Attorney lets stand board contract vote

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NEW GLOUCESTER – On Monday, selectmen grappled with legal issues surrounding a board vote to negotiate with the low bidder for the new central fire station on Route 100.

A 2-1 vote by selectmen July 9 will stand, according to an opinion from the town’s attorney, reversing the board’s interpretation that the motion failed because only three of the five members voted.

Attorney Rob Crawford of Bernstein, Shurr of Portland wrote that because there was a legal quorum for the meeting and the majority acted, the vote is legal.

Selectmen Steve Libby and Lenora Conger voted to have the Fire Station Committee negotiate with Bunker and Savage Architects and Zachau Construction to cap construction at $2 million. The submitted bid was $1.7 million. Selectmen’s Chairman David Lunt voted against the motion, and Selectmen Dale Maschino and Wayne Cobb were absent.

Town Manager Rosemary Kulow said based on the attorney’s opinion, the vote is binding.

If construction items listed in a memo provided to the board by the committee cannot be addressed, the committee should report back to selectmen. The $2 million does not include any related financing costs, contingencies or construction clerk costs.

Four proposals were selected by the Fire Station Committee as finalists.

Maschino, a Fire Station Committee member, read a statement describing the strict Request for Proposal specification procedures.

“I’m disappointed in the last-minute demands and requests. If the concerns for the low bidder were there, this should have been mentioned before.”

He said at no time was the committee influenced to do local contracting, and at no time was the committee given the authority to give a $2 million cap. And, Maschino had a long list of missing items from the Savage and Zachau proposal.

The Fire Station Committee ranked Lewiston-based Smith Reuter Lull Architects, Taylor Engineering, H.E. Callahan Construction of Auburn and Bennett Engineering as the preferred design/build team at a cost of $2.4 million.

Norm Chamberlain, principal in Taylor Engineering and a resident of New Gloucester, attended Monday’s meeting. He said after the meeting that his firm and others were left out of further negotiations.

“The worst thing is the full board is not allowed to vote on the issue,” Chamberlain said.

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