Steamboat contractors protest base area bid
Native, Connell file opposition to Duckels’ $4.5 million contract
April 15, 2010
Base area bids
Contractor Initial bid Final bid Change
Connell Resources $7,631,271 $7,253,762 – $377,509
Duckels Construction $7,637,296 $7,177,296 – $460,000
Native Excavating $7,198,668 $7,231,468 + $32,800
Source: City of Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs — Two local contractors have filed a protest of Duckels Construction's $4.5 million contract for work at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.
Native Excavating and Connell Resources filed the protest Tuesday. Both contractors were finalists for the project, which the Steamboat Springs City Council, acting as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority, awarded to Duckels in a 5-1 vote April 6. The contract is for work this year to build part of a public promenade, daylight a section of Burgess Creek and complete associated work at the ski base.
Base area redevelopment coordinator Joe Kracum previously said this year's work could start as soon as Monday. But the protest, in the wake of a city proposal process that raised questions about leaked bid prices, likely will push that date back.
Steamboat Springs City Manager Jon Roberts said action on the protest is on the Tuesday agenda for the City Council, acting as the redevelopment authority. Roberts said City Council members have several options, including rejecting the bid protest and keeping the contract with Duckels; upholding the protest and referring the bids back to the selection committee; or upholding the protest, rejecting all the bids and rebidding the entire project.
Kracum said Thursday that he was working with project designers to assess how to realign the project in the event it is rebid, to give contractors a fair shot at bidding for a new project.
Kracum said "the basic layout" of the base area project would remain intact, but what pieces are done this year could change in a rebidding process.
Kracum said work possibly could begin in June if the project is rebid.
He said even after his 25 years of working on public projects, primarily across Colorado, a bid protest at this point in such a large project is a new experience for him.
"I've never been involved in anything like this," Kracum said. "It's disconcerting."
City Council President Cari Hermacinski voted against awarding the contract to Duckels last week because of "very substantial" differences in Duckels' initial and final proposals, she said. Hermacinski said the rumors of leaked bid prices, and "even the appearance of corruption in the bid process," could raise questions with the public.
It raised questions with Native Excavating, as well.
"There was kind of a long line of things that just weren't right about this scenario for pricing," Native owner Ed MacArthur said. "In the public venue, it's very untypical to see this procedure go the way it went. We just don't want to see this kind of pricing operation going on here."
Connell construction manager Eric Marsh confirmed Connell's participation in the protest but would not comment further.
"We're not going to speak on that behalf until the City Council meeting" Tuesday, Marsh said.
All three finalists — Connell, Duckels and Native — went through a "best and final offer" process, in which finalists presented an initial bid and interviewed separately with the city's selection committee March 18. After conducting the three interviews, the committee gave each finalist until 5 p.m. March 22, to submit a revised proposal.
The selection committee took proposals for the entire project, which would extend into 2011, with the understanding that only a 2010 contract would be awarded at this time and that funding might not be available for next year's work.
Last week, Hermacinski said in Centennial Hall that her suspicions were raised because Duckels' bid change was much greater than Native's or Connell's. But initial bid figures Roberts released Thursday show that Connell lowered its bid by nearly $380,000, a figure relatively close to Duckels' $460,000 reduction in its final bid. Native raised its initial bid about $32,000 for its final offer.
Native's final bid was about $7.23 million, Connell's was about $7.25 million, and Duckels' was about $7.18 million.
Fred Duckels and Derick Duckles have said Duckels Construction did not, in any way, lower its final bid because of knowledge of leaked initial bids.
Duckels Construction has conducted three years of previous work on base area redevelopment projects.