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Turf Bids Higher Than Expected; Referendum Possible?

With seven bids, including two over $1 million, a referendum for the installation of artificial turf at Southington High School is an option but officials remain hopeful that costs could be negotiated for a quality product.

The possibility of a referendum for installation of synthetic turf at continues to linger.

Bids for the project came in a bit higher than expected Thursday, with the lowest bid belonging to Pro Grass, LLC, at $918,000 and two of the seven bidders coming in at over $1 million, but officials are confident that they will be able to negotiate with qualified candidates and still believe that the project could get underway in August.

“We are looking at this from a couple perspectives right now. The seven bids are a positive sign and make the project a competitive one, so these numbers aren’t final,” said Southington Town Council Chairman John Dobbins. “These bids are a starting point and it will allow town staff to negotiate, so we could still see a qualified candidate lower their price toward the range we expected.”

In presenting the initial recommendation to install turf at the high school to the council earlier this year, Turf Committee Chairman Michael DeFeo approached several vendors . After contingency and with bonding, the cost of the project was estimated to be as high as $960,000.

But when bidding closed Thursday, Garry Brumback said the request for proposals came back with the lowest bidders about $30,000 higher than anticipated.

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Pro Grass, a Pennsylvania-based company considered to be one of the better companies in the business, had the lowest bid followed by Milton C. Beebe & Sons, Inc., of Storrs at $950,000 and R.A.D. Sports of Rockland, Mass., at $952,000.

The highest bids were Shaw Sportexe at $1.04 million and Applied Landscape Technologies of New Jersey at $1.2 million.

For a complete list of bidders and their proposals, see the PDF above or .

“These proposals are all without the benefit of background checks and references at this point,” Brumback said Thursday afternoon. “There’s still a lot of work to be done before we have a final number or recommendation. The council is solid in their support of the project, but we can assure the public that this is a decision no one is taking lightly.”

There for the project as nearly 60 people spoke at a public hearing in May, all in favor of installing turf, but talks of wanting a referendum have come up more prominently in recent weeks.

During a discussion at the Southington Planning and Zoning Commission meeting last week, an 8-24 referral passed 5-2 after that they believed the process should not have reached the commission. Both said the supported turf but believed it should have gone to referendum.

Dobbins, along with council members Cheryl Lounsbury and John Barry said Thursday that it’s still early in the process, but the primary goal remains focused on making sure the town receives a quality product. They were hopeful it wouldn’t have to go to referendum, but said they will follow town charter and are not opposed to it if it means selecting the best candidate pushes the total cost over $1 million.

“The numbers are so close to $1 million, it’s hard to tell how it will play out,” Barry said. “We need to do this right and we need to have a reserve.”

Brumback said talk right now is only speculation, but the town will move forward with plans to fund the project using cash . If the qualified bidder comes in under $1 million after contingency and the council approves the recommendation, work would begin in August with an estimated completion date of Oct. 24, a date submitted by all seven companies. 

Should there be a need for a referendum, the work would likely be delayed by about nine months and would be completed in summer 2013, provided voters pass the referendum in November, Brumback said.

“Right now, we are not focused on whether there will be a referendum or not,” Dobbins said. “We need to go over all the materials and make the best decision for the town and this project. We will not compromise quality on this and see additional costs later on. If it goes over $1 million, it will go to referendum.”

“The bids were a bit high, but they were all in the neighborhood of what we expected. These are not final, though. There’s still a lot of work to be done before we see where they end up.”

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Tony Casale June 29, 2012 at 08:39 PM
To Mr. Goralski Brian, I respect you for all the work you put in and for your leadership on the BOE, but we heard time and time again how much money the BOE would save each year by adding Turf, we hear over and over how the BOE enjoys a meaningful partnership with the community. How the BOE respects the work of the other boards in Southington. Irresponsible is not a word you should throw around, we (the BOF) worked very hard on the turf proposal, I personally attended all but one of your meetings. we decided to pay cash to avoid any tax increases, we saved $25,000 right away and what ever the interest would be on the bond. To ask the BOE for $40,000 of an $83,000,000 budget is not irresponsible, it is a symbolic gesture to show partnership with the community, in all reality,we funded $920,000 all the BOE will end up paying is...$0.. if the project has no unexpected expenses, and maybe $10,000 if it does. The turf committee stated in the final proposal a savings of almost $43,000 yearly, how did that get reduced to $5,000. I look forward to having face to face discussions on these topics. I believe it's time to let the voters decide this one. Tony Casale Southington Board of Finance Taxpayer BOE Employee
Kevin J July 03, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Hey Bozo, don't forget Hatton School!
Kevin J July 03, 2012 at 11:29 AM
What a convenient way for Arthur Cyr to double-back and change his tune. Weren't you the clown who said to all the naysayers to look at the written proposals for the turf project, I have, it looks great, who are you to question it if you haven't read this stuff and attended the meetings, how dare you question the uprightness of our officials and Big Joe Fontana? Yep, yourrrrr the guy. You are quite the piece of work!
Kevin J July 03, 2012 at 11:34 AM
And let the taxpayers not forget that the town hoo-hahs are planning to use $300 thousand of contingency money -- money you set aside for emergencies -- to make this project float! That's how they're making this work without directly adding a line item for "idiocy expenditures" to the budget. [Not to mention paying for the rest with a loan that will be classified as "debt service." It goes without saying, despite all the nice written documentation (probably cooked up to suit the plan) and the sanctimonious town meetings (carefully orchestrated by the sports wonks involved), the project will likely exceed a million and should have had town-wide referendum all along. And I thought Republicans were supposed to be conservative. Guess the political ethic goes out the door with sports mania!
Arthur Cyr July 03, 2012 at 12:44 PM
To Kevin "J". I changed my position when the Chairman of the BOE stated that they were NOT going to contribute ANY money to fund this project. My support was based on yearly savings in maintenance of about $43,000, which Brian now says is only $5,000. I have also said to some people in this town that based on verbal changes coming from the BOE that we should set up and approve the Oversight Committee before we put a single shovel in the ground. Make sure if the Town does 99% of the funding we get 99% of the control of scheduling and funding and revenue control. And regarding contingency funds? At the end of the year, any and all funds in all budget line items are moved into the "contingency fund", and that's where the $300K is coming from. Not the "emergency only fund". And possibly you didn't read that the other $600K is NOT a loan w/ debt service, they are moving funds from the excess surplus in the Town Self-Insurance fund. Try to respond without sounding like the clown you claim I am? You really can disagree with facts, or truth.... if you can find them.

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