Kenilworth, News

Bid confusion delays survey work on Kenilworth’s beachfront project

It pays to double check your numbers if you want to win the job, as bidders on one Kenilworth project learned earlier this month. 

Kenilworth Village Manager Patrick Brennan told village trustees on Monday, July 17, that when he reviewed nine bids submitted for a survey service job — part of Kenilworth’s planned water plant and beach improvement project — he spotted a difference of more than $26,500 between the nine offers the village received. 

The two lowest bids for survey work on the project were $8,750 and $9,750 respectively, he said in his report at the Village Board meeting. The numbers contrasted markedly with the top bid of more than $34,000. 

“That really caught me by surprise,” he said, adding that such big spreads in project offers usually happen because the bid specifications were unclear, the company’s numbers were off or the bidder missed part of the project requirements.   

It prompted him to check with the low bidders and ask if they could check their offers against the project specifications.

“I’ve had additional conversations with the surveyors and it turns out that some of them only bid on one and not on all three” sets of project specifications, he told trustees. 

That sent both companies back to the drawing board, so Brennan asked the board to wait for his final recommendation on the project.

“My two lowest bids (now) may no longer turn out to be the lowest bids,” he said, adding that he expects to get corrected offers from the low-balling companies next week, after which he can make a final decision. 

Brennan can execute contract agreements without Village Board approval when the contracts cost $20,000 or less, which he expects will be the case with the survey project; however, because that work is part of Kenilworth’s larger water plant and beach improvement plans, he wanted board approval to make the final decision.

When Trustee Walter Kelly asked why the highest bids hovered at more than $30,000, Brennan said those offers came from larger firms, which he said historically bid higher on projects. Smaller companies with fewer employees can be more efficient when they put in a bid, he said. 

He told Trustee Christopher Ottsen that he’d asked officials with Woodhouse Tinnuci, the architect for the overall project, to review the low bids as well.

Woodhouse Tinnuci architects had actually asked for the survey work, specifically a plat of survey and a topographic survey to support the Village’s plan to renovate its beachfront, which includes the decommissioned water plant. The survey information will help ensure that their architectural design is accurate and takes site conditions into account. 

Board members at the meeting unanimously agreed to authorize an award of $15,000 or below. The bid award will be paid with funds from the Kenilworth 2023 project.

Once a contract is signed, survey work would probably begin about two weeks later. The work itself will probably take four to five weeks, Brennan said. 

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Kathy Routliffe

Kathy Routliffe reported in Chicago's near and North Shore suburbs (including Wilmette) for more than 35 years, covering municipal and education beats. Her work, including feature writing, has won local and national awards. She is a native of Nova Scotia, Canada.

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