Council rewards donations in park bid
The De Soto City Council passed on the lowest bid and awarded the first construction contract last Thursday for the new Kaw riverfront park to a local contractor.
The contract was awarded to R.L. Duncan of De Soto, who bid the project for nearly $65,000 more than a bid from a Lawrence firm.
The council agreed last month to allow those local contractors who volunteered in the effort to build the boat ramp completed last year at the site of the future park to bid on the brush and debris removal and preliminary earthwork that is the first construction stage of the park's $676,000 first phase. It was estimated local contractors provided $140,000 in volunteer labor and equipment time in construction of the boat ramp.
City engineer Mike Brungardt shared the specifications for the work with three De Soto contractors - R.L. Duncan, D.F. Freeman and Blacktop Paving - as well as R.D. Johnson of Lawrence. When the sealed bids were opened, it was learned R.D. Johnson's bid of $74,900 was by far the lowest. Duncan returned a bid of $139,439, Blacktop Paving a bid of $158,750 and Freeman a bid of $220,000.
Brungardt said the apparent reason Johnson's bid was lower was that the Lawrence company owned a rock crushing machine to deal with the concrete debris at the site and the three local companies didn't.
"I did discuss the bid difference with Duncan," the city engineer said. "A lot of the difference with Duncan is that he would have to rent a rock crush to do that work."
The bids from Duncan and Blacktop Paving were within the estimated project costs, although on the high end, Brungardt said. All four contractors were capable of performing the work, he said.
Councilwoman Betty Cannon, who organized the volunteer effort to build the boat ramp, estimated Duncan had heavy equipment and union employees at the site for three weeks. That was at least $30,000 worth of work, she said.
Despite the difference in the bids, all five council members agreed to award the bid to the lowest local bidder because of the past volunteer work.
"I still say use the local guy, but that's a tremendous difference there," Councilman Ted Morse said.
The Johnson County Commission will consider Jan. 14 the city's application for a $60,000 grant to be applied to the park's first phase. The grant money was collected by the state from sand excavating companies active on the river to help in the rehabilitation of the sites for recreational use. The city's application has the endorsement of the Johnson County Park and Recreation Commission.