Harpswell winter road work open to all bidders

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HARPSWELL — Goodall Landscaping will be invited to bid on a winter roads contract in Harpswell, the Board of Selectmen decided, but owner Ben Goodall has to convince the board he can do a better job than he did last winter.

“I think it’s reasonable to allow them to bid,” Selectman Jim Henderson said in a May 31 meeting. “… I think they know from our last conversation with them that we have concerns other than the amount that they bid, to convince us that they have the capability this time.”

Selectmen considered excluding Goodall from the process, but ultimately decided they could be persuaded to give him another chance.

“I can say that I was disappointed with some of the things that happened,” Selectman Alison Hawkes said. “But I also think he’s a human being and some things happened and he lost his manager and some things fell apart.”

Goodall was taken to task after last winter, when residents and School Administrative District 75 officials complained about unplowed roads.

In April, before the board voted not to extend a contract with Goodall, he said he had been caught unprepared by October snowstorms, and that he had made needed changes to ensure good performance in the future.

Board Chairwoman Elinor Multer questioned whether Goodall should be allowed to bid this time around.

“If we’re not going to consider him for the contract regardless, then there’s no point in inviting him to put together a bid, which involves some work,” Multer said.

She said that it was likely that Goodall would come in with the lowest bid, which would put the board in the position of having to consider approving an unpopular plowing contract.

The town has generated a sample contract that includes several clauses meant to provide protection from a repeat of last year, regardless of who wins the bid.

Additional language allows the town’s road commissioner to inspect the equipment on an annual basis on October 1.

It will also be easier for the town to get out of the contract.

“While we’re seeking a three-year contract, it will be subject to annual performance reviews,” Town Administrator Kristi Eiane said.

Selectmen also noted that, if the contractor fails to provide adequate services, a different contractor could be brought in at the expense of the first contractor.

Language that would have specifically called for renegotiation in the case of higher-than-expected diesel costs was eliminated.

Eiane said there will be a pre-bid conference for potential bidders June 27 at 4:30 p.m. at the Town Office.

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