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Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2007 05:59 pm

Back to square one

Pittman questions health-department decision

Untitled Document After plans to construct a county health-facilities building met several roadblocks, Springfield developer Mike Pittman, who initially entered a bid to develop the project, now says he no longer wants any part of it. Earlier this month, the Sangamon County Board voted to cut off negotiations with the original winning bidder, Springfield East Venture, to construct the $7 million building after the two sides could not settle on a price. Pittman’s offer of $9.7 million was the second lowest after Springfield East Venture’s bid of $6.2 million. A third company, South Grand & Associates, backed by Prairieland Development owner Larry Quinn, submitted the final bid of $10.2 million. The proposed building would enable the county to consolidate three operations into one. The health department now runs facilities at 3130 Chatham Rd., 1415 E. Jefferson St., and its headquarters, 2501 N. Dirksen Pkwy. Pittman believes that as the next-lowest bidder, his company, Pittman Enterprises, should have been awarded the job automatically. “The whole thing stinks. There was no transparency, in my opinion,” he says. County administrator Ryan McCrady says that going back to Pittman or Quinn did not make sense because so much time has elapsed since May, the original deadline for bids.
Instead, the county will now issue a new set of requests — the first for a piece of land that is either vacant or has buildings on it that can be demolished and a second one for the building’s construction. McCrady says that breaking the project into two parts will attract interest from more firms.
Quinn, who hasn’t decided whether he will bid again, says he believes that the county’s decision to start from scratch is prudent.
“The county did everything appropriately. They thought they had a good facility at a low price, and that’s good government,” he says. The building will have space for everything from core services such as immunizations and disease testing to health education, veterinary services, laboratory facilities, and the human resources and business offices. McCrady says that he expects the project to be completed by the end of 2008.
Contact R.L. Nave at rnave@illinoistimes.com
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