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Upper Perk Middle School Bids Surprise Officials
Written by Bradley Schlegel

Base bids total nearly $10 million under estimate


            A bid opening for the construction of Upper Perkiomen's proposed new middle school unveiled prices well below a previous estimate by school district officials.  The average of four separate base bids announced August 3 totaled $49.032 million. School districts officials previously budgeted $58.496 million for the school, which is planned for Montgomery Avenue in Upper Hanover.

            "I am pleasantly surprised," Superintendent Alexis McGloin said.

            Twenty six contractors from as far away as Aston in Delaware County, as well as Zion Grove, Willow Street and East Petersburg submitted bids to complete the general, HVAC, plumbing and electrical construction on the facility for sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

            The bid opening is the beginning of the process to award the contracts for the new facility, according to McGloin. She said the school board is required to award the contract in each of the four contractors to the "lowest responsible bidder."

            In October, district officials presented a budget to the public that included construction costs of $44.1 million, site development costs of $5.5 million, architectural services of $2.98 million and a $2 million contingency fund.  

            Seven base bids for the school's general construction ranged from $32.557 million to $36.449 million.

            The general construction bids included a base bid and 15 alternates, which included the option of utilizing different materials to complete the installation of the exterior walls, roof, interior floors, windows and exterior grass as well as options to remove rocks on the property and install an allergy-free Kitchen.

            The eight plumbing bids, which include base figures ranging from $2.567 million to $3.591 million, included the alternative to fit out the allergy-free kitchen.

            Eight contractors submitted HVAC base bids, which ranged from $4.889 million to $5.93 million. The bid also included a similar alternative to fit out the allergy-free kitchen.

            The electrical base bids, from 10 contractors, averaged $5.838 million. They also included alternative bids to fit out the allergy-free kitchen as well as two additional options to install a rooftop solar electric system design to offset three percent and five percent, respectively, of the building's electricity.

            M. Arif Fazil of D'Huy Engineering Inc. of Bethlehem, the firm hired to manage the construction, said the number of bids and the relative proximity of the figures exceeded his expectations.  "The district should be very happy with the results,"

            He credited the timing of the process and the efforts of his co-workers and the architects for the scope and clarity of the bidding documents.

            "It looks like process went very well," Fazil said.

            Just before 3:30 p.m. John W. Sheeran, the district's director of facilities and operations, wheeled the four boxes of bid documents to the edge of a rectangular table set up along a sidewall inside the all-purpose room at the education center. Sandra Kassel, the district's business administrator, unsealed each manila folder and announced the corresponding contractor before handing the paperwork to Fazil, who announced the figures.

            According to McGloin, the bids will be presented during Thursday's public school board meeting. She said the lowest responsible bidders will be identified after the submitted documents are examined and board members determine which alternatives will be selected.

            The board members will hash out those items during an August 24 public meeting, according to the superintendent. She said a final vote is expected in September, the same month construction is expected to commence.






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