Aldermen delay awarding of convention center bids again

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 14, 2000

Natchez aldermen further delayed awarding bids on the downtown convention center Tuesday as ongoing negotiations with contractors attempt to bring the cost in line with projections.

At its Oct. 24 meeting, the board voted unanimously to take the bids under advisement until Tuesday’s Nov. 14 meeting. Though higher than expected, the bids were within the 10 percent &uot;negotiable range.&uot;

After striking the awarding of bids from the agenda Tuesday the aldermen recessed until 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, when they expect to award the bids.

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&uot;It’s a big project, and we want to get it right,&uot; Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith said. &uot;With another week of reviewing, we think we can get these bids to where they need to be.&uot;

&uot;We’re still in the negotiating phase,&uot; said City Engineer David Gardner. &uot;We feel we can’t make the best decision for the city this week.&uot;

Gardner called the negotiations &uot;very successful&uot; and said project architects Waycaster and Associates and coordinating contractor Carothers Construction have met with bidding contractors several times to discuss the bids &uot;line by line.&uot;

For example, officials are considering bidding out construction of sidewalks as a separate contract to save on sub-contracting costs, Gardner said.

The delay will push the construction schedule back a few weeks, but Gardner said he would rather save the city money.

Walter Tipton, tourism director, said booking for conventions will not be affected by the aldermen’s decision to put off awarding of bids.

&uot;I understood going into this that this was going to be a moving target,&uot; Tipton said. No conventions are booked for the center until March 2002.

Based on a 13-month construction schedule, the convention center was set for completion in late 2001 to early 2002.

Since &uot;convention season&uot; does not begin until March each year, Tipton said a later completion date will leave less &uot;down time&uot; before the first booked convention.

City Attorney Walter Brown said officials decided to postpone the awarding of bids &uot;rather than rush it, so we would know absolutely what the final numbers are.&uot;