A losing bidder on the Romig Road street project has dropped a lawsuit against Akron and a second company has so far kept its complaint out of the courts.
Kenmore Construction, which submitted the lowest bid to resurface Romig Road in concrete or asphalt, dropped its lawsuit Monday after alleging less than two weeks ago that the city committed an “abuse of discretion” by disregarding asphalt bids. More than $3 million separates Kenmore Construction's $9.7 million asphalt bid and the winning $12.9 million concrete bid submitted by the Ruhlin Co. of Medina.
Lockhart Concrete Co. of Akron submitted a $12.4 million concrete bid but failed to attach a construction schedule detailing a timeline for completing the work, which paves the way for long-awaited economic development in Kenmore. The stretch of Romig Road from I-76 to Vernon Odom Boulevard crosses the old Rolling Acres Mall property, which is being redeveloped into a shipping center for 1,000 new jobs. Blueprints for the $100 million investment point to Amazon.
Concrete lasts longer but costs the city more upfront. And the city says asphalt can't be laid in low temperatures during the winter, although Kenmore Construction said it could be done on time. The concrete on Romig Road has lasted 45 years. Most seams between the slabs of rock and cement are now patched with asphalt.
At the former Rolling Acres Mall site, everything owned by the developer has been torn down. All that remains is Pinnacle Recycling to the immediate north. The company continues to operate in the old Sears, which closed three years after the mall folded in 2008.
Kenmore and its attorney did not return phone calls seeking comment this week about why the asphalt company had dropped its lawsuit on Monday. The company has several current contracts with the city, including the rebuilding of Main Street downtown.
In a protest letter sent last week to Akron Public Service Director John Moore, Lockhart Concrete objected to losing the contract and admitted it had “inadvertently omitted” the construction schedule in its bid package. Timing is critical as Amazon must start building its 695,383-square-foot facility soon to hit deadlines tied to local property tax breaks.
Attorney Aaron Ridenbaugh, who drafted Lockhart's protest letter, said Tuesday that he would be consulting with his client about possible next steps. “If we're going to do something, it will happen shortly,” Ridenbaugh said.
In a second letter sent Tuesday to Council President Margo Sommerville, the company again asserted that the city gave the false impression that all the necessary paperwork, including the construction schedule, had been received because a city engineer asked Lockhart to be prepared to review the entire bid package. The "simple oversight," company secretary Sheena Lockhart wrote, "surely cannot constitute spending almost $500,000 more."
Administrators and Sommerville said the rules for submitting sealed bids are clear. No exceptions are made for missing documents to avoid even the appearance of playing favorites when awarding city contracts.
Reach Doug Livingston at email@example.com or 330-996-3792.