By Meg Olson
Point Roberts Parks and Recreation District commissioners voted 4-1 to retain low-bidder HBHansen as the contractor for the new library. Commissioner Doug Shier was the dissenting vote and he resigned on the spot.
“I can no longer be a part of this if HBHansen is involved,” Shier said at the September 11 meeting of the parks board. “I hope I don’t come back in a year and say I told you so.”
Shier wasn’t the only one at the meeting with concerns about the contractor. “I do have reservations,” said former parks district chair Mark Robbins.
Robbins said his concerns were based on his experience when the district hired HBHansen for drainage upgrades to the community center. “They cut corners and made lots of changes without going back and talking to the engineer. It was pretty sloppy.”
Robbins added that the company did submit the low bid and will post a performance bond.
Following up on concerns raised about the contractor at an August 30 special meeting, commissioner Stephen Falk said he had spoken with local developers and received positive —if not enthusiastic— reviews. Lorne Nielson at Nielson’s building center “thought they [HBHansen] would be excellent,” Falk said.
Falk added that advice from legal counsel was to accept the low bid. “We’re a public agency where the basic criteria prevails.”
Architect David King said he was confident HBHansen was competent to do the job, and with their experience working on the Point, was likely the most qualified of all the bidders to do the job. “The construction industry is a problem laden process,” he said. “The whole process is about solving problems.”
As project manager, King would visit the site weekly to act as a liaison with the builder. “This is a black and white document,” King said, indicating the bid and backup documentation, which outlines the specifics of the project.
Parks board chair Linda Hughes said she felt confident the project would proceed successfully with King’s management. “I had a lot of problems with this and you swayed me,” she said.
Friends of the Point Roberts Library Judy Ross was present to announce that they had raised the funds to cover any shortfall and allow the parks district to sign the contract with the builder. “The friends have once again had another phenomenally successful match program,” Falk said.
HBHansen’s bid 1-5, opened August 23, was $781,000 not including alternates such as air conditioning and expanded meeting room and children’s area. The Whatcom County Library System will consider covering the air conditioning and Ross said she is hopeful further funds could be raised to pay for the expanded children’s area.