Ocean Grove’s North End boardwalk will still be repaired this fall but using a new contractor after a potential legal dispute made the Township Committee re-award the contract.
“Everything required was not submitted (by the winning contractor) and, obviously, we cannot award the contract,” Committeeman Eric Houghtaling said at a special meeting Monday evening.
On Aug. 24, the Township Committee awarded a $609,200 contract to Epic Management Inc., based in Piscataway, who was the lowest bidder for the boardwalk project, which is expected to begin in late September and take 30 to 45 days, depending on the weather.
On Aug. 25, a bid protest letter was received from Bird Construction, the second lowest bidder, charging that Epic Management failed to submit Responsible Contractor Certifications for its subcontractors as required for in the township ordinance, which is based on state law.
Township Attorney Gene Anthony earlier determined that Epic failed to submit the proper certifications for two subcontractors and is therefore nonresponsive to the bid.
However, when a resolution to award a $622,739 contract to Bird Construction, based in Bayville, was introduced at the last Township Committee meeting there was no second to the resolution – so no action was taken until Monday’s special meeting where the contract was awarded to Bird.
Township Attorney Gene Anthony said the protest by Bird may “bring out something fatal” and that the governing body needs to decide the basis of the protest being filed. Filing a protest is one of the first steps taken if a company wants to take legal action on a contract.
“I have no preference (on a contractor) as long as the job gets done,” said J.P. Gradone, Executive Director/Chief Operations Officer for the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA).
Neptune Business Administrator Vito Gadaleta said he does not expect the change in contractors to delay the project, which is supposed to begin within the next few weeks.
The North End boardwalk project will redo the boardwalk from the Surf Avenue street access north to the Asbury Park border. The boardwalk will not only be replaced but also widened.
After Hurricane Irene in 1992, the original 30-foot boardwalk was reduced to 20 feet when rebuilt. The boardwalk is now being expanded back to its original 30-foot width with an even wider area in front of the large commercial building at the northern end.
“It was a Camp Meeting Association decision to widen the boardwalk, not FEMA,” Gradone said previously.
The OGCMA expects to be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for 90 percent of the project’s cost. Any money received from FEMA must go directly to pay down the bond, which is issued to the township, not to the OGCMA.