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Two Harbors Council rejects Burlington Bay Campground bathhouse bids

The Two Harbors City Council has rejected all four bids received for the east bathhouse in the Burlington Bay Campground due to significant differences between the budgeted costs and the bid estimates.

The existing facility was severely damaged in a fire in October 2017 due to significant mold buildup. The project was designed by CR-Building Performance Specialists of Isabella and was budgeted for $250,000-$300,000.

Four bids were received from various contractors and the lowest bid came to a grand total estimate of $541,544.

"So it's significantly different than the bid that we got from the budget that we'd like to have," said Joe Rhein, the city engineer contracted through Bolton and Menk, during the council meeting Monday, Feb. 11.

Rhein said the architects on the project reached out to the contractors who submitted bids and asked about changes that could be made to reduce costs. Some changes included changing window material, ceiling material, modifying the awnings and changing trusses.

With these minor changes, there could be a savings of about $55,000-$75,000, which would still put the project at about $470,000-490,000 — $200,000-$300,000 over the budgeted amount.

The last bathhouse built by the city, near the RV campground and Two Harbors Area Chamber of Commerce, was originally budgeted for $400,000. When bids were submitted in March 2016, the lowest came in at $868,600.

Rhein presented the council with options on how to proceed: Reject the bids and re-advertise at a later time for new bids; increase the budget for the project or make reductions to the project to fit the budget; or accept the lowest bid and immediately negotiate a change order for the project to try to reduce the price with some of the saving options previously identified.

"It seems like the best option would be to reject the bids and regroup and think about how we approach the project," Rhein said. "It's also worth noting that the public works staff said that the building as is can function and get through the 2019 season, so it's not like your back is against the wall and you have to do something right now."

City Administrator Dan Walker advocated for rejecting the bids, regrouping and deciding how to proceed.

"Just looking at the bids, I think the reality is that if we want a building that's going to stand the test of time and do what we need to do, it's a little bit more expensive than we'd thought," Walker said. "My recommendation is to reject these bids and talk through it and figure out a more long range strategy. We have other facilities at the campground that will need to be replaced in five to 10 years, so it's worth it to take our time and figure out a plan."

City Councilor Craig Jussila also argued against the bids.

"The bids are too high for right now," Jussila said. "I think we have to do some more homework and find other ways. There are buildings built all the time for less money. It's double what we were thinking. I know we want to do something nice, but there's got to be some way to do this for less."

The council voted unanimously to reject the bids and to regroup before moving forward with a definite plan for the bathhouse.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle. 

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