems – came in at just over $2.5 million. 

The city had hoped for a bid of $2.1 million for the building itself, but Currie said Wednesday there is some “flexibility” built in that can be used for cost savings.

“We came in around $237 per square foot, and we budgeted for $200,” he said. “We can work around that and come in close to budget. We have a contingency fund in the building budget just in case something like this came up, and there are a few others places we can adjust.”

Among the features that can be reworked or possibly cut are a standing seam metal roof, the Webster Street parking lot for the police department, and a generator to power City Hall during emergencies. The metal roof and generator were additional on the Smith and Allen bid, with estimates of $66,000 and $75,000, respectively.

Currie said city staff will review the bids again before the next meeting, and likely present Smith and Allen as the proposed winning bid. The city hopes to have construction completed on the new building by early next year.

In other business, Fire Chief David Yergeau approached the board with a request to spend the almost $500 the city received from a Walmart Community Grant Award for smoke detectors.  Yergeau said that the department has many residents, particularly the elderly, who come by the station inquiring about smoke detectors.  Councilwoman Sara Thompson asked if Yergeau knew the number of smoke detectors the money would buy. Yergeau estimated they are $10 to $12 each. Leder made the motion to approve the request, and Tim Collier seconded the motion.

In other action, Currie proposed accepting donated cameras and equipment from Gaither Martin.  Currie stated, “Chief (Jeff) Rosier wanted to use some of that equipment in some of his community outreach for the police department.”  The council approved the request.  

Public Works Director Travis Faulk also briefed the council on the possibility of a sealed auction for surplus city vehicles and equipment.  He stated that most vehicles are sold for parts, all sales are final and the city can refuse any offer.  

Councilman Justin Smith asked why the city uses a sealed bid system. 

 “It is the way we have done it in the past and it is the simplest way you can do it,” Faulk replied.

Councilman Jimmy Clarida motioned to accept and Robert Leder seconded the motion.  The board accepted the resolution.

During the board and staff comments section of the meeting, Thompson asked about uneven driving surface on Mill Street in front of Anthony’s restaurant. The area has been a common source of complaints for years.

“It is actually the storm drain this time,” Faulk said.  Faulk also brought up the pavement issues on Calhoun Street and said that the city has someone lined up to do those jobs,  “but due to the weather and this time of year, the asphalt plants are closed.”  Once the weather warms up, the work will resume, he said.

Smith was concerned about an item he saw in the December departmental reports referring to the 911 dispatch center misreporting fire department response and turnout times.  “As a new council member, it is concerning to read that,” Smith said. 

 “We have no control over 911 and Emergency Services,” said Hal Lowder, Safety and Risk Mangement Officer. “We have no voice on their communications committee.”   

The city is also trying to implement a medical first responder system through the fire department to assist Whiteville Rescue, which provides EMS services for the city and surrounding county. Lowder said the city has been working for four years to begin first responding to major medical calls in the city but has run up against resistance with Columbus County Emergency Management.

Currie told council he is working with the county to have better lines of communication, and is scheduled to meet with County Manager Mike Stephens today (Thursday) to resolve the problems.  

 

Stuart Rogers