By Bill Short
The Millington School Board has accepted a new bid of $5,709,295 submitted for construction of a proposed Performing Arts Center, based on revised architectural plans.
Board members took the action during an Oct. 17 special called meeting on a motion offered by Vice Chairman C. J. Haley and seconded by Larry Jackson.
The motion was passed by a 4-2 vote, with Mark Coulter and Ronnie Mackin dissenting and Chris Denson absent.
The successful bidder was Fulwood Construction Co. of Olive Branch, Miss.
At an April 20 special called meeting, a majority of the board members rejected the lowest/best bid of $6,368,876 originally submitted by Fulwood.
A motion offered by Haley and seconded by Chairman Cody Childress to accept that bid was defeated by a 4-3 vote, with Coulter, Denson, Jackson and Mackin dissenting.
Dr. David Roper, superintendent of Millington Municipal Schools, told the board at a June 29 meeting that he had asked the architectural/engineering firm TLM Associates of Jackson to submit new designs for construction of the proposed building on the Millington Central High School campus.
He said he believed those designs could “substantially” decrease the construction cost by “reducing the footprint” of the building with exclusion of the MCHS Broadcasting Department from it.
At its Sept. 5 meeting, the board voted to advertise for new bids.
Jerry Hartsfield and Frank Wagster of TLM Associates presented revised architectural plans that removed the Broadcasting Department, the “shop area” and an enclosed walkway from the building’s square footage.
Hartsfield noted that the parking lot, access drives and storm drainage all stayed “pretty much the same” as the original plans. He also said the interior of the building, including the stage, number of seats, lobby space and restrooms, was not changed.
At the Oct. 17 meeting, Hartsfield said the original design had approximately 24,000 square feet, and the new one has 19,747. He noted that the new price per square foot reflects the possibility that there could be “some bad soil” at the site.
“We don’t know how much,” he acknowledged, “because you’re looking at holes drilled that are about 4 inches in diameter in several different places.”
Hartsfield said that part must be quantified and documented by a third party, which will be a testing laboratory.
In response to a question by Childress, Hartsfield said the problem is that some types of soil have better “compaction rates” than others. He noted that Fulwood’s bid includes a $96,250 “allowance” for excavating and hauling off bad soil and replacing it with a good type.
If no bad soil is found, he said the $96,250 will be a “credit” back to the school system.
Roper said adding architectural fees, construction administration, Memphis Light, Gas & Water fees, seating, lighting, stage curtains, etc., brings the total projected cost of the project to approximately $6,470,000.
Childress said the original price that the board was “shooting for on the front end” was between $6 million and $6.5 million.
Although TLM Associates had estimated the total cost at $5,193,461, Roper acknowledged that the bids came in higher, which he thought might happen with the re-advertisement.
“There was no assurance that we would get the bids at a level we were hoping for,” he noted. “So, the final total is based on the actual bid and the costs that are going to be associated with that.”
Hartsfield said that, between the first and second times Fulwood “priced the job,” the cost of steel increased by 20 percent.
“This building’s got a lot of steel in it,” he noted. “And that’s where most of his costs are.”
Mackin said the original price per square foot was $263, and now it is $289, while 4,000 square feet has been removed from the design.
Childress said that was the “chance” the board took by not accepting the original bid that Fulwood said it would “stand behind,” which was almost six months old.
The board chairman said he had hoped that some more “local contractors” would participate in the rebidding process, because they had “shown interest.”
“We presented them the opportunity, and they didn’t come forward,” he noted. “So, I believe we’ve done our due diligence.”
Because there was a time line involved in the rebidding process, Roper has said mid-November is the “earliest” that construction can begin.
By Bill Short