Bids exceed estimate for Allentown waste water treatment project

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ALLENTOWN – The four companies that submitted bids to construct new waste water treatment infrastructure in Allentown all proposed undertaking the job at a cost significantly higher than the borough engineer’s estimate for the work.

The bids were opened in the municipal building on Aug. 2, according to Mayor Greg Westfall.

During a Allentown Borough Council meeting on Aug. 5, Westfall, council President Thomas Fritts, Councilman Rob Schmitt and Councilman Michael Drennan passed a resolution authorizing Borough Engineer Carmela Roberts to negotiate the cost of the work with the companies that submitted the bids.

Westfall, Fritts, Schmitt and Drennan also passed a resolution, which states, that if the borough attorney determines the resolution authorizing Roberts to negotiate with the project bidders is determined to be illegal because it does not follow the Local Public Contracts Law, then Roberts may reject all four bids and rebid the project using the same scope of the project.

Councilwoman Angela Anthony, Councilman John A. Elder III and Councilman Robert Strovinsky were absent from the Aug. 5 council meeting.

Westfall, who does not regularly vote on agenda items, said he voted on the two resolutions so there would be a majority – four of seven members of the governing body.

The council is scheduled to have its next meeting at 7 p.m. on Aug. 20 at Borough Hall.

According to documents provided by municipal officials, the borough engineer’s estimate for the new waste water treatment infrastructure was $3.283 million.

The companies that submitted bids on Aug. 2 were:

• Pact Two LLC, Ringoes, $4.915 million;

• Quad Construction Company, Lumberton, $5.067 million;

• Eagle Construction Services Inc., Burlington, $5.069 million;

• Clyde N. Lattimer and Son, Berlin, $6.884 million.

Regarding the amount of the bids that were received, Westfall said, “I think we are hopeful we can negotiate with the companies that bid on the project to come in with a price that is a little more acceptable to the governing body. We are waiting for our attorney to determine if we may negotiate. If not, we may have to re-bid the project.”

During a presentation to the mayor and Borough Council on June 11, Roberts said more than a dozen entities picked up plans and specifications for the project when they became available.

“Your treatment plant is in quite bad condition at the moment,” Roberts said that evening. “There is good interest (from potential bidders). We are projecting to receive bids (Aug. 2). That would put you (Borough Council) in a position to award a contract by mid-August. We think we could have a notice to proceed on Oct. 1. We are close to the dates you were hoping to have.”

Westfall said this week he is not certain the governing body can keep to that timetable now.

Roberts said the construction of the new waste water treatment infrastructure, once work begins, could take 16 months.

Roberts’ firm designed the plans for the new facility, which will replace Allentown’s aging waste water treatment plant on Breza Road. The new treatment facility will be built at the same location.

During her presentation, Roberts described the treatment process for waste water, including ultraviolet disinfection. After waste water that enters the plant has been treated, the resulting clean water will be discharged into Doctors Creek in Allentown.