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Supervisors: Don’t reveal estimates of projects until bids received

by Larry S. Chowning

Supervisor Fred Crittenden told Middlesex School Board chairman Richard Shores Tuesday that the press should not be given estimated prices of construction jobs before the bidding process has taken place.

Crittenden was upset with the fact that a July 10 Southside Sentinel article titled “Runoff could be costly” revealed the estimated cost of fixing run-off problems at Middlesex Elementary School (MES) and St. Clare Walker Middle School (SCW). School officials released the figure in July.

Officials from Progress Engineers, P.C., an engineering firm hired by the county, estimated that the cost of keeping water runoff from damaging adjacent property includes an estimated $26,000 for improvements to the middle school septic tank, $29,500 toward alleviating storm water runoff at MES, and $67,000 for peak flow attenuation at MES.

By releasing these figures to the press, Crittenden said school officials might be encouraging contractors to seek a higher bid.

Board chairman Kenneth W. Williams said no one who has talked with him expects the cost of fixing the problem to be so high, not even the landowner.

At the July 8 supervisors meeting, county administrator Charles Culley said concerns surfaced when an adjacent property owner to Middlesex Elementary complained that excessive runoff from the school property was damaging his property. Culley said he took an extensive tour of the adjacent property and agreed with the property owner.

Crittenden complained at Tuesday’s meeting that Middlesex County’s track record with architects and engineers was not good. “We have paid out an awful lot of money over the years for bad advice,” said Crittenden.

Williams agreed. He indicated that architects for the courthouse, St. Clare Walker Middle School and, most recently, for the Middlesex High School roof all made miscalculations that cost the county money.

Several supervisors said the county should hire a contractor and take his advice and eliminate the architect. Culley, however, warned that if the contractor gave bad advice, the county would have to correct the problem again in a few years.

“We are having to do that now with architects,” noted Williams.

posted 08.07.2008

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