Earlier this evening, the Baldwin County Board of Education took no action to move forward with the bid to build the new Orange Beach Middle School/High School.
The board voted unanimously to take no action with the bid and to evaluate all rights available to the board in renegotiating the matter after only one bid came in for the project that was almost $20 million over expected cost projections.
Thrash Contractors was the only group to submit a bid for the project, coming in at $42.7 million with its bid. The school system’s initial estimates for the project were closer to $25 million.
Superintendent Eddie Tyler said the system was taking time to reevaluate the project.
“We had one bidder, and right now we’re just rethinking the bid process,” Tyler said. “We want to make sure we do it right so we’re getting our group together, our attorneys and the architect, and we’re going to determine a course of action here immediately.”
Tyler said he hoped to have something in front of the board by the November meeting.
BCBE board member David Tarwater said the amount quoted in the bid was unacceptable.
“Coming in $20 million over the projected estimates for this project is just not something I can support, nor do I think this board could support,” Tarwater said. “We were elected to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money, and that amount is completely unacceptable. We will find a way to make this construction move forward, but not at that price.”
Tyler said the delay could affect the possible timeline for having the new school built.
“The timeline is something we’re going to rethink and look at,” Tyler said. “This came at the eleventh hour. The smart thing to do is to step back and evaluate where we are, make sure we’re following Alabama law, and then move forward immediately in the best way we can.”
School officials said this setback could affect negotiations regarding the split between Baldwin County and the newly created Gulf Shores City School System.