Amphitheater construction bid awarded, held up

Construction of a 1,300-seat amphitheater on Hamilton Street was on track to begin last week — until a competing construction firm filed an injunction over losing out on the bid. A judge is scheduled to hear the case on Monday, according to City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier.

The Redevelopment Agency awarded a $4.8-million base bid to Berto Construction of Rahway and another $130,761 in additional alternate bids for a total $4.95 million. A lower base bid of $4.65 million by W.D. Snyder Company was rejected as a “deficient bid proposal” for a “material breach,” Pelissier said, and the Kenilworth-based firm filed an injunction. There was a third bid, from 3R Contracting for $4.89 million.

Bids were opened on Sept. 17 and City Engineer James Housten told the Redevelopment Agency at its meeting last month that construction was on track to begin the week of Oct. 11 and be completed by June 15, 2011 — in time to open by July 4, 2011. Architects were within 10 percent of the estimate — an exceptional result, according to the administration.

The largest items in the $4.8-million base bid are for concrete ($1.083 million), electrical ($708,315), and steel ($470,573). The $130,761 alternate bids include about seven options chosen, outside of the base bid. About $27,366 was included for concrete instead of grassy walkways. City Administrator and Redevelopment Director Peter Pelissier told commissioners that concrete would reduce maintenance needs and can be hosed down and eliminate the need for mowing. Another $36,300 was accepted for color-changing LED lighting, which Pelissier explained will add to the visual impact of performances.

Another $40,000 alternate bid was accepted for flood insurance, which would cover the costs of any damages should a flood occur during the construction, according to Pelissier. Flood insurance for the actual facility will not be needed since the facility is concrete, he said, adding that he will check with the city’s insurance broker once the project is completed.

An alternate bid of $82,000 was not included in the proposal for removable seats, which would account for 700 of the 1,300 seats in the facility and come in sections of five. Pelissier said it was unclear how the removable seats could be stored or how many people it would take to install them. “The logistics didn’t make sense,” he said.

The state Local Finance Board’s concerns about back-loaded borrowing by municipalities, according to this report last week on NorthJersey.com/The Record, would have no affect on the timetable for the amphitheater, Pelissier said. The City Council earlier this year authorized borrowing $8.5 million for construction of Arts District projects, including the $3-million amphitheater.

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Here’s another write-up of the New Jersey Hot Dog Tour, which stopped at Rahway Grill, this time a more detailed piece from Serious Eats, which called the Grill “a hidden gem.”