Friday, May 25, 2001

Flaws may sink local ballpark bid

Indy firm could get contract instead

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Construction managers at Great American Ball Park want to give a $4 million contract to an out-of-town firm, even though a local company submitted a bid that was $225,000 less.

        The reason: technicalities in the bid submitted by Waltek Co. Ltd., a Cincinnati firm that has successfully completed work on Fort Washington Way and Paul Brown Stadium.

        A special meeting of the Hamilton County Commission will be held today to decide who gets the contract for glass and glazing, metal wall panels and curtain wall.

        Waltek officials admit there were “minor” problems with the bid, including:

        • They did not submit a plan outlining how small businesses would be used in the project.

        • They did not write out the bid amount as mandated.

        • There was a mathematical error in the bid.

        But the error did not give them a competitive advantage — meaning they would have had the low bid without the error — according to attorney John McCoy.

        Also, Waltek is a certified small business.

        “The binding bid amount is clear and we stand behind it,” Mr. McCoy said. “You can save $200,000, deal with a local firm that is a certified small business. We think those are important issues in this community.”

        Project manager Arnie Rosenberg of Parsons Brinckerhoff recommended against giving the bid to Waltek and said it should go to ASI Limited, an Indianapolis firm.

        He said the “irregularities” in Waltek's bid should disqualify the firm.

        But Parsons Brinckerhoff's Roy Mendelsohn, construction manager on the Fort Washington Way project, wrote a letter of recommendation for Waltek on May 23.

        “We would consider Waltek & Company an acceptable, capable and competent contractor for future work based upon our experience with them,” the letter says.

        Commissioner Todd Portune refused to vote on awarding the contract to ASI during Wednesday's regular commission meeting, after lawyers for the county talked to commissioners about the issue in private briefings. Commissioner Tom Neyer was prepared to vote in favor of giving the contract to ASI.

        It is necessary to award the contract soon, construction managers said, so the project doesn't fall behind schedule. But when asked why the contract wasn't discussed at Monday's public staff meeting, attorney Tom Gabelman said they couldn't get it on the agenda — despite the issue being discussed for the past three weeks.

        A vote is expected today.


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