By Bill Kirk
---- — Bids for the new youth center came in last week, but the low bidder may try to pull out of the process and the second-lowest bid may be too high, according to town officials.
Five bids were opened early last week, with the low bid coming in at $4.3 million from G&R Construction of Quincy.
However, Thomas Watkins, the town purchasing agent, said G&R president Robert Morel claims a clerical error resulted in an erroneous cost estimate.
“The bid is $400,000 lower than it should have been,” Watkins said, reading an email he received from Morel last week. He said Morel met with members of the Youth Center Building Committee and has gone back to his company to see if there is any way he can trim other costs to meet his original bid.
“We asked him to go back and look at the numbers to see if he can make up the difference,” Watkins said. “They are a great company. We’d like to work with them.”
Morel had until the middle of this week to tell town officials whether he was going to go forward or withdraw. If he withdraws, he may be forced to fork over 5 percent of the bid price, or about $220,000, Wadkins said.
All of the contractors bidding on the project were required to post a bond that could be forfeited if they pulled out within 30 days of making their original bid.
The second-lowest bid, at $4.6 million, meanwhile, could eat into the 10 percent contingency allotted for the $5.4 million project, according to members of the town Finance Committee.
At a Finance Committee meeting last week, Paul Fortier, the committee’s liaison to the Andover Youth Foundation, said the $4.6 million bid, which came from Dagel Electrical Construction Corp. of Melrose, may require using some of the 10 percent contingency budgeted for the project.
“There is an initiative to change the contingency from 10 percent to something lower than that,” he said at the meeting.
Youth Center Building Committee Chairman Chris Huntress said even with the second-highest bid, “we will still have substantial contingency and we will still be able to move forward.”
He said the 10 percent contingency is part of the agreement between the Andover Youth Foundation and the Board of Selectmen.
Selectman Paul Salafia said he has been told that “if the bids come in too high, and they have to come up with additional money, they have the resources to do it.”
“They have other avenues so the project will move forward,” Salafia said. “I’m not at all worried.”
The other bidders were Seaver Construction of Woburn, at $4.75 million; Stutman Contracting of Oxford, at $5.1 million; and Delulis Brothers of Lynn, at $5.4 million.
In addition to the base bids, there are add-alternates, as they are called, for additional items in the project, including $18,000 for gym screens/curtains, $44,000 for gym wall panels, $24,000 for gym bleachers, $153,000 for a kitchen fit-out, $840,000 for a build-out of the multipurpose room and $36,000 for a rooftop screen.