Ramsey approves second Sunwood contract

After two lengthy discussions that spanned two council meetings, the Ramsey City Council awarded WSB & Associates the construction services contract on the Sunwood Drive re-alignment road project.

The council voted 4-3 July 10 in favor of the contract to WSB for engineering, construction staking and record plans.

Councilmembers Colin McGlone and Jeff Wise as well as Mayor Bob Ramsey voted against the contract.

Only two companies bid on the project, WSB & Associates and Landform, which the council originally discussed June 26.

Both companies had already provided design work for the Sunwood Drive/Armstrong Boulevard project under previous contracts.

WSB worked on the Armstrong design and Landform performed the Sunwood Drive design.

WSB & Associates’ original bid was $176,228, but that was for engineering, construction staking and record plans as well as construction administration and inspection. Landform’s bid was $235,100. Both bids were based on an hourly rate.

Landform revised its bid July 10 to increase the record plans segment from $6,400 to $11,100 because it did not include the Armstrong Boulevard portion of the Sunwood re-alignment project, said Interim City Engineer Ron Wagner.

While the bids originally included inspections and construction administration, the city removed those from the project because they will be handled in-house, said City Administrator Kurt Ulrich.

“Approximately $70,000 has been budgeted project administration and inspection,” Wagner said.

Removing the inspection portion of the contract makes the contract bids similar, he said.

For just the construction staking, project engineering and record plans, the Landform bid comes to about $73,000, using an hourly estimate, and WSB bid comes to $77,732, which is a not-to-exceed amount, he said.

During the June 26 discussion on the contracts, the council wrestled over whether or not the city was required to give the contract to Landform.

According to Landform President Darrin Lazan, the company’s COR contract with the city Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) requires the city to give his company these types of contracts.

The contract, which made Lazan the city’s COR management director, included several conditions for engineering, landscape and other projects in the COR from the city and from incoming development.

City Attorney Bill Goodrich said July 10 the contract is with the HRA and it does not obligate the council to award Landform city projects. It only applies to HRA projects.

Based on Goodrich’s opinion, staff recommended WSB’s not-to-exceed bid.

During the July 10 meeting, the council tackled the price difference, whether Landform had an unfair advantage because it was able to change its bid after seeing the WSB bid when it was discussed by the council June 26 and a decision was tabled, whether the two companies charge for drive time to the project site and whether Landform should have been allowed to come to the podium to discuss the bids.

WBS Engineer Tony Heppelmann also came to the podium after Lazan’s comments and stated that Landform was allow to give additional information but WSB was not asked to submit revisions.

With the set price, WSB will be roughly $2,000 cheaper, said Councilmember Randy Backous.

Mayor Bob Ramsey disagreed and said the way he calculates it, Landform will be $3,000 cheaper.

The council never received information that shows Landform was cheaper, said Councilmember Sarah Strommen.

But WSB has guaranteed not to go above the amount, which Landform has not, Councilmember Jason Tossey said.

“I know some (on the council that) would like to vote (Lazan) into this deal, but it has to go through the proper channels,” Councilmember David Elvig said.

Lazan was able to look at the other contract and change his numbers to be slightly lower than WSB, he said.

Landform’s bid was re-configured after the city decided to do the administration and inspections in-house and Landform was not asked to submit a maximum cost, Lazan said.

Wise said he does not understand what all the arguing is about.

“We have always voted for the lowest responsible bidder,” he said.

Ramsey said he is against the contract for several reasons, including the fact that city staff will be doing the project administration and inspections.

Voting for this will mean spending about $4,000 more than it would have with Landform, he said.

The contract approval also awarded a project engineering budget of $15,000 to Landform “to assist in the interpretation of the Sunwood Drive plans and specifications,” according to the case background.

Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]