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A low bid doesn't get contract to demolish old farm labor camp

At a special meeting on Tuesday, the City Council made moved toward the next phase in the demolition of the old Wasco Farm Labor Camp with the selection of a contractor, Resource Environmental, to do the job. The decision was made after the original bid was rejected.

Currently, the labor camp is at the step of abatement, which is making sure that the materials that need to be removed are properly disposed of from the site, such as lead paint and materials containing asbestos.

The process of selecting the contractor involved an extensive procedure with a request for bids to perform the demolition and cleanup released on Oct. 22. On November 1, 2023, a non-mandatory job-walk was held at the site. Six of the seven companies ultimately bidding on the project attended the job-walk.

On Nov.14, the two low bids received were from Balandra Demolition at $747,000 and Resource Environmental at $1,248,000.

After reviewing the received bids, staff had particular questions regarding the apparent low bid of $747,000, just 60% of the lowest bid of $1,248,000 and less than 40% of the average of all bids. This concerned staff as they didn't know if Balandra was capable of completing the demolition within 60 days, a critical component of the project requirements.

Further, they were not present at the job-walk,

Staff conducted a conference call with a representative of Balandra to make sure they were confident with their bid amount, and they indicated they were.

Balandra indicated they would subcontract the hauling to a local truck company during that call. This was contrary to statements by Balandra that they own and operate all of their equipment and would not use subcontractors.

Included in the bid package is a list of required documents, one of which is the Form 12-B, used to list all project subcontractors, if any. Balandra failed to submit Form 12-B initially, which is what prompted questions about subcontractors during the conference call.

To further resolve questions of Balandra, an additional request was made via email for three work references that closely compare to this labor camp demolition.

Balandra was not able to submit the requested references via email, but the city staff verbally accepted the names and numbers of three references over the phone. Each reference was contacted by staff.

Given the multiple issues and subsequent protests received from other bidders, the city attorney issued a letter to Balandra indicating intent to reject their bid unless the issues could be addressed and resolved by noon, Dec. 4. Balandra responded on Dec. 2. In that response, they disputed staff's concerns and provided an additional reference for work on a large project in 2001.

Staff contacted the reference, Hunt Building Corporation, and spoke with Mr. Scott Belknap, who is listed as the general superintendent for the job. Mr. Belknap confirmed the project but did not recall Balandra Demolition or Alfredo Balandra (owner) nor the scope of work provided by Balandra. Additionally, the city had requested the submittal of Form 12-B, but Balandra did not provide it.

As a result, the city rejected the bid from Balandra Demolition and approved for the city to move forward with Resource Environmental for the demolition of the farm labor camp, including the hauling off and the cleaning of the site.

The demolition project will begin as soon as the abatement phase is completed or even more shortly. The abatement is anticipated to be completed in January.

"We are very happy that this project is moving forward, and we look forward to having it completed early next year," City Manager Scott Hurlbert said.


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