2017-09-28 / News

Seeking To Clarify Details of St. Ignace Marina Dock Bid Process

The process of soliciting and accepting bids on the dock work at the St. Ignace Marina came into question last week when the city council received a letter from Straits Building Center objecting to the process. [The St. Ignace News, September 21.] Gary McDonald of the company has asked to clarify details of the September 21 news report on the marina dock bid process.

Mr. McDonald said he believes it is important that the public know specific details of the process that show Straits Building Center was not negligent in making a bid for the project, and he believed the information in the news report characterized his company’s efforts unfairly.

Standale Lumber, a company from Grandville, was selected to supply the project.

Mr. McDonald contends that he was not made aware of the project until July 14, weeks after other companies had already had the opportunity to bid. He says he learned of the project when a councilmember called to inform him of it. The council had earlier directed that local companies be specifically invited to submit bids.

Marina Director Mike Singleton, who handled the process, did not advertise for bids, but, after researching companies online, says he identified five potential interested bidders and verbally invited each to submit bids. There were no written bid specifications given to any company, he told The St. Ignace News Monday, September 25. As a result, bids varied in quality and quantity of materials proposed, and in costs.

Upon learning of the project July 14, Mr. McDonald said, his company went down to the marina to get project information so it could put together a quote. Mr. McDonald emailed the quote to the marina and was advised that the city had received the quote.

He says he heard nothing more about the project until September 5, when the materials from Standale Lumber were delivered to the marina. Frustrated with the lack of communication, Mr. McDonald went to City Hall for more information. September 8, Marina Director Mike Singleton handed Mr. McDonald the winning bid with all of the pricing blacked out and asked him if he could offer a quote for the same materials.

“If we had known before exactly what they wanted,” said Mr. McDonald, “we would have given them a quote for those exact materials.”

After putting together that second quote, Mr. McDonald says he delivered it directly to City Manager Les Therrian. At that point, however, the materials had already been delivered and the city would likely have incurred significant cost to ship the materials back. Mr. Mc- Donald said he was not asking the council to consider that.

He wrote the letter to the council expressing his frustration with the process, and council discussed the letter at its meeting September 18. Mr. Singleton was not in attendance. The item was added to the agenda at the meeting and was not on the original agenda, and Mr. Singleton later told The St. Ignace News that had he known the issue was going to be addressed, he would have made sure to be there.

Mr. Singleton continues to maintain that Straits Building Center was one of five companies that were personally contacted to submit a bid at the onset of the project and he does not agree with Mr. McDonald’s assertion that they were not given a fair opportunity. He says that when the project was approved, he contacted each of the companies for bids, including local companies Straits Building Center and Flotation Docking Systems of Cedarville, who provided the materials for the dock when it was built in 2003. All invited companies submitted bids.

He says none of the companies received written specifications of the project, but that he verbally described, in detail, the scope of the project to each.

“We told them all exactly what we wanted,” said Mr. Singleton.

The decision to choose Standale’s bid, he said, was based on a number of factors, including the type and quality of lumber, a donation of more than $2,600 in equipment, free shipping, free training for the equipment, and promotion on the company’s Web site.

City Manager Therrian has denied that he gave Mr. Singleton the go-ahead to choose the bid of Standale Lumber. According to city policy, the approval should have come from the city council. Council was considering the matter, but had not yet selected a bid.

In response to the situation, the council resolved last week to issue a formal letter of apology to Straits Building Center and to redistribute the city’s bid policy to every department head to avoid a similar situation happening in the future.

Mr. McDonald said Straits Building Center is not seeking any further action, but simply wants to put this situation behind them and move on.

“I just don’t want people thinking that we didn’t do our due diligence, because we did,” he told the newspaper.

A $47,000 grant from Enbridge Energy is paying for the project to replace the wooden planks on the dock. Enbridge was not involved in the bid selection process, Mr. Singleton said. The work began Thursday, September 21.

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