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Fayette commissioners toss out bids for jail

| Friday, Oct. 12, 2001

On the advice of their architect, Fayette County commissioners on Thursday rejected all bids for construction of a minimum-security prison building.

Architect Michael Molnar told the commissioners his estimates of construction costs had been done before the site had been thoroughly studied. He said the foundation and a large retaining wall had increased his initial estimates.

'Bids came in quite a bit higher,' Molnar said. 'Therefore, I recommend the commissioners reject all bids for general construction.'

Molnar then gave the commissioners a plan to rebid the project that would not throw it too far behind schedule.

'Because this problem was my fault, I will redo all plans free of charge,' Molnar said. 'I'm certain they will be much closer to the original cost.'

Molnar said he could have plans ready for readvertising on Sunday, with specifications available on Monday.

'The way I have it scheduled, we could open bids on Oct. 30,' he said.

All three commissioners expressed concern for the timetable of the project.

'We have about 35 prisoners in other counties at about $35 per day for each,' said Commissioner Vince Vicites. 'Surely in this case, time is money.'

Molnar said he expects to be able to reduce the original bid by about $200,000.

One item he cited that could be eliminated was a building-wide emergency generator to be used in case of a power failure.

'That's about $35,000,' he said. 'You can have emergency lighting, but you don't need it all over.'

After Molnar left the meeting, Commissioner Ron Nehls took exception to the change.

'I'm not sure we shouldn't have that generator in there,' he said. 'We can't afford to delay this project any more. We have to move this forward.'

Commissioner Vicites said bids will be accepted and opened on Oct. 30 and a special meeting called soon afterward to act on the bids.

In other business, the commissioners:

  • Approved the purchase of two X-ray scanners for use in the courthouse and public safety building at a cost of $20,649 each. 'I think this is the prudent thing to do in the times we live in,' Commissioner Sean Cavanagh said.

  • Hired William Piper as a county consultant to assist the commissioners in administration of the 12-year-transportation program at a rate of $60 per hour. Piper had 30 years of experience with PennDOT. Vicites had been against placing the item on the agenda but said that after the meeting with Piper he was very much in favor of him. 'It wasn't the man, but the manner in which it was presented,' he said.

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