Another Failed Shot at Bid To Repair Roller Rink

'Fatal flaw' in bid paperwork reportedly makes it impossible to award contract to repair roller rink.

This time, a "fatal flaw" in the documents filed with bids for a project to repair and resurface the padlocked roller rink at Harry Dunham Park has made it impossible for the Township Committee to hire a contractor to do the job.

Bernards Township Administrator Bruce McArthur on Thursday said he expects the township will for the third time seek bids for the project to repair the cracked roller rink, which also has drainage problems. The rink, visible from Somerville Road, has been locked up since last summer.

Because of incompletely filled out paperwork with both the first and second lowest bids, the Township Committee did not even vote at its Tuesday meeting on whether to hire a contractor to do the job.

The goal, discussed at a previous meeting in July was to have the project completed before the cold weather–a timeline that McArthur said the township now has "pretty slim" odds for meeting. Potentially, he said that even if a contract is awarded this year, a contractor might receive permission to finish the job in the spring.

In July, the Township Committee rejected a bid of $142,297 to overhaul the drainage system and resurface the cracked roller rink as too expensive. The committee earlier this year set a limit of $125,000 to spend on a contract for the job.

The low bid received this time was about $151,000–but McArthur said he would have recommended that the committee have awarded the bid for that amount.

The last set of bids came in with the assumption that the township's own Department of Public Works would perform part of the preparation of the site. But McArthur said the DPW now is shorthanded. He said he would have recommended that the amount above $125,000 be supplemented by a surplus in the salary account for the understaffed DPW, he said on Thursday.

McArthur said there is no guarantee the same bidders will seek the job if another set of bids is prepared quickly.

The project has been under discussion on-and-off for much of the year. A proposal to overhaul the closed roller rink was originally set at a maximum , but maximum was reduced by the Township Committee to $125,000 in March, following some public input complaining that the cost was too high.

Some members of the public have urged the Township Committee to redo the surface of the rink with interlocking tiles, used in some other rinks, rather than seeking to resurface the facility with asphalt, as now proposed.

But McArthur said that proposal came in at an even higher cost when the proposal was included as a possible alternate bid in July.

Township Engineer Tom Timko said the July bid package included multiple "alternative" ways of renovating the rink, including the installation of plastic tiles over a concrete surface. Moreover, officials then said the underlying drainage problem must be addressed no matter what the surface.

In July, Timko said the tiles are not a less expensive alternative. He said installation of the tiles in New Jersey all are relatively recent, and the plastic interlocking pieces have not been shown to be able to withstand harsh winters.

"I don't think we want to be pioneers on this," Mayor John Malay said at that time.

Timko said the second bid package was seeking a contractor to install a drainage system around the perimeter of the 15,000-square-foot rink, and then to repave the surface with asphalt.


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