Bids in for new town hall
In his oral report to the Town Council Tuesday night, Town Administrator Bruce Keiser announced that three eligible construction companies had submitted bids to build the new town hall on Narragansett Avenue.
The bidders were ADS Construction of Cranston, J.D. Edwards of Portsmouth, and Pezzucco Construction of Providence. "All three bidders came in under four million," Keiser said. "However, that is still above the $3,000,000 budgeted for the project.
"Pezzucco was the lowest bidder, and I believe that we can negotiate and rethink a few items in the bid to bring it down to a workable figure," he said.
Keiser also said that he felt comfortable with Pezzucco as the contractor of choice. When Councilman Bill Kelly asked if architect William Burgin, who designed the proposed building, had worked with Pezzucco, Keiser said that Burgin had talked to other architects and contractors who had worked with Pezzucco and received positive feedback.
"Besides checking with the architect I also followed up on several references," Keiser said. "All references proved favorable, and contractors that had worked with Pezzucco gave them strong recommendations," he added.
Kelly also asked if the construction company had any municipal building experience, and Keiser assured him and the other council members that Pezzucco had. "The recently built Narragansett Town Library is just one example of their municipal building experience," Keiser noted.
To address the issue of the bids being over the $3,000,000 voters approved for the project, Keiser suggested " that the council "look to the community for private fund-raising through Friends of the Jamestown Town Hall for assistance."
Keiser said, "The community has always been generous in the past and supported projects that are meaningful to the town." He added that he saw no reason why the town would not be supportive of a project as important as the new town hall.
"We'd liked to be out of the existing Town Hall by September so we can get the construction started," Keiser said. He suggested holding a special Town Council meeting to discuss fundraising as soon as possible. "I think we should establish a committee to form a citizen-led effort," the town administrator said.
In an unrelated matter in his report, Keiser told the council that he has been working with Town Recreation Director Matt Bolles to find an appropriate facility for a teen center. He said that they had found two possible locations that could be available in the very near future, but he did not want to reveal the details until he had presented them to the Planning Commission. He assured the council that both facilities were conveniently located so transportation would not be a problem. They were also reasonably priced, and in areas appropriate for teen activities, he said.
He also mentioned that grant money was available from the Rhode Island Foundation and Newport County Community fund. However, to secure funding it was important for an adequate number of teens to participate in the programs and activities offered by the center. Councilor Barbara Szepatowski said that a core group of 15 to 20 teens were eager to participate as soon as a facility opened. She also said that those teens would attract many more once things got started.
Kaiser said that participation software is available from The Rhode Island Foundation that has the capabilities of tracking participation and involvement in programs and activities. He also said that the software could track the level of participation on a group as well as an individual basis.