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Commissioners: District botched bid requests
“Maybe it’s because of the economy, who knows,” said Shelter Island Fire Commissioners chairman Andy Steinmuller, speculating why the district was overwhelmed by requests for bid packages. One unfortunate result of the flood of requests was not having enough packages prepared for all who wanted to bid on recent fire district projects.
Bids were awarded at the February 25 commissioner’s meeting to two companies on two projects, but not before Mr. Steinmuller made a point of telling his colleagues that packages need to be made up and ready for future bidding.
Those who wanted to bid on replacement and installation of new fire well hookups for the Long Island Power Authority got only a schematic drawing that was used by East Hampton in July 1999. Also included was a non-collusion certification sheet agreeing that bids would be arrived at independently of other bidders or potential competitors. But the packages lacked the full terms of the project that typically set terms for dates of completion and other stipulations important to ensuring the work is properly completed.
Commissioner Larry Lechmanski, who has handled many bids in the past when he served as chairman, told the Reporter after the meeting that typically full packages include such terms and information
“We’ve been giving the same packet out for seven or eight years,” with just changes to the specifications to meet the particular project, Mr. Lechmanski said.
Mr. Steinmuller said Shelter Island typically gets only one or two bids on most projects, but that wasn’t the case this time, perhaps because so many contractors are hungry for work.
“We didn’t know these many bids were going out,” he said. “We should have packages made up” in advance, he said, vowing that would be the case in the future.
Ultimately, commissioners accepted a bid on fire well pump hookups from Dickerson Electric Company of $1,450 per unit for units with generators and $3,500 per unit for units with electric and generator combinations.
A second bid was awarded to Peder Larsen for $15,900 to install a 12,000 gallon fire protection water storage tank. Again, there were several bidders on this project with prices as high as $75,000 plus an additional $4,500 to complete site work that involves spreading dirt over the area. That bid came from Gem Star Construction of Staten Island.
‘Apples to apples’
Also at the February meeting 25, Fire Chief John D’Amato wanted to know if a $1,000 or less cost quoted by consultant Steve Hampson to ensure compliance with federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements is comparable to an estimate that John Costa Associates of North Carolina offered for what could be as much as $10,000. “Are we comparing apples to apples?” the chief asked.
The chief was going to compare what Mr. Hampson was offering the district with the specifications of what Mr. Costa said he would offer to be certain it would meet the fire department’s needs.
Mr. Costa visited Shelter Island to assess the situation and estimated it would cost $10,000 or more to bring the department into compliance, including training of all department members. Commissioners delayed a decision on how to proceed until their March 25 meeting to give the chief time to compare Mr. Hampson’s and Mr. Costa’s bids.
Commissioners also delayed a decision on a new chief’s vehicle to compare a bid from a dealer on the South Fork while they explored the possibility of a comparable car at $10,000 or $12,000 less from an East Rochester, New York dealer. Commissioners will check to ensure both vehicles are comparably equipped and offer the same reliability.
“We’re just getting too much pressure from the outside,” Mr. Lechmanski said about spending. At the same time, he expressed hesitation about purchasing a vehicle upstate rather than from an East End dealer.