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City council to decide whether to proceed with flooring project
MONROE - Board of Public Works members Monday evaluated two offers to complete work for the City Hall flooring project that began more than a year and a half ago, but opted against making a recommendation, instead leaving the decision for the full Monroe Common Council at the urging of Mayor Louis Armstrong.

The city request for contract offers had four options: the original project that failed at the end of 2016 with carpet squares and vinyl tiles in the hallways, the original with the addition of an adhesive system between the cement and materials, stretched carpeting and non-shifting planks, or polishing the cement and adding planks and stretch carpet in other areas. The polished concrete would be the flooring in areas like council chambers, the fire station, parks and recreation department and engineering department.

Initial discussion involved the consideration of accepting a late bid by KSW Construction of Verona, which Director of Public Works Al Gerber said called him roughly an hour after the deadline had passed with its submission. Gerber explained that the company recently lost its contract administration staff member, leading to the late submission.

Board members Rob Schilt, Donna Douglas and Mickey Beam accepted the late bid for consideration after both Rath and Armstrong said having more options to consider was better. The board was also reassured by City Attorney Dan Bartholf that Fundamental Designs LLC of Monroe, which had submitted its claim on time, would not have much standing in a potential lawsuit if the city were to accept KSW's bid.

Fundamental Designs and KSW both met the specifications of the request. Gerber said KSW secured 5 percent bonding for the project. Fundamental Designs sent a cashier's check, which he noted was also acceptable. The city has a legal obligation to choose the lowest responsible bid. Council members can also reject both bids.

Fundamental Designs was the lower bidder. Its estimates were roughly $103,000 for option no. 1, $191,000 for option no. 2, $103,000 for option no. 3 and $97,000 for option no. 4.

KSW quoted roughly $119,000 for option no. 1, $228,000 for option no. 2, $119,000 for option no. 3 and $112,000 for option no. 4.

Rath added that a benefit to Fundamental Designs was that it "had been on-site several times with different contractors" looking "at a variety of aspects."

Armstrong suggested the board not examine the bids too closely without the five additional aldermen present. Instead, he said the information should be dispersed to fellow council members, who could then have a chance to compile questions about the options and bring any inquiries to full council during its meeting at 7:30 p.m. today in the City Hall Annex, 1821 12th St.

City Hall has been closed to the public since mid-August 2016, when work began to remove asbestos tiling that had begun to crack throughout the building. KPH Environmental and Construction of Milwaukee, the company hired to clean the material, was met with an obstacle when the new tiles would not stick to the cement below. In December 2016, work looked to soon be completed, but KPH encountered another problem with flooring material. When the city denied two change orders, one which would have doubled the cost of the project, it declared KPH at fault for the work and asked that the construction company's insurance verify workers had cleaned the cement properly through a third-party vendor.

City staff have been re-housed in departments throughout the city, from the westside fire station to the Monroe Streets Department to the wastewater treatment plant.

In July, the insurance company rejected the claim by the city that the adhesion problem was due to irresponsible work by KPH. Since then, the city has been deliberating with a contract attorney over legal action against KPH. Bartholf said the city will need to assess its damages via the new work for any potential lawsuit against KPH.