— CUMBERLAND — Allegany County commissioners have made two moves to improve the marketability of the Barton Business Park.
Commissioners approved a bid by Belt Construction to build a 40,000square-foot industrial shell building at the park. The project will cost $3,517,990 and will be paid out of the county’s revolving building fund.
The bid was considered during the county commission business meeting on Thursday.
Because of the nature of the project, the bidding process was handled a bit differently to offer flexibility for the county, especially considering possible changes in the project during design and construction, said Matthew Diaz, the county’s Economic and Community Development director. Diaz said even though the low bid was not accepted, the county could make up some of the difference by asking for credits if some items were removed from the project.
Gary Imes, owner of Frostburg’s Lashley Construction, wasn’t happy with the bidding process. He said his bid, about $500,000 lower, did not win the project. Lashley’s bid was for $3,040,000.
“Why are we spending $500,000 more? That doesn’t seem fair to me,” Imes said at the meeting. “I’ve never seen anything like this ... small business and the taxpayers are the losers.”
The idea of credits after the award of a project wasn’t typical, Imes said, and credits would be very hard to evaluate. Typically, the low bidder gets the job and if additions are made they’re negotiated, he said.
“Nothing makes sense to me about this process,” Imes said.
Imes said he wasn’t bashing other firms but the process, which he said did not conform to the regulations for competitive bidding since the bid was not awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. Imes was also concerned with how the bids were narrowed down from nine to three, then the bid was awarded after further meetings between the firms and county officials. County Attorney Bill Rudd said during the meeting that the process was handled legally.