OTISCO TOWNSHIP — A planned township hall addition could be put on hold depending on architectural plans.
During a special meeting Tuesday evening, the Otisco Township Board voted 4-0, with Clerk Lynda Sower absent, to hire architect Steve Worth to draw up plans for a proposed project, for which the board previously accepted bids from two Belding construction companies.
The board then voted 4-0 to hold off on accepting a bid for the project until the architect’s plans for the project are completed, as the bids could change if the architect’s plans differ from the tentative plans the construction companies used to draft bids.
Some township residents have criticized the board’s actions on the matter during recent meetings. Jeff Hunter, a local contractor, raised a number of concerns, one of those being that the board is putting the “horse before the cart” in looking for bids.
“There was nothing for them to bid on. There’s no prints, no elevations, no details …nothing,” Hunter said. “By all rights, if you’re going to hire an architect you should open it back up for bids.”
“These two contractors put a bid in and they’re both very good contractors,” Reeves responded. “I just don’t feel it’s fair to them, now that they’ve put a bid out there and everyone knows that they’ve bid, to open it back up.”
However, if the architect comes back with plans that are much different than the information the contractors have bid on and prices change, Reeves said the project would probably be put out for bid once again.
“I’m not saying that this board would do it because it would make it quite late in the year to get started,” he said. “It could take anywhere from three weeks to a month (to get the plans back from the architect).”
Over the course of the last several months, the board has gone through the process of planning construction for a township hall addition that they say will open up space for voting at the hall and give residents a space to hold events. Part of the process typically involves placing a legal notice in a local newspaper for the area requesting bids from contractors.
In this case, however, no notice was printed. Although the township is under no legal obligation to print a notice, Reeves maintained at Tuesday’s meeting and the regular Aug. 9 meeting that the township had placed an ad in a newspaper.
However, The Daily News confirmed this week that no such notice was ever printed in a local newspaper.
Reeves said he was under the impression that a notice had been printed and that he wouldn’t have insisted it had been printed if he had known it hadn’t.
“I am the one who sat at those meetings and said that it was in the paper. I don’t think I stand on very good ground with the residents of Otisco Township,” he told The Daily News. “I guess the best I can do is apologize and move on.”
Reeves told The Daily News on Wednesday he was under the impression that the notice had been printed because “that is a duty of the clerk.” He said he assumed the notice had been published because the board unanimously approved a motion June 14 to put the project out for bid.
Sower, who has been absent from the last two board meetings, told The Daily News on Wednesday she was never given an ad to run in the paper, that she “isn’t responsible for writing (ads) to put in the paper” and that she was waiting to receive a draft of the notice to be printed.
Reeves said he has no plans to put the project out for bid again, unless the existing bids change after official plans are drawn up. If the existing bids change after the plans come in, then the board could vote to put it back out for bid.
The two companies that bid on the project were J R Wright Builders and Scheid Construction, both of Belding.
Dave Scheid of Scheid Construction said he heard about the project from Ionia County Commissioner Dave Hodges.
Jack Wright of J R Wright Builders thinks he heard about the project after reading a story in The Daily News.
Reeves proposed the formation of a project management committee during Tuesday’s special meeting, recommending Laura Staats, Ben Oatley and Dan Zeigler.
After Reeves made the recommendation, Zeigler said he’d like to resign from the committee, stating he “has too many irons in the fire right now.”
The matter was tabled until the next regular meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 13.