Hospital bids fall near budgeted mark

By Thomas Wilson
star staff

  City of Elizabethton officials are breathing a sigh of relief after most bids for the asbestos removal and demolition of Carter County Memorial Hospital building came within $200,000 of the city's budgeted amount for the project.
  "I'm elated," said David Ornduff, city director of planning and development, who opened bids for the demolition project on Friday afternoon at Elizabethton City Hall. The bid opening brings another step closer to razing a structure that has bedeviled the city government for years.
  Of the 10 bids opened Friday, the D.H. Griffin Wrecking company of Abingdon, Va., submitted the lowest bid of $535,800.
  The Elizabethton City Council budgeted $485,000 to demolish the building as part of a 10-year, $1.25 million capital outlay bond approved earlier this year as part of the city's fiscal year 2005 budget. The bids request included removal of asbestos-containing materials from the hospital, an underground diesel fuel tank on the property, and the building's demolition.
  The second-lowest bid came from DPC General Contractors of Atlanta, Ga., at $545,000, but that submission only covered asbestos removal. Other bidders falling within $150,000 of the city's budgeted capital amount were Tri-Star of America from Norcross, Ga. (bid amount, $619,000) and CRS Demolition of Louisville, Ky. ($639,000).
  Dore & Associations of Bay City, Mich. ($767,000) and Gulf Services Contracting ($663,437) of Mobile, Ala. represent the most geographically distant companies bidding to win the project. Other Tennessee-based companies that submitted bids included AMX Environmental Solutions, E. Luke Greene, B & A Construction, and Environmental Abatement, Inc. Their bids ranged from $688,400 to $884,944.
  With companies from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast vying for the job, Ornduff said he was relieved the amounts received fell with the city's financial expectations for the project.
  "We had bid packets we sent on this thing that were as far away as California," he said. "It is always good to have interest on the project you are bidding than not having any interest at all."
  City staff will now begin a review and verification process to evaluate companies submitting bids. Staff will recommend the lowest responsible bidder to the City Council later this year.
  Ornduff said the evaluation process would likely take up to 60 days. The request for proposal gives the winning bidder 180 days to remove asbestos containing materials and demolish the structure.
  The 96,000 square-foot hospital building sits on a 5.4-acre tract located on West G Street. The city government bought the hospital at public auction in November 2002 for $71,242.75 to pay real property taxes owed to the city and Carter County governments. The city's ownership was finalized in February 2003.
  The S&ME, Inc. environmental services firm surveyed the building for asbestos-containing materials earlier this year. Asbestos-containing materials are primarily found in insulation concentrated around the boiler system and water pipes throughout the hospital, according to the survey. The Environmental Protection Agency requires an asbestos survey to identify interior and exterior asbestos materials in a building prior to demolition.
  Construction on the four-story original hospital building began in the late 1950s. The hospital opened in August 1959. A three-story addition connected to the hospital was built in 1971.
  The city and county maintained joint ownership of the facility until the mid-1980s when the Hospital Corporation of America initiated plans to build a new Carter County facility that is the present day Sycamore Shoals Hospital. The hospital building was effectively abandoned after SSH was completed in 1986.