Bids below budget to replace Scarborough school

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SCARBOROUGH — Groundbreaking at the new Benjamin Wentworth Intermediate School could occur by the end of the month.

The School Board is scheduled to vote Thursday night on a $27.9 million construction bid.

Arthur C. Dudley Contractor Builder of Standish submitted the lowest of four bids opened Sept. 6 by Assistant Superintendent Jo Anne Sizemore. The bid is $3 million below the construction allowance of $31 million.

Voters approved a $39 million bond for a new 163,000-square-foot school last November. The bond covers “hard” construction costs and “soft” costs including engineering, permitting and interior costs for items like furniture, Sizemore said.

On Monday, the school building committee led by Paul Koziell voted unanimously to recommend the board approve the Dudley bid, while also approving a letter of intent to show the compnay it would be the choice for the work.

The remaining hurdle in the project is obtaining permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for wetlands work at the new school property, which is adjacent to the existing school.

Todd Jepson, director of Buildings, Grounds and Maintenance, said the final documents for the permit were submitted in July and he and Town Planner Dan Bacon have received assurances the permits will be granted shortly. Construction cannot begin until the permits are granted.

Koziell said the committee is ready to seek assistance from Maine’s congressional delegation in order to prevent delays in construction for the project that is expected to be completed by the beginning of the 2014 school year.

The range of bids from four companies was very narrow. Portland-based Wright-Ryan Construction submitted the highest bid, at $28.9 million. Bedford, N.H.-based Harvey Construction bid $28.8 million for the job and Fairfield-based Sheridan Construction bid $28.7 million.

Koziell and School Board Chairman Bob Mitchell said they were pleased to see bids come in below the construction allowance and so closely separated.

Koziell said having bids so similar showed the committee and its architects, Harriman Architects & Engineers, provided clear design plans and specifications for consideration.

“It means everyone looked at the project the same way,” he said.

Mitchell said $20 million of bonds have been sold, which provides enough money for work to start and continue through next year.

Arthur Dudley is the contractor for ongoing construction at Chelsea Elementary School, and built Durham Community School and Geiger Elementary School in Lewiston.

Wentworth School serves third- through fifth-graders. The building opened in 1964 as the town junior high school.

Reaching this stage, Wentworth Principal Anne-Mayre Dexter said, should boost the staff’s morale.

“It is the day we have been waiting for,” she said. “The staff has been longing to know things are moving forward.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.