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Aldermen vote to reverse decision on parking garage contractor – with conditions

The Oxford Board of Aldermen voted to reinstate Shaw Services as a prime contractor on the downtown parking garage project, a turnaround after voting on Sept. 11 to withdraw acceptance of the contractor’s bid due to failure to secure a payment and performance bond.

Matters changed Tuesday morning when city attorney Pope Mallette received a letter from Nielson, Wojtowicz, Neu & Associates, the Florida-based surety business development manager hired by Shaw Services.

“(Shaw) said they’d have (the bond) by late last week, and they didn’t,” Mallette said to the aldermen. “You allowed to advertise, and in the meantime, Shaw Services continued to try to secure a payment and performance bond.”

After a lengthy discussion, it was determined by the aldermen that the best course of action was to give Shaw Services one last chance to provide the state-mandated necessary documents in order to be reinstated. Shaw’s portion of the project was what public works director Bart Robinson called the “lion’s share” of the work during the Sept. 11 special meeting, including dirt work, the foundation, concrete slabs on each floor and the surface parking lot. Shaw Services’ $3.4 million bid was also approximately $1.25 million less than its competitors.

“Please consider this email confirmation that Shaw Services, LLC has satisfied all conditions of their bond approval…,” the letter from Nielson, Wojtowicz, Neu & Associates read. “We will be in a position to have their bonds issued (Wednesday) at the deadline given.”

The deadline, Mallette specified, is Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Because Shaw Services was unsure of the decision the aldermen would make prior to the meeting, they were unable to provide a physical copy of the bond by the meeting.

“They have a little bit of a chicken-and-egg problem,” Mallette said. “That is, they couldn’t provide you the bond tonight in hand, because they didn’t know whether or not you all would rescind your revocation of acceptance.”

After a brief discussion, the aldermen voted to reverse their decision to withdraw acceptance of Shaw Services’ bid, contingent upon meeting the deadline. However, if Shaw and the surety fail to provide an emailed copy of the payment and performance bond by 3 p.m. Wednesday, followed by an official physical copy of the document by Thursday at noon, the City will proceed with its decision to advertise bids. If they do meet the deadlines, Public Works will notify those who advertised that those advertisements are no longer needed.

Should matters move as quickly as possible, Oxonians could see construction beginning by Nov. 1. However, Robinson said on Sept. 11 that scenario isn’t likely, as the board also has to consider the fact that the parking garage is a 12-month project and the fact that it is football season.

In the meantime, the future parking garage lot is open, as are the other free lots opened by the City in preparation for construction.