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Water tower dispute gets more complicated

By By Suzanne Monk/The Meridian Star
July 20, 2001
A legal dispute over construction of a water tower in North Meridian got more complicated during a hearing Thursday afternoon, when winning bidder Caldwell Tanks was allowed to intervene in an appeal filed by losing bidder Landmark Structures.
Circuit Judge Larry Roberts' ruling means that Caldwell will be a full participant in all future proceedings.
City attorney Bill Hammack said he doesn't care who participates in the court proceedings as long as it doesn't delay the project any further.
Problems arose with the contract for the million-gallon water tower almost as soon as it was awarded on May 15.
The lowest of the four bids, submitted by Caldwell Tanks, was $1.261 million. The next-highest bidder, Landmark Structures, claimed Caldwell had ignored the bid specifications allowing them to gain a $52,000 edge on the competition.
The difference in the two bids lies in how the concrete will be cast. The water tower design calls for a million-gallon steel tank supported by a 100-foot concrete cylinder.
The city's bid specifications called for the cylinder's ring-shaped components to be cast in 6- to 12-foot sections. Caldwell proposed to cast the rings in 4-foot sections eliminating the need for special handling and saving money.
Landmark officials said Caldwell's bid should be thrown out.
Unable to sway city officials, Landmark filed an appeal in June in Lauderdale County Circuit Court, asking a judge to force the Meridian City Council to reverse its decision.
All six attorneys present at Thursday's hearing agreed to expedite the legal process as much as possible, but hearings and arguments will continue through much of August and subsequent appeals are possible.
The next deadline is Aug. 10, when Roberts will consider written arguments from Landmark. Briefs from the city of Meridian and Caldwell are due Aug. 17. Landmark will have the option to submit a rebuttal on Aug. 22.
Suzanne Monk is managing editor of The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3229, or e-mail her at smonk@themeridianstar.com.

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