Council Approves Boardwalk Lumber, Contractor Bids

OCEAN CITY – City Engineer Terry McGean followed up with the Mayor and City Council on the reconstruction of the Boardwalk this week and in one sweep received three votes of approval concerning lumber and contracting.

Two weeks ago, the council discussed Boardwalk lumber and awarded the low bidder, Grasmick Lumber, the bid to supply conventional treated southern yellow pine for phase one of construction.

Phase one of reconstruction includes the Inlet to Somerset Street, and 15th to 27th streets, which is estimated to begin in October and finish by April 2012. Phase two will rebuild the area between Somerset Street to 15th Street and will begin at the end of next summer.

McGean has requested to install one block of the Boardwalk with Timbersil lumber as an experiment looking into the future. Timbersil founder and CEO Karen Slimak presented the Mayor and City Council with the benefits involved in the Timbersil product.

“The key for Timbersil is real insoluble glass inside of the wood, as well as outside and inside of the fibers,” Slimak said.

She explained the benefits to the wood include it is a fire retardant, unaffected by seawater, unaffected by heat, and a barrier to rot, decay or insects, among others.

“We can do the entire project of phase one in two weeks, so we could do this [one block] in a day,” Slimak said. “What you’re talking about is just a truck load, no big deal.”

Timbersil has been in existence for eight years and it has been installed in a list full of structures across the country. Council President Jim Hall still felt the product did not have enough experience for Ocean City’s Boardwalk.

“She has not laid a Boardwalk down for 10 years anywhere in the United States,” he said.

Councilwoman Margaret Pillas asserted the wood Timbersil uses is the same the town has laid on the Boardwalk for years, it is just treated differently.

“The only difference Timbersil has done is taken it to the next level,” she said.

Slimak pointed out that the initial cost may be more expensive but in the long run the maintenance costs are greatly reduced.

“We agree with you that is why we are doing a test run,” Jim Hall said. “But you don’t have enough history … to tell us to spend millions of dollars on it. We would like to try a block and God knows if it does as many things as you say it can do I think in the next phase we will be talking to you.”

McGean explained that once the reconstruction of the Boardwalk is completed all of the decking will be completely new. He said in the future the process to replace the Boardwalk decking is going to be different then the past when the boards were replaced on a “here and there” basis.

“If the block of Timbersil has held up significantly better than the conventional treatment and it does what the Timbersil says … then yes, we could replace it wholesale with Timbersil,” McGean said.

The council voted unanimously to approve the model block of Timbersil.

McGean then presented the council with the opportunity to lock in Grasmisk Lumber’s bid for phase two of the Boardwalk’s reconstruction.

“The structural lumber, again it is the cheapest price I have seen in 20 years, and to be able to lock that in for next year makes a lot of sense,” he said. “If you buy the decking now, you are going to pay 20 percent more than the bid price.”

McGean said to lock in the decking material is a more difficult call because the 20-percent increase would place Grasmick Lumber above the next lowest bidder but added it is still the lowest price seen in years.

McGean also pointed out that if the council approved the structural lumber for next year’s construction the company would still store and deliver at no charge.

The council decided to hold off on the decking lumber and voted unanimously to approve Grasmick Lumber’s low bid for phase two, structural timber only, at the price of $365,325.

The next item on the agenda was the recommendation of bid award for the reconstruction of phase one to the construction company of RBCI, who is located in Easton.

There are five different units of construction included in phase one, and there were 34 bids made, which include individual bids on different units or all units combined.

The low bidder was RBCI in an amount close to $1.1 million. If the package was to be awarded individually, the cost would equal close to $1.4 million.

City staff originally estimated the reconstruction of the Boardwalk to cost $2.2 million. McGean said the biggest cost savings was in demolition.

“In talking with some of the demolition contractors and with the low bidder, they were actually able to find a market for that lumber so their bid price reflects that,” McGean said.

Prior to the vouncil unanimously approving the low bidder of RBCI to reconstruct the entire project, Councilman Doug Cymek said he respected McGean’s recommendation but was concerned the town was putting “all its eggs in one basket.”

“The difference between him [RBCI] and the next low bidder is almost $350,000,” McGean said. “I can buy a lot of aspirin for $350,000. We will keep a close eye on him.”