Port Moves Ahead With Constructing New Admin Building

By Tristan Hiegler, March 26, 2013, Port Townsend Leader

After a series of legal actions, the construction of a new Port of Port Townsend administrative hub is moving forward.

The port opened bids for its administrative offices building on March 7. Though Clallam County-based Primo Construction was the nominal lowest bidder, Port Townsend contractor Grant Steel Buildings and Concrete Systems appealed awarding Primo the contract, arguing Primo had not included requested information in its bid.

Primo had a base bid of $822,984. Grant Steel’s base bid was $839,989.

Jefferson County Superior Court Judge Keith Harper ruled in favor of the port on March 22, after Primo filed for a temporary restraining order to keep the port from signing the contract with Grant Steel.

“In my view, Primo missed the boat by not providing that information when it was due,” Harper said in court last Friday.

Bright and early Tuesday morning, Grant Steel President Mark Grant and his demolition subcontractor, Leavitt Trucking and Excavating, were demolishing the Marine Exchange building in the Port Townsend Boat Haven. The site of the former marine goods store is going to host a two-story, 4,000-square-foot steel office building.

“I think the decision was the right decision based on the laws of the state. The RCWs are pretty clear on what makes a contract responsive and responsible,” Grant said at the demolition site.

New building

Varco-Pruden Buildings Inc. is fabricating the administration building at a California site. Grant said it is scheduled to ship on six flatbed trucks June 6 and arrive in Port Townsend on June 10. He said he was confident he could meet the port’s Sept. 1 final deadline.

“We have the demolition permit and we’re told we’ll have the final building permit ready for us April 1,” Mark said.

Larry Crockett, port executive director, said the new building is going to be the home of the port’s administrative, clerical and accounting staff and have two conference rooms. He said some planned features include radiant floor heating, solar panels on the roof and a rain garden by the stormwater drain.

“It’s going to be built as environmentally sound as we can,” Crockett said. “It’s going to be a minimal building.”

The port is moving out of its current Point Hudson offices to make way for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to move in by early September. Crockett said the WDFW is locating a new field office in Point Hudson, bringing more jobs to the area.

The WSU Jefferson County Extension moved into the Point Hudson Cupola House on March 11 and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office moved into the Point Hudson administrative offices in early 2013, Crockett said.

“It makes a nice campus down there with all those agencies,” he added.

Crockett said the new building gets the port’s central hub back to the Boat Haven, “where all the activity is.”

Legal proceedings

The legal battle for the contract began after the port supported the protest filed by Grant during its March 13 regular meeting, and rejected Primo’s appeal during a March 15 special meeting. After that meeting, Primo filed for a temporary restraining order March 19 to keep the Port from awarding the contract to Grant Steel.

Appearing before Harper on March 22, Primo’s attorney Adam Lasky argued the port erred in supporting Grant’s protest. He said the major objections against his client, that a project delivery date and five years of experience on similar projects were not included, are false.

Lasky argued Primo’s motion for an injunction to keep the Port from signing any contracts with Grant Steel.

Attorney Carolyn Lake, representing the port, argued Primo failed to provide a verifiable delivery date and didn’t provide enough proof of experience with steel buildings. She said between March 13 and March 15, Primo had an opportunity to do that.

“They had the opportunity to fill in any gaps at that time, and they failed to do so,” Lake said in court.

Harper ruled the temporary restraining order against the port remains in effect until noon, March 25, in response to a request from Lasky for more time to file an appeal. Harper also denied a motion for an injunction.

Crockett confirmed he signed the contract with Grant at around 12:01 p.m. on March 25.

“It was such a distractor, it was consuming all my own personal time,” Crockett said of the case. “I still look forward to working with Primo in the future on other projects, and they’re certainly invited to bid.”

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