WORCESTER, Mass. - A communication breakdown at City Hall caused some confusion this spring surrounding the awarding of the electrical contract bid on the Doherty Memorial High School replacement project in Worcester, officials said.
Former City Manager Edward Augustus had stated more than once over the first three weeks of May the electrical bid hadn’t been awarded yet, but a records request provided to Spectrum News 1 earlier this month shows the awarded bid was executed on April 28 to Wayne J. Griffin Electric Inc. for $30.6 million.
In an interview last week, Julie Lynch, the city’s chief of public facilities, said there was a delay in communication between her office and the city manager’s office regarding the awarded electrical bid.
Lynch blamed the confusion on poor communication, and that Deputy Chief of Public Facilities Russ Adams was away from the office in late April and early May.
“There are days that go by before an answer is given (from the public facilities office to the city manager’s office) and by that time the answer is out of date,” she said.
According to a timeline provided by Lynch, the filed sub-bids closed on the Doherty High project on March 2. Initially, the project received two bids from Griffin and Ostrow Electric Company.
Ostrow was the low bidder on the contract, but following a protest by Griffin in April, Ostrow was disqualified by the Attorney General’s Office for listing a supplier who wouldn’t be performing labor on the school’s new public address system.
Ostrow filed a suit against Griffin in court, which was ultimately thrown out, according to Lynch.
When the sub-bid was awarded to Griffin by the project’s general contractor, Fontaine Brothers Inc., on April 28, Lynch said her office wasn’t aware of it because they weren’t at the meeting.
Lynch and Adams didn’t confirm the bid was awarded until May 4, which is the same day a source close to the Doherty High project informed Spectrum News 1 the electrical bid on the Doherty High project hadn’t been awarded yet. On May 6, in an email response to a media request, Augustus’ office said the “bid had not yet been awarded.”
A week later, on May 13, Augustus said in an on-camera interview with Spectrum News 1 at the Worcester Senior Center the bid hadn’t been awarded yet and the city was still negotiating with the “high bidder,” that being Griffin Electric who by then was the sole bidder on the job.
“What (Augustus) should have said was ‘We don’t know, let’s pick up the phone and call (Adams) or (Lynch).’ But that’s not what happened,” Lynch said. “Poor, poor, poor communication and we can do a lot better on our end.”
The following week, on May 16, Spectrum News 1 learned the bid had been awarded to Griffin Electric. And on May 20, Augustus’ office confirmed they had accepted Griffin’s bid, avoiding a re-bid of the contract.
The new Doherty High School is expected to open in time for the start of the 2024-2025 school year.