By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE — Selinsgrove borough’s long wait for the reconstruction of the South Front Street boat launch nearly got longer Monday after a potential snafu in the bidding process for the project arose.
Following a lively discussion, the Borough Council voted unanimously to award the $63,000 contract to G&R Charles, of Port Trevorton.
It’s a major step in opening the boat launch, which has been closed to the public for three years.
The borough built the boat launch in 2008 with an $88,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, but it was closed less than three years later after it failed to pass inspection and was deemed to be a safety hazard.
Soon after, council members determined it was former borough manager John Bickhart who drew up the boat launch plans that did not meet state approval. G&R Charles built the original boat launch to those improper specifications.
As a result of the faulty plans, the state required the borough to make the repairs with additional permit approvals and an OK from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Last month, the borough obtained a green light for the project.
For added reassurance, borough officials informed the Fish and Boat Commission that it would require all bidders to be pre-qualified by the state Department of Transportation.
Three bids were received, but the lowest bidder did not meet the specification of a PennDOT pre-qualification, prompting resident Jim Charles to question the borough’s bidding process.
“It could be construed as selective bidding,” he said, pointing out that the borough hadn’t specified the requirement on other similar projects, including the building of the boat launch in 2008.
Solicitor Robert Cravitz cautioned the council that if it waived the specification and awarded the project to the lowest bidder that does not have PennDOT pre-qualification, it could open the borough up to lawsuits from other companies that may otherwise have submitted bids.
The other alternative, rebidding the project, would delay its opening even longer. In the end, the council unanimously approved the lowest bidder who met all the requirements to complete the project.