By Charlie Bermant, March 18, 2013, Peninsula Daily News
A construction company submitting the low bid for a contract that was awarded to another vendor has until Tuesday to appeal that decision, if it chooses to do so.
An appeal could derail the port’s goal to move into a new building by Sept. 1, according to the deputy port director.
Primo Construction of Sequim was the apparent low bidder on a contract to construct a new administration building for the Port of Port Townsend.
After staff said that the Primo bid was “non-responsive,” commissioners awarded the contract to Grant Steel Buildings and Concrete Systems of Port Townsend at a special meeting Friday.
Primo had bid $822,984 to build the 4,000-square-foot structure at the Boat Haven, while Grant bid $839,989, a difference of $17,005.
“We are disappointed that the port would go this route, especially since public money was involved,” said Korey Smith, a superintendent for Primo Construction.
“They have a responsibility to do what’s right, and we disagree that our bid was unresponsive,” Smith said.
Port commissioners “made the right decision,” said Mark Grant, who owns the company that won the bid.
“They made sure that it was based on an apples-to-apples comparison.”
Representatives of both companies were on hand when the bid award was announced.
Smith said he did not know whether Primo would file a legal challenge but that the decision would be made by company management.
Primo has until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to file a challenge in Jefferson County Superior Court.
If it does not do so, the contract with Grant will be signed for construction to begin.
If Primo files a challenge, the court case could take several months and derail the port’s goal to move into a new building by Sept. 1, Deputy Port Director Jim Pivarnik said.
Port staff members said Primo’s bid was designated as “non-responsive.”
They said it had failed to include a delivery date for the pre-engineered metal building as part of the bid and did not show five years of experience with metal buildings.
After the bids were opened, and Primo was announced as the apparent low-bidder, Grant acquired copies of all the bids through a Freedom of Information request.
Grant pointed out the two non-responsive items to Port Director Larry Crockett, who said those issues already had emerged during his internal review.
The proposed building is to be located on the site of the Marine Exchange building, which is to be demolished.
The port offices now are located at 375 Hudson St., at Point Hudson.
Officials plan to lease the current 5,000-square foot space to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, with the lease scheduled to begin Sept. 1.
“We’ve wanted to move to the Boat Haven for some time,” Pivarnik said. “It brings us closer to our core business.”
On Friday, Pivarnik said that if a legal challenge develops, it could force the port into a short-term lease at another facility.
The new two-story building will be 1,000 square feet smaller than the current port office, but the work space will be about the same because of the size of the hallways, Pivarnik said.
Crockett said that bid disputes aren’t rare.
“This happens a lot,” he said. “It’s just business, and it’s nothing personal.”
Grant said that if the situation was reversed, he might have done the same thing as Primo.
“I have a lot of subcontractors depending on this job,” he said.
“So if it was the other way around, I would seriously consider filing an appeal.”