Back to the drawing board on Steele HVAC bids

By Jason Hawk -

First, the good news: Taxpayers will save $250,000 on a summer heating and cooling project at Nord Middle School.

The winning bid by Bay Mechanical and Electrical of Lorain to revamp the Lincoln Street school’s HVAC system came in at just over $1.2 million, far below expectations.

Now for the bad news: The lone bid to do the same kind of furnace and air conditioning work at Steele High School came in $600,000 over estimates.

Westland Heating and Air out of Westlake had asked for $2.9 million to do the work.

Rather than taking the hit to its construction budget, the Amherst board of education chose Monday to reject the bid and look for another contractor either in the late summer or early fall.

That will mean delaying the HVAC project at the high school for a year but hopefully will result in a more competitive bidding market.

“We did not feel comfortable in recommending that bid be approved,” district superintendent Steven Sayers said.

He broke the news to educators prior to the board’s meeting. Teachers and staff — some of whom work in parts of the building subject to intense heat on hot days and freezing temps on others — were disappointed but understood the board’s financial constraints, he said.

The heating and cooling projects are bundled as part of the nearly $18 million bond issue approved by Amherst Schools voters in November.

The bulk of that money will go toward construction of the new Powers Elementary School on South Lake Street. The state has pledged to cover $14 million (14.2 percent) of the construction budget.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk