Citizen frustrated with Antrim’s bid process

PAT FRIDGEN
TERRY WHITMORE

Terry Whitmore wants the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors to know that when they reject bids for projects, there are people at the other end of those bids. He appeared at the Oct. 11 meeting to express his frustration at Antrim's bid process, calling it "a mess" for the past year and a half.

He had hoped to be hired to lay epoxy floors for the new concession stand, now under construction.

Whitmore, who lives in Antrim Township, is the owner of Gemstone Concrete Decor. Two years ago he voluntarily laid the flooring for the restroom near the pavilion at Antrim Township Community Park.

He watched the roller coaster as the supervisors tried to erect a concession stand at the park. The first overall bid of $139,353 was rejected in June 2010 as too expensive. In July they decided not to put up a stand at all. In September they hoped to find volunteer labor but no one was interested. Last December all bids were rejected for errors or omissions, but if accepted, the building would have cost about $122,000. In May 2011 the board agreed to let students from Franklin County Career and Technology Center construct the stand. Two weeks later the supervisors changed their minds, since that process would have taken two years. The cost would have been only student transportation, insurance and materials. On May 31 a vote to go back out to bid passed 3-1 with Fred Young III, Curtis Myers and Rick Baer in favor, Sam Miller opposed, and James Byers absent.

On June 28 only one company bid for the general construction, and it was accepted at $92,413. Three plumbing bids came in, and $32,000 was accepted. The electrical bids were incomplete and rejected. By the end of July a bid of $20,195 passed muster.

The 30x30 concession stand is in its final phases of construction, at $144,608. Part of the funding comes from a DCNR matching grant. About half of the $225,000 was spent on other projects.

Whitmore's beef

Whitmore bid his services through Palmer's Construction the first time around. That's when the whole project was deemed too expensive. Then the services were split up and Palmer won, but was ultimately rejected because the company forgot to include a workman's compensation statement in the document, though Whitmore said the form was included with the first bid. He alleged the township had sent him a notice to bid that second round and attend a pre-bid meeting. That's why he went through Palmer again, but everything was "shot down." On the third try, the flooring contractor's notice from Antrim gave him only a short window to bid, and he heard mixed instructions on using prevailing wage in his numbers. His proposal was in the middle.

Whitmore liked the idea of letting the tech school students do the work. He did not like the whole process for finding contractors.

"It's a flipping snack shop."

As a member of the Franklin County Citizens for Responsible Government, Whitmore told the supervisors he had heard complaints about them for two years. People were concerned about general issues, as well as Norfolk Southern, and inconsistencies. He was ready to put together a committee to watch the board.

He planned to get more involved, especially since his line of work was slower in the off-season.

"It's time to do something. Since I got screwed, I got all winter. I'll come to the meetings."