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ABQ firm disputes ENMU-R construction award

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The renovation of the Automotive-Welding Technology Building, shown in an October 2018 photo, is planned in conjunction with the building of a new Physical Plant facility. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Protest under consideration by hearing officer

A protest has been filed regarding the construction award for the joint project to renovate the automotive-welding structure and build a new physical plant facility on the Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell campus.

The complaint, about both the process and the decision, by Albuquerque construction firm HB Construction Inc. is now before a hearing officer, said ENMU-R President Shawn Powell. He added that a decision is expected by the end of April.

According to ENMU-R policy, the hearing officer is a member of the university’s Administrative Council appointed by the vice president for business affairs, and without an interest in the bid.

That officer can hold a hearing if requested by the parties involved or if he or she deems one necessary, the policy indicates.

University officials indicated that two Albuquerque firms submitted bids on the multimillion-dollar project, with Bradbury Stamm Construction Inc. being awarded the contract.

According to Roswell Daily Record archives, the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) was published as a legal notice on Nov. 11. The bidding closed Nov. 29, according to ENMU-R.

“We had our normal process go forward,” said Powell. “A decision was made, and then the firm that wasn’t selected was notified and they filed a protest.”

According to the RFQ announcement, the cost of construction for the two projects together is estimated at $6,281,000 — $3,296,000 for renovating the existing Automotive-Welding Technology Building and $2,985,000 for the construction of a new physical plant, or maintenance building. The delivery method was construction manager at risk, which means the winning firm guarantees that the project will be completed for a certain amount.

Powell estimated that total project costs, which would include architectural design and other phases, will be about $7.5 million to $8 million. He said $3 million will be paid by the general obligation bonds approved by voters statewide in 2018, while the remaining funds will come from the university’s capital reserves.

The time required to resolve the protest, as well as obtain final approval of the contract from the state Higher Education Department and the Department of Finance and Administration, could mean that the automotive-welding project could be delayed until 2020.

Powell explained that the original plan was for the one-year renovation project to begin in August so that the university could relocate students enrolled in the automotive and welding technology programs to another building before fall classes began.

If construction can’t begin this fall, he said, the project start might need to be delayed until next August.

“We don’t want to jeopardize student learning, so that means we can’t relocate the automotive and welding instruction mid-year or in the middle of a semester,” Powell said.

He said that construction of the physical plant is not tied to the academic calendar, so its start date would have to be determined by the construction firm that receives the contract.

“It would just need to fit into the construction firm’s schedule or timeline,” he said.

A Bradbury Stamm representative chose not to comment, while phone messages left with HB Construction staff were not returned by press time.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.