The green light has been given to construct a new building. But the township may be facing a lawsuit by a rejected bidder as a result.
The Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 Thursday in favor of awarding Gordon H. Baver Inc. the contract to construct the new on the township’s at Newlins and Richmond roads.
Baver's bid was for $4.8 million. The township had estimated the cost at $3.7 million. Baver is based in Pennsburg in the Upper Perkiomen area of Montgomery County.
Voting in favor were supervisors David Billings, C. David Howell and Lilly Gioia. Casting "no" votes were supervisors Erik Chuss and Robert Egolf.
Several board members said rejecting the proposal would mean a loss of about $750,000 already spent.
Chuss, who approved of the , said he was not sure that the $4.8 million would cover all construction costs. Instead, he estimated the building's cost at between $5.5 million and $6 million once it was completed with items not in the bid such as hydraulic lifts, pumps and oil tanks.
“Unless we get a significantly better building it would not be worth it,” said Chuss. “We want a building that’s going to be solid and last.”
Egolf said he is adamantly opposed to the building as proposed and was concerned about the potential additional cost of change orders.
“I have not heard anyone in Forks Township say this is a good move, that we’re doing the right thing -- first in building design, second in the amount of money,” said Egolf. “I think we’d be very wrong to continue on this road.”
All of the supervisors agreed that a new building is essential. Gioia said a new building is long overdue.
“A new building will at least give them [public works employees] a cot where they can sleep,” said Gioia. “I do believe they deserve a locker, a clean place to change their clothes and take a shower. We should not be exposing them to polluted water as we are doing now. It’s something that we desperately need.“
Meanwhile, another bidder, Perrotto Builders Ltd. of Blue Bell (Montgomery County), says it will sue the township if it is not awarded the contract.
During the meeting, it was revealed that attorneys for Perrotto sent a letter stating the township doesn’t have a right to disregard the company’s bid, according to township Solicitor Karl Kline. The letter also stated that in the event the township refused Perrotto’s bid, the company would go forward with filing a lawsuit.
Perrotto presented the lowest bid at an estimated $4.75 million, but did not receive the township’s okay after several pending lawsuits -- including three multimillion-dollar suits -- appeared in a background check performed by Kline. The firm failed to include this information in its proposal, Kline said.
The township asks companies to include a five-year history of lawsuits with their proposals, he said. Reference checks did not come back favorably and the company's financial statements raised serious questions about its ability to perform the job on budget, Kline added.
On Thursday, the township also heard from residents, who have said that while they agree a new building is needed, they object to what they say is the building's extravagant design along with its cost.
“I believe we need to keep it simple, keep it nice,” said resident Dan Martyak. “We don’t need what’s on those current plans and we don’t need to overspend.”
“The public works garage does not have to have a vegetative roof,” said resident Brett Bonafonti. “Simplify it.”
According to township Finance Manager Jim Farley, the vegetative roof will cost an estimated $300,000 and have a 20-year warranty, versus a traditional roof at $100,000. Farley said a “green” roof would pay for itself within a decade by lowering the costs of heating and utilities in the building.