Low bidder for Jackson Square project hikes bid, loses contract
A deeper dive may be needed for a Jackson Square project that's already gone out two times for bids, City Manager Rachael Tabelski says.
She had recommended Monday that City Council vote to rescind a bid from Mark Cerrone Inc. due to the company’s last-minute revision of its original low bid of $654,000. After all, bids were received and council agreed to award Cerrone with a contract, the Niagara Falls-based company hiked its bid up to $847,950.
That move didn’t exactly seem kosher to Council President Eugene Jankowski.
“Is that even legal,” he said, addressing City Attorney George Van Nest. “We certainly have a lot of concerns with the communication that took place … there was some back and forth between the architects and the city, and contractor. At this point, we have a new contract. I’m just trying to get educated here for the future. It almost appeared that once they brought out their bids, then they mysteriously appear to be just under the next bid. Once someone bids, that’s it.”
Van Nest agreed.
“In general, I’d say that’s accurate,” he said. “There are some other nuances with this. Just to be clear, you’re not rejecting Mark Cerrone Inc’s bid; you’re rescinding that bid and rejecting the other two bids.”
Council agreed to move the item to the business meeting that would follow. The council later unanimously voted to rescind Mark Cerrone Inc’s bid due to "failing to honor" the original bid of $654,000 and reject the other two from Scott Lawn Yard, with a bid of $870,000, and Whitney East with a $1,002,800 bid.
An architect had originally recommended that council approve a contract award to Mark Cerrone Inc. for construction enhancement of Jackson Square. That bid would have included an alternative plan that would add about $31,000 for a total bid of $685,500.
However, once the city agreed, the contractor “refused to proceed with the project as bid, claiming significant mistakes and the need to adjust the contract price,” according to Director of Public Works Brett Frank.
The Batavian reached out to Senior Project Manager Jeff Salvatore of Mark Cerrone, Inc. earlier Monday for comment about the revised bid and council’s impending decision to rescind it. Salvatore offered “no comment.”
The project is to be primarily funded with a $750,000 Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant, plus $225,000 from National Grid, Tabelski said.
“When we go out for bid, they look at the scope of work, and they put a price to that with the materials and the labor … so it necessarily doesn't always line up with the budget we have,” she said to The Batavian. “So we will be re-examining our bid specifications to make sure we think that pricing can come in within that.”
She was hopeful that a contractor with an acceptable bid can be approved within the “next few months.” That leaves the door still open for a construction start date this fall or winter, she said.
“But we do want to take a deeper dive at the design of it. Because this is the second time it's been bid out,” she said. “So yeah, we have some review work to do internally. Construction projects can certainly start in the fall. But again, we'll have to analyze when; it could technically happen in 2022.”
Illustration: File photo. One of the architectural renderings for the proposed redesign of Jackson Square.