Harborwalk renovation's pre-bid meet set for Tuesday

The first renovation of the Georgetown Harborwalk in nearly 20 years is only a couple weeks away from being bid.

But before that happens, companies will have to attend a mandatory pre-bid meeting to survey the site and talk with the engineer.

And "mandatory means mandatory," said Chris Eldridge, the Georgetown city administrator.

He said bids will only be considered from companies that show up at the meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Eldridge said the pre-bid meeting is being held so everyone has the chance to ask questions and receive the same information from the engineer.

Companies will have a chance to walk the existing Harborwalk to get familiar with the type of structure and work involved, according to bid documents.

The renovation includes new deck boards, handrails and lighting.

Bid documents specify that the current yellow pine deck boards will be replaced with Ipe boards, from the wood of a Brazilian tree, and the current pipe handrail system will be replaced with a wire rope system.

Council approved those specifications at a June 17 meeting as part of the budget.

But before that approval council members had concerns about the changes.

Councilwomen Peggy Wayne and Jeanette Ard were worried about how the cable handrails would affect businesses on the Harborwalk. In the past, businesses paid to put up matching handrails leading from their businesses to the Harborwalk.

Ard owns Colonial Florist cafe and ice cream shop along the Harborwalk.

"I just got through paying for my rails," Ard said.

"It would be a tremendous expense in a down economy to redo the handrails and walkways. We even have balcony rails that match boardwalk, " she said.

Ard also questioned whether Ipe wood was environmentally friendly.

Environmentalists have said the harvesting of Ipe wood has led to deforestation in Brazil.

David B. McSweeny, with Collins Engineers Inc. said Ipe was a good choice for the city.

"Some of those concerns we've tried to head off, such as sustainability and maintenance," McSweeney said. "It is virtually fire-proof. It does not float. Its burn rating is higher than any wood. When it ages it has a silvery patina. Like some of us, it gets better with age."

Early in the design process Collins Engineers said the cost to repair the boardwalk was less than $400,000 but council approved spending $600,000 for the project.

Eldridge said the project has a budget of $400,000 to $600,000.

The bid will be awarded based on cost, the contractor's experience, and other factors, according to bid documents.

The price of the overall work, a detailed list of the cost of materials, and at least three references for similar prior work are required, according to bid documents.

Bids are due by Sept. 14 at 3 p.m. Eldridge said.

At 3:01 p.m. the bids will be opened at a meeting with the bidders, Eldridge, Water Utilities Director Lane Mixon and Project Engineer David B. McSweeney.

Eldridge said after the bids are opened they'll have "a good idea" who the bid will go to. But McSweeney will then look over the bids and make sure they meet the qualifications.

Eldridge said the goal is to have a recommendation to make to council by its meeting on Sept. 16.