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Gary library board awards new contract for cultural center

Otis Alexander Gary Public Library Director. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media









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Otis Alexander, Gary Public Library Director. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet

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Updated: April 29, 2012 8:23AM



GARY — An internal mistake pushed the Gary Public Library Board into re-awarding the interior design work for the new South Shore Museum and Cultural Center for a little more money.

The board also decided to give laid off library employees severance pay on top of the money they would already have coming.

Powers and Sons of Gary was awarded the contract for the interior work converting the former Main Branch of the library into the cultural center for $2.9 million, beating out four other competitors but charging more than their first contract.

In late February, the company was awarded a $2.7 million contract for the work. Only one other bidder, Gariup Construction, also of Gary, responded to the solicitation, but the company’s bid was not fully responsive, officials said then.

The $200,000 difference between Powers’ two contracts may be ironed out during contract negotiations.

Apparently, the library staff did not properly put out the solicitation for bids, which meant potentially interested contractors did not know of the bid deadlines. Post-Tribune coverage of the late February award prompted contractors, like Precision Construction of Highland, to express interest in bidding on the work.

When board members learned of the mistake, they promptly called for a new bid process, said board president Tony Walker.

“We felt it was in the best interest of the library to put the bid back out and go at it again,” he said. “The library staff failed to property notice the solicitation, but when it was brought to our attention, we acted on it.”

The five bidders Tuesday offered base bids plus alternates that were reviewed by the project’s architect and a board attorney. Those alternates typically contain the kind of flexibility that allows board to tailor the work to their needs.

The money for the work will come from the library’s $6 million reserve fund, Walker said.

The board also voted to give each laid off employee — 12 full-time and 13 part-time workers — a one-week severance package on top of pay for accrued sick and vacation time. The board made the decision even after learning it was not required to do so.

And, in the good-news-bad-news category, finance manager Fred McMillan told the board the state approved the library system’s $5.6 million budget. The bad news is, with a roughly 65 percent property tax collection rate, the system can expect revenues of $2.3 million to $2.5 million, McMillan said after the announcement.



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