LEWISTON — A mistake on bid documents and negotiated price were not enough to derail plans for Simard-Payne Memorial Park improvements, councilors agreed Tuesday night.

The council voted 6-1 to give the job of building riverside improvements and a small amphitheater in the park to J. Pratt Construction of Hebron for $343,265.

The current plan for Simard-Payne Memorial Park is to provide some sort of harder surface at the river’s edge. Plans call for a small stage, facing away from the river, with a simple covering such as an awning or a tent, surrounded by terraced rows of grass, using the site’s natural terrain. The city had set aside $330,000 for that work, but the bids all came in high. The lowest bid came in at $384,000.

City Administrator Ed Barrett said staff negotiated with Pratt, the low bidder, to cut some parts of the plan and councilors used money that had been budgeted for a wheelchair-accessible Marcotte Park playground to make up the difference. Work on the playground has stalled because the city has been unable to get grants and donations to finish that project.

Reed said there were errors in the original amphitheater bid document, which called for planting only 40 plants in the area, not the 489 the city actually wanted. The Finance Committee voted down the bid because of the mistakes.

Councilor Leslie Dubois, a Finance Committee member, said she wanted the project to go out to bid again.


“When it finally came to the Finance Committee, I don’t think — and I still don’t think — a good process was followed,” she said. “A bid went out, it was wrong, it came back and it was reworked to come to what we have before us.”

Barrett said the city regularly works with low bidders to further reduce prices on projects and said the error would not have changed the low bid.

Reed agreed and said it would not be fair to Pratt to go back out to bid.

“It would be a poor way to act,” Reed said. “You cannot accept your low bidder and then say, ‘We’ve sharpened our pencils and worked with you. Now we’ll let everyone work from your numbers.’ That’s a poor way to do business and it will end up with people not bidding on our projects.”


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