Three Madison aldermen want the city to rebid the Central Public Library reconstruction, not because of the threat of a lawsuit, but because, they say, it’s the right thing to do.
“I would certainly hope that none of my colleagues would make a decision based on threats,” said Alderman Mark Clear.
Clear said the Common Council should accept City Attorney Mike May’s recommendation to rebid the library project. May has said the city incorrectly set a requirement that bidders reach, or show they have tried to reach, a 20 percent hiring threshold for disadvantaged business enterprises.
The council will consider the rebid request Tuesday.
“There isn’t a perfect solution because you can’t rewind the clock,” Clear said. “And I don’t think it’s fair to just take that out of the equation and evaluate the bids again.”
When the city opened bids Dec. 9, Janesville-based J.P. Cullen & Sons Inc.’s bid of $18,829,326 was the lowest of five companies. But after city employees decided Cullen didn’t meet the DBE requirement, the project went to Madison-based J.H. Findorff & Son Inc., which had the second-lowest bid at $18,875,000.
Cullen representatives contacted the city and threatened a lawsuit because the DBE requirement couldnít be included because there is no federal money that will be used for the project.
Findorff President Rich Lynch last week said he hoped it wouldn’t get to the point of a lawsuit from his company if the city takes the project away and rebids it.
Lynch didn’t immediately return calls Thursday afternoon.
But the city shouldn’t face a lawsuit if the project goes to a rebid, said Alderman Larry Palm, who supports a rebid. He said the city would be vulnerable to a lawsuit from Cullen over the DBE requirement.
“Let’s be honest here,” Palm said. “We clearly say in all our documents that we have the right to pull out of anything we want.”
The library construction was scheduled to start in February, but a rebid would push the date back to at least late March, May has said.
Still, rebidding the project puts the city in the best position to get the job done, said Alderman Scott Resnick.
“The end goal,” he said, “is to build a library for the city of Madison.”