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WF School Board: Bus Barn parking lot bid approved

The West Fargo School District will be getting a new parking lot for its Bus Barn, but they're going to pay a bit more than expected to build it.

A Moore Engineering engineer's estimate of $80,500, plus five percent contingencies, for a 34-car lot was blow out of the water when Northern Improvement recently came forward with a bid of $114,815.75.

"There's obviously a large difference between the estimate and the actual bid," West Fargo Business Manager Mark Lemer said.

Lemer explained the discrepancies partly were due to "unclear areas" in the bid. For starters, Northern Improvement bid a parking lot capable of handling large, heavy vehicles such as busses, when West Fargo Public Schools only required a lot able to hold automobiles and small trucks.

After some negotiations, Northern Improvement agreed to drop the bid to $96,388.50.

"It's still over, but maybe more manageably over," Lemer said.

"We appreciate the concerns, but understand the need," Board President Karen Nitzkorski said.

Because there was a significant need for parking at the Bus Barn, the board unanimously approved the bid, but not before some discussion on the matter.

Lemer said there was a possibility that, had the board decided to wait until spring, the price would be reduced. But there was no guarantee, and the logistics of 34 vehicles parking along the street during the winter didn't outbalance the need for a parking lot.

"I don't know if the value is $16,000, but there is some value in getting this done now," Superintendent Dr. David Flowers said.

Board member Ben Koppelman questioned why the matter of bidding out a new parking lot hadn't been brought to the board's attention at an earlier date.

"In all likelihood, this issue probably should have been higher in the stack," Lemer said. But the business manager noted he only started at the district in July, and other work, like figuring out the budget, took greater precedence.

The board also asked why Northern Improvement was the only company to bid a price, specifically because three companies had been on the table.

Lemer said the size of the project was relatively small compared to other construction the businesses were accustomed to, and the volume wasn't there. Aggregate Industries said they had too much other work to do, and Border State Paving was worried about the short timeline.

Because the board approved the bid, Northern Improvement was given the green light to begin construction immediately. They are scheduled to complete the lot by Nov. 15.