Officials open bids for school in Brewer

Posted Feb. 26, 2009, at 9:46 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — A panel of state and local officials opened on Thursday seven general contractor bids to construct the new pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school on Parkway South. The base amounts ranged between $22 million and $27 million and are millions less than expected.

“It looks like we’re about 25 percent below” the projected $39.5 million construction costs, Mark Farley, Brewer School Committee chairman, said after the bids were opened.

The economic slump is the reason Farley gave for the considerably lower bids — that and the drop in fuel and other construction costs.

“I’m very pleased with the numbers,” he said. “I think the city is going to have a terrific school.”

All of the bidders “had to be preapproved by the Bureau of General Services,” Superintendent Daniel Lee said. “The BGS and the [Maine] Department of Education” will make the decision about which company will get the contract.

“They’re the ones who have the final say,” he said.

Their decision should be made in the next week or two.

The new combined elementary-middle school will replace four aging elementary schools and Brewer Middle School, all built between 1926 and 1962. Groundwork on the $39.5 million project began in the fall, and if all goes as planned, shovels are expected to be in the ground in April, Lee said.

The new two-story, 156,000-square-foot school, which when complete will be the largest elementary-middle school in the state, is scheduled to be done in the summer of 2011.

The seven construction companies and their base bids are:

· Cianbro Corp. of Pittsfield, $24,965,266.

· JCN Construction of Manchester, N.H., $27,844,000.

· Langford and Low Inc. of Portland, $23,327,000.

· Nickerson & O’Day Inc. of Brewer, $22,194,764.

· P.J. Stella of Wakefield, Mass., $22,958,000.

· The Sheridan Corp. of Portland, $24,589,000.

· Wright-Ryan Construction Inc. of Portland, $23,220,000.

Each of the bids also listed amounts for alternative items including playground and parking work, millwork in classrooms, a storage shed, bleachers, flooring and floor covering, and window shades.

“It certainly appears that our alternatives [will be] included,” Farley said. “I don’t know how you can have a gym without bleachers.”

The state Board of Education approved the final designs in November and preapproved the above general contractors in December.

The new school, which will have separate wings for the different age groups with shared areas in the middle of the building for such things as the cafeteria and media center or library, will have 71 classrooms, house 1,050 students and will include a $2.6 million performing arts center.

Because the Department of Education decided in the fall to delay by six months construction bonds for the new school, school leaders decided to secure interim financing to start the work in the spring and avoid delays, Lee has said.

While work is under way on the new school, it remains nameless and school leaders are asking residents for help. Those with suggestions may submit them on the school department’s Web site, www.breweredu.org.

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