Firm contests bidding process, seeks to stop construction
By James M. Odato
Add litigation costs to the price of a new Lake Placid headquarters for the Olympic Regional Development Authority.
A Lake George firm lodged a suit last week against ORDA seeking to halt the project as workers pour concrete and build a foundation for the new administration building.
Cutting Edge Group LLC’s suit in state Supreme Court seeks to annul the contract, complaining that ORDA chose a more expensive contractor, Bast Hatfield, of Clifton Park. A state judge ordered a hearing for Oct. 15 to allow Cutting Edge to argue why the contract should be rendered invalid and either awarded to it or rebid.
Besides adding costs to defend itself, the controversy could throw off ORDA’s schedule on the proposed three-story, 26,500-square foot space to house the public authority.
ORDA, which manages New York’s Nordic and alpine venues, has envisioned $23.1 million in construction projects to be concluded by the January 2023 scheduled start of the World University Games.
Among the projects that don’t involve sports competition and training facilities, ORDA management planned to build new quarters to replace offices in the Olympic Center near the speed skating oval in downtown Lake Placid. The building Bast Hatfield began constructing in August is on the outskirts of the village at the site of a former hospital, the Adirondack Medical Center.
Cutting Edge, a 21-year-old company, was the lowest bidder among seven vying for the work. Its base bid of $7,093,000 came in below Bast Hatfield’s $7,118,500 for general construction. If other costs are included, such as the price submitted as an alternate for a covered parking lot, Bast Hatfield’s bid fell to $26,500 lower, said Andrew James Lomnes, executive vice president of the Saratoga County firm.
BID DOCUMENTS: Click here for the bid results
Cutting Edge complains in its suit that ORDA disqualified the company because it did not satisfy requirements of having completed three projects similar to the administration building job and didn’t prove its construction management team had “specialized expertise” needed.
The company sought to show its eligibility by listing two former ORDA contracts it secured. In 2017, it won $4 million in contracts as the general and mechanical contractor on the expansion of the ORDA-managed Gore Mountain downhill center. In 2019, it won the $3.5 million deal to construct two steel frame additions to the USA Luge Association building and training center. It also noted its $11 million contract with the Army Corps of Engineers to convert a hospital for Covid-19 patient treatment, and its $2.5 million project to build the War Cannon Spirits tasting room and event space in Crown Point.
Besides that, the state comptroller lists 18 contracts awarded to Cutting Edge Group with state agencies, including eleven with the Department of Environmental Conservation, to construct buildings.
The authority’s requirement for work experience, Cutting Edge argues, is irrational and not in the interest of the public and its call for management credentials is ambiguous.
The company also names Bast Hatfield in its suit. It was denied a request by the court to direct the winning bidder to refrain from performing work.
Lomnes said his firm was unaware of the litigation. “We had to go through the same qualification process,” he said. “We weren’t involved in any analysis of Cutting Edge’s qualifications.”
ORDA officials did not comment to the Adirondack Explorer, although a spokeswoman said inquiries were directed to counsel. Chief Executive Michael Pratt explained in April that the authority desires the new administration building because its staff is scattered throughout the Olympic Center. He described staff using locker areas, conference rooms, and space that would be better for “guest experiences.”
Bast Hatfield has received 14 state contracts, although a state archive does not indicate any were to construct buildings. Unlike Cutting Edge, Bast Hatfield is a generous campaign contributor, particularly to Republican candidates. For example, Bast Hatfield donated $1,325 to former state senator Betty Little’s political accounts from 2009 through 2019. The Queensbury Republican is a member of the ORDA board of directors.