Opa-locka commissioners have approved a construction company to handle the first phase of their Historic City Hall renovation efforts.
The City Commission decided on Feb. 26 to award the contract to Grace & Naeem Uddin after some commissioners expressed concerns about the contractor that was initially awarded the bid, Remediation Inc.
Separately, the commission voted to approve MC Harry & Associates as the company to handle the architectural and engineering services for the building’s renovation.
Commissioners voted 3-2 to reject Remediation Inc., and voted 3-2 to award the contract to Grace & Naeem. Mayor Myra Taylor and Commissioner Timothy Holmes voted in support for Remediation Inc.
Remediation offered a price of about $188,000, while Grace & Naeem’s bid was about $297,000.
Vice Mayor Joseph Kelley said that he had doubts about Remediation Inc. because in past projects they have put in multiple change orders and asked for additional money. He said he felt more comfortable with Grace & Naeem because they seemed to place more emphasis on bringing jobs to Opa-locka residents.
“As long as I’m here I’m going to always favor those who are willing to spend dollars here with our local businesses and hire local citizens to do some of this work,” Kelley said. “They took their time to know what this commission is looking for.”
Commissioner Dorothy Johnson also said she was concerned about the bidding process and wants the city manager to look into bringing in outside people to participate in the evaluation committees.
The city has had issues with its bidding process in the past. The city was sued by its former trash collection company, Progressive Waste, over the bid process that led to its awarding a trash-collection contract to Ecological Paper Recycling. Progressive’s request for an injunction to stop the deal was denied in court.
City Manager Kelvin Baker recognized those past issues and said that Miami-Dade County’s “Cone of Silence” laws have prevented him from reaching out to outsiders. The ordinance prevents communication with potential consultants during the request-for-proposals period. It is lifted when the city manager makes his recommendation to the commission.
“I am working to pull some professionals from the community from various firms to sit on our committees with our staff,” Baker said. “If that’s violated you’ve got a big ethics issue and it puts the whole property in jeopardy.”
The first phase of the project will involve construction to prevent further decay of the building, rehabbing the administrative building, other interior finishes and work on the building’s mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems.
The funding for the project comes from a $2 million county grant through the “Building Better Communities” general obligation bond project. The building’s rehabilitation could be completed as soon as December.