The City Council voted on Monday evening to reject the recommendation of staff and Downtown Master Plan Project Manager David Reed to award the bid to Magnum Construction and instead give the project to a long-time contractor for the city, the locally-owned Cherokee Pride Construction.
The alleyway redesign is a catalyst project for the Downtown Master Plan, which is part of the 2020 GO Bond. The redesign will make the alley between Water and Park streets more walkable and pedestrian-friendly, and should eventually encompass that alley from Hobson all the way to Lee street. The first phase of this project is between Hobson and Dewey, and due to be complete before the arrival of the Christmas Chute.
Three contractors bid on the project, with Cherokee Pride coming in lowest at $670,000. The next lowest was Magnum Construction at $815,000 and the highest bid was sent in by Concrete Services Corporation at $991,000.
Three alternate bids were also requested, with design changes that might save the City money. Bidders were asked how much ought to be deducted based on those scenarios. On these, Magnum Construction believed the alternatives would actually add more cost to the project. Concrete Services said Alternates 1 and 3 could be done at the original bid, and Alternate 2 could be done at a deduction of $25,000. Cherokee Pride offered zero deductions.
It was the lack of alternate bids and the tight deadline that led Reed to suggest going with the second-highest bidder Magnum Construction.
“Everyone I talked to who worked with (Cherokee Pride), they all said that he did good work, but had a tough time getting the punch list done,” he said during a conversation with Sapulpa Times on Tuesday afternoon.
The City Council was provided with a copy of the bid award recommendation packet. In it were references from Cherokee Pride that seemed to line up with Reed’s remarks. Notes on their feedback include “positive work experience, quality work, difficulty finishing up the punch list,” and “quality work, minimal change order requests, finishing on time ‘not their strong point.'” None of Cherokee’s references were from Sapulpa.
Harlan Yocham II, President of Cherokee Pride, made his case before the council. “We enjoy working here. You guys are great to work with, I mean, I live here. My kids go to school here, we go to church here. We want to be a part of it,” he said.
Some of the councilors expressed their doubt. Richard Hudson of Ward 4 asked Yocham point blank, “can you get it done?”
“Well, I think you need to understand the whole scope of the project,” he began, adding that the benches and lights would have to be shipped in, and that things like that were out of his control. “The thing we’ve come to a resolution on is that we would have flat work done and pavers in, and have everything else ready for the opening of the Chute,” he said. Exactly what “everything else” means remains unclear.
Yocham brought up his relationship with the city as a positive point, saying it would help them get started quickly. “We could start as early as this week, on figuring things out and get moving even before we have signed contracts,” he said.
Cummins said that he believed the difference in price between Cherokee and Magnum was too great to shrug off. “That’s a big increase, I just don’t know if we can do that and be responsible stewards of the city’s money,” he said.
Not everyone agreed. Henderson said he trusted Reed’s assessment of the project. “We have hired Reed Architecture. We have asked them to manage this Downtown Project. My understanding is that they thoroughly vetted each of these companies for this specific project,” he said.
After much more deliberation, a motion was made to reject Reed’s recommendation and award the bid to Cherokee Pride. Suggs, Molina, Cummins, Mortazavi, Naifeh and Stephens voted yes, while Gunn, Henderson and Hudson voted no. The motion passed, 6-3. Alexander Hamilton was not present.
Reed says that despite the decision, he remains optimistic about the outcome. “If it works out, then it means we have another $145,000 to spend on the next phase,” he said.