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Board approves new bids for Wellwood capital project

The Fayetteville-Manlius School District Board of Education had given approval to the final stage of the 2017 voter-approved capital project approval in February; however, in March, the superintendent of schools asked the board to rescind its bid approvals and approve new submissions due to a clerical error. 

“It was an honest mistake,” Superintendent Craig J. Tice said. “We publicized the bids in a number of online trade journals and other sources but inadvertently did not send the notice to the district’s official newspapers of record, which is required by law.”

In February, the district had received bids from about 20 different companies, and on Feb. 24 the board awarded bids in the amount of $25.6 million for the largest portion of the $45.2 million total project, which will take place at Wellwood Middle School. 

Because the notice was not published in the Eagle Bulletin nor The Post-Standard, the district’s official newspapers of record, the board rescinded its bid acceptances at its March 9 meeting and re-published its request for proposals, Tice said.  

“While the community may be tolerant and forgive an honest mistake, they would not be very understanding if we refused to hold ourselves accountable” Tice said. “To that end, we published a new set of notices in all of the same online publications, as well as the Eagle Bulletin and The Post- Standard. During the second bidding process, about a dozen different companies submitted bids in the expedited and streamlined bid process.”

At its regularly-scheduled meeting on March 23, the board approved bids in the amount of $24.9 million, which represents an approximate $728,000 savings as compared to the original bids.  

Of the five original prime contractors who were awarded bids in February, three remain (Erie Mechanical, Airside Technology and Patricia Electric) as the lowest bidders for plumbing, HVAC and electrical. 

As a result of the new bidding process in March, two new prime contractors (C&S Companies and Cunningham Excavation) will join the Wellwood capital project team for general construction and various site improvements (enlarged bus loop, expanded parking lot, relocated athletic fields and new sidewalks). 

The work encompassed by these bids will complete the final stages of the 2017-approved capital project. The total project includes an addition at Enders Road Elementary, which was completed in September, and a renovation of F-M High School’s bathrooms and library media center, which students and staff began using in November. The project also includes energy efficiency improvements district wide, such as new lighting that was installed at the high school athletic stadium. 

At Wellwood, the district’s oldest building with portions dating back to 1933, construction will include a 15,000-square-foot addition and new main entrance facing Fayetteville Elementary School, creation of a new, enlarged parking lot in front of the addition, new athletic fields and renovations to existing classrooms, including asbestos abatement and infrastructure upgrades.

Pre-construction work has already begun at Wellwood, with groundbreaking for the new addition and entryway anticipated later this spring. Construction is still expected to be complete in September 2022.

“Even with a slight delay in the start of this portion of the project, we believe we have built in enough of a buffer with the initial project timeline that construction will be completed on time,” Tice said. “We will continue to update the community on the project’s progress as it moves forward and look forward to celebrating the completion of our new state-of-the-art learning spaces.”