By Lisa Loomis
The good news is that bids for Waitsfield's municipal water construction project came in $1.3 million under budget. And there is no bad news unless it is the fact that the town will now have to determine how to utilize the extra $1.3 million in grant/loan money to offset user fees or extend the service area of the project.
Members of the Waitsfield Select Board will meet with project engineers at a special meeting on September 9 at 6 p.m. at the Waitsfield Town Offices to discuss the project bids and hear engineer's recommendations regarding the project.
Town officials opened the sealed bids on September 2. The town sought bids on seven separate contracts for the water project and received dozens of bids from local, in-state and out-of-state companies for the work. While Waitsfield itself has a weighted system of awarding contracts that takes into account a variety of factors - including location of the business and environmental practices - this project requires that the town select the lowest bidder because the project utilizes state and federal funding.
Town Administrator Valerie Capels said that because of the rules surrounding the federal and state monies that are going towards the $7.6 million project, the town does not have the option of borrowing less than the original projected costs - leaving the town with a budget surplus of $1.3 million on the project.
She said that the board, at the September 9 meeting, would discuss whether the budget surplus could be used to offset user connection costs, or possibly to extend a water line on Carroll Road or Farr Lane or Parsonage Lane or some other road within the service area of the project.
The project will supply water to Waitsfield Village and Irasville as well as Tremblay Road and Old County Road. The project has been in the works for over a decade and comes to fruition after three votes. The project will be paid for by $4.5 million in federal grants, connection fees, and a $3.014 million loan.
The project will use water from a well drilled in the town's right of way off the Class IV Reed Road. The water will be piped to a storage tank near the former LeClair gravel pit and from there be piped via a distribution system to the service areas.
The contracts that the board will discuss at this week's meeting are for the distribution system, a transmission main to the storage tank, the storage tank, the transmission main to the well, the well house, meters and abandoning existing wells.
The contract for water distribution in the service area received six bids. The highest was $2,441,091 (Markowski Excavating, Florence, VT) and the lowest was $1,440,472 (J.P. Picard, Barton, VT).
The bid for constructing the pipeline from the service area to the tank received eight bids. Munson Earth Moving, Williston, VT, was the low bidder at $1,178,560. The highest bidder for this part of the project was Markowski Excavating, Florence, VT, at $1,861,150.
Two bidders bid for the contract to build the water storage tank. The Natgun Corporation of Wakefield, MA, was the low bidder at $640,420. A Hauppauge, New York, company - Preload, Inc. - bid $646,900 for that project.
Kingsbury Construction, Waitsfield, was the low bidder on the contract to build the water main from the tank to the well house with a bid of $397,972. The high bidder was Markowski Excavating, Florence, VT, with a bid of $830,082.
The low bid on building the well house came from NECCO, a Waitsfield company that bid $276,708. Kingsbury Construction bid $280,640 on that project.
Work on the project will get underway as soon as contracts are awarded and final engineering is completed. The town is also working through a legal challenge to the easements it took by eminent domain on two parcels of land adjacent to the town well. The town took a wellhead protection easement on a 0.42-acre parcel and a 0.46-acre parcel, one owned by Virginia Houston and the other by Jean Damon. Those property owners were paid $7,500 for the easements, twice the appraised values, and both are challenging that action in court.