Chapel Hill awards $169k contract for town hall addition

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

CHAPEL HILL -- A contract worth nearly $169,000 to enlarge Town Hall was awarded on Monday night by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to a Lewisburg construction company.

Truette Construction proprietor John Chunn of South Horton Parkway, who's been chairman of the town's Planning Commission, submitted the lowest of three bids to build an addition to Town Hall on Unionville Road.

"We were really hoping it would come in under $200,000," Town Administrator Mike Hatten said.

Also bidding were Isaac Zimmerle of Prime Builders of South Horton Parkway and J.R. Warren Contractor of Shelbyville who bid $286,000 and $189,000 respectively, according to an announcement during the town board meeting Monday in the Police and Fire Building.

Architect Mike Stewart of Murfreesboro has designed the addition to enlarge Town Hall from approximately 1,000 square feet to 3,200 square feet.

"Town Hall has had some serious issues," Hatten said.

They include a leaky roof and a lack of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

"We have a bungee cord holding the drawer closed," Hatten said. "We need better security."

Alderman Henry Frame endorsed the addition, saying, "It sure needs to be done."

Alternatives to enlarging Town Hall included building another one on different property and demolishing the current structure and constructing a new building.

"Demolition and reconstruction gets pretty expensive," the town administrator said.

"The ambulance building (across Horton Parkway from the Police and Fire Building) has been offered to us free of charge by the Lions Club," so the town will have offices elsewhere during the construction job, he said.

Without employees working in the building, the construction time could be cut by "30-40 days," Hatten said.

Comments heard at other recent government project bid openings indicate there's a buyer's market for construction now and the town administrator substantiated the view, noting that developers want to keep their construction crews together.

"I think we're getting a good price," he said.

Mayor Carl Cooper, Hatten and Town Attorney J. Todd Moore spoke briefly about bid prices and a municipality's responsibility.

Chapel Hill "didn't have to accept the low bid," Moore said, "but it would be a good idea to say why" when a higher bidder was accepted.

Hatten noted government is obliged to accept the best bidder and to reject a low bidders seen as unable to fulfill contract requirements.

Cooper said, "In this instance we did" accept the low bid.

The exact dollar amount of Chunn's bid is $168,962.45.