Wilbur & McMahon renovation contractors asked to rebid

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LITTLE COMPTON — In a push to bring bids for the Wilbur & McMahon School renovation project down to within budget, the school building committee went back last Friday to the four bidding contractors to ask them for their "best and final offer" in their bids for the work.

The rebids are due  October 9, and are to be based on a list of cost-reducing items the building committee voted be removed from the project.

If the rebids aren't favorable, there were  indications at the building committee meeting that the schools might have to return to the town for more money.

Called a "value engineering list," the removable items are the result of consultations the week before between building committee and school officials and the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) as to what might be trimmed from the $11.3 million project the voters approved last spring.

After the consultations, said School Committee Chairman Donald Gomez (who is also on the building committee), the "list" had 40-50 items on it. In a paring back exercise, the school building committee then voted last Wednesday to remove certain items from the list that was ultimately handed to the contractors Friday.

When the exercise was completed, "not a significant number of key items" were omitted from the project, Mr. Gomez said. "We have not impacted safety, health, or code issues."

There may be a long way to go to bring project costs down. Of the four renovation project bids, the lowest was from ADS Construction, for $10,260,000. That’s $600,075 over the budgeted amount of $9,659,925 that Town Council President and school building committee member Robert Mushen said is available for the project.

The other three bids were even higher:  $11.3 million by E.W. Burman, Inc., $11.9 million by Agostini Construction Co., and $12.3 million bid by H. V. Collins Company — $2.6 million over the budget.

Mr. Gomez estimated the cost reductions accomplished by "value engineering" at $458,688. He said that RIDE has also increased its percentage of reimbursements for energy upgrades, hazardous materials abatement, and disabilities act enhancements, for an estimated increase in reimbursements of $125,840. That's roughly $584,528, he said,  which is not far from the $600,000 by which the lowest bid is over budget.

"We're not significant dollars from getting the job done," Mr. Gomez said. "We do have a seven percent contingency."

Mr. Gomez addressed the "what if" question, if the rebids don't bring cost to within the budget.

"There was an indication at the meeting that we may need to go back to the town," he said, "but we don't have the numbers yet. But the flavor was coming through, of going back, that if we gotta do it, we gotta do it. I've not heard that before."

"I'm pushing to get this project moving," he said. The longer we delay, the greater the chances things can change with the legislature and so on. The town's a wealthy town and they damn well better support this project. We're talking about amounts of money the town has."

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