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Bids Better For Civic Center
Movement could soon be made on Escalon's Civic Center project, with a bid opening on Thursday, Jan. 22 bringing in some affordable proposals for the work.

Originally, bids for the project on McHenry Avenue came in over budget and they were rejected, with the plans revised slightly and put out to bid again. The main change was breaking up the work into two parts, finishing the new Police Department facility first, with a bid addendum to do the City Hall portion of the project.

Bids were opened at the Escalon Community Center on Thursday afternoon, with several bidders in attendance. Eighteen bids were received for the project this time around.

Turning in the low base bid was S.W. Allen Construction, at $1,973,901.

The high bid was from Hilbers Inc. at $2,931,000.

"We're obligated to take the lowest responsible bid," Escalon City Manager Greg Greeson said. "That would be S.W. Allen, provided everything is in order."

Officials are going through the bid now, working to determine if all criteria has been met. If so, the bid can be awarded.

Each bidder submitted the base bid, along with the addendum to add the City Hall work in if the financing allows. If not done now, the City Hall portion of the new Civic Center will be done at a later date.

"We look at the whole bid," Greeson explained. "We'll put both in front of the council, then they'll decide whether to go with just the base bid or the base and the addendum."

Looking at the base bid only, S.W. Allen is the apparent low bidder. Greeson said he believed they were also among the lowest once the addendum was figured in. Since that is an option, however, the council would award the bid based on the lowest base bid package, not the overall price for both facilities.

"This time around, our hope was for the bid for the police department to come in so we could move forward," Greeson said.

Bids came in about $400,000 less than the first time and with the base bid under $2 million, it looks like the goal can be met.

"We expected more bids than the first time and we were both surprised and pleased with the amount of bids," added Greeson.

A recommendation for action could be made to the Escalon City Council as early as the Monday, Feb. 2 meeting.

Police Chief Doug Dunford was among the city staff members on hand for the bid opening and was also pleased with the result, since it appears as though work can begin soon on the new facility for the department. The goal is to move in to the McHenry Avenue office this year.

The city purchased shell buildings on McHenry and an adjoining lot for future expansion.

Meanwhile, the Feb. 2 council session will also include Greeson's mid-year budget review, with some recommendations for minor cutbacks in certain areas to ensure a balanced budget by the end of the fiscal year.

The council meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Ekholm Meeting Room of the Escalon Library on Second Street.