WESTPORT – Facing a challenge against the bidding for a Town Hall wind turbine contract, town officials Tuesday defended the process used for selecting the builder.
Veronica F. Beaulieu, the former selectmen chairwoman, filed a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office May 23, charging the new contract with the builder violated the rules for awarding contracts by changing the project’s scope without giving other companies a chance to bid on the new proposal.
The town followed correct procedures in awarding the job to the contractor, Steve Pitney, said Town Administrator Michael J. Coughlin.
“The town fully expects the attorney general to resolve this bid protest in an expeditious fashion,” Mr. Coughlin said. “This has been a highly contentious issue, but the attorney general’s review is strictly based on process and procedure.”
If the AG’s office finds a flaw in the process, it can order the town to seek bids again, he said.
The AG’s office scheduled a hearing Tuesday in Boston and asked for a suspension of work pending a decision on the complaint, according to a May 28 letter from Patrick M. Faherty Jr., a paralegal in the bid protest unit.
Last month, selectmen approved a revised contract for a 120-foot turbine, ending an eight-month impasse over the terms. The $63,400 project is contingent on the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative approving a $45,000 rebate, so the town could recoup most of the cost.
Ms. Beaulieu asserted in her complaint that the new contract reached between selectmen and Mr. Pitney changed the project’s scope, as described when advertised in March 2007.
“We feel there may be a problem, since the terms of the original (request for proposal) have been changed and no other company had the opportunity to bid on the newest proposal,” she wrote in her complaint, which she said she filed on behalf of town residents.
In the complaint and interviews, Ms. Beaulieu cited several changes: The original deadline for completion was Feb. 1; the turbine was supposed to power the Town Hall, rather than the nearby highway department as now planned; and the town’s highway surveyor will be laying the cement foundation, rather than the contractor.
David P. Dionne, chairman of the Westport Alternative Energy Committee, said the turbine is to be built in the same location as planned, and he does not believe the changes alter the nature of the project. He also said the foundation work was always meant to be shared by the town and the contractor.
“We have worked diligently to make this happen,” Mr. Dionne said. “We think it’s a good thing. We will continue to work to make it happen. I think it’s the will of the people, and I continue to be hopeful.”
By Brian Boyd
Standard-Times staff writer
4 June 2008
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