Water tank spat lands in court
By By Suzanne Monk/The Meridian Star
June 8, 2001
Landmark Structures, the contractor that lost out in the bidding to build a million-gallon water tank in North Meridian, has asked a Lauderdale County judge to force the Meridian City Council to reverse its decision.
The council awarded the contract May 15 to Caldwell Tanks, which submitted a low bid of $1,261,000. Landmark's bid was $1,313,000 a difference of $52,000.
Landmark Vice President Eric Lamon protested the award in May, claiming that Caldwell hadn't played by the rules.
The bid specifications called for the hollow concrete cylinder that will support the steel tank to be poured in 6 to 12 foot sections. Caldwell's bid proposed 4-foot sections, reported to be a key element enabling Caldwell to submit a slightly lower bid.
What the engineer says
Bob Borneman of Malcolm Pirnie Inc., which designed the water tower's specifications, said Thursday the difference in the two construction methods is cosmetic, not structural.
Poured concrete dries with small surface irregularities. The forms it is poured into usually include patterns to give the finished tower texture and hide the imperfections. Towers poured in longer sections, Borneman said, tend to be better-looking because they are made of fewer rings.
The 4-foot forms proposed by Caldwell save money by making some construction steps unnecessary.
Borneman said the discrepancy between the two bids was pointed out to council members.
What Landmark says
Landmark officials said they bid on what city officials said they wanted.
The law firm wrote a letter to Borneman just before the city council awarded the contract.
The appeal filed earlier this month by Landmark officials asks Circuit Judge Larry Roberts to declare their company the only true, responsive bidder.
What city officials say
Bill Hammack, attorney for the city of Meridian, said Landmark's appeal documents will be completed today when city officials file an official copy of the May 15 minutes of the Meridian City Council.
Hammack said the city's Notice to Bidders clearly states the council's right to accept Caldwell's bid: "The City of Meridian reserves the right to reject any and all bids, waive technicalities, informalities or irregularities in the bids received, solicit new bids or choose that bid which is deemed to be in the best interest of the City of Meridian."
The next step in the process is for Roberts to set a hearing, either in person or by phone, between the opposing sides.
Suzanne Monk is managing editor of The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3229, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cylinder will be 45 feet in diameter, 8 to 16 inches thick and 100 feet tall. The cylinder is created in segments by pouring concrete into ring-shaped "forms," allowing it to set, extending the ring-shaped form and then pouring another segment on top of the one that has cured.
At the heart of the discrepancy between the bids from Landmark Structures and Caldwell Tanks is how deep each of those segments will be. Landmark submitted a bid to pour the cylinder in 6-foot forms. Caldwell's bid called for 4-foot forms.