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YSU hit with lawsuit over parking lot construction

Action seeks to stop award of parking lot construction

YOUNGSTOWN — Marucci & Gaffney Excavating Co. has sued Youngstown State University over an asphalt, surface parking lot construction project on which the company bid, but was not selected.

The project is called the Arlington Parking Facility and will replace the former parking deck on Fifth Avenue between Lincoln Avenue and Arlington Street. The surface lot will have 163 parking spaces.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, alleges the university awarded the contract for construction of the lot to Steel Valley Contractors of Youngstown “in violation of competitive bidding laws and YSU’s request for proposals.”

The project is a “publicly funded public improvement project, which is subject to competitive bidding laws” that require YSU to award the contract to the “lowest responsive and responsible bidder” as detailed in Ohio law, the suit contends.

The suit’s goal is to stop the university from awarding or executing the contract, the suit states.

Awarding the contract to Steel Valley Contractors “would result in a higher price when SVC’s bid is properly tabulated and also sacrifices the integrity of the biding system,” the suit states.

Marucci & Gaffney of Youngstown and Steel Valley Contractors were the only bidders, and both companies submitted bids by the Sept. 14 deadline. Marucci & Gaffney photographed the pricing portion of the SVC bid and provided a copy of the photo with the lawsuit.

The photo shows “multiple material errors and / or omissions” in the bid, the suit states. One error was not including a $25,000 allowance for miscellaneous required landscaping, the suit states. It also noted mathematical errors related to “unit-price extensions” in the SVC bid that it called an “irregularity or deviation” from the bidding requirements.

The suit defined a unit-price extension as “the well recognized in accounting” “unit cost of an item multiplied by the quantity.”

When SVC’s bid price is correctly calculated, its total is $861,981, which is $621 higher than Marucci & Gaffney’s bid, the suit states.

Marucci & Gaffney notified YSU of the issue in a Sept. 20 letter, and the university responded by saying SVC is “honoring its base bid of $810,000 for all of the work on the project,” and the university plans to award the contract to SVC.

The letter, which is attached to the lawsuit, states Steel Valley Contractors’ base bid was $810,000, and Marucci & Gaffney’s base bid was $861,360. It adds the instructions to bidders state the university “shall consider the base bid and the bid amounts for alternate, or alternates, which the owner decides in its sole discretion, to accept.”

The letter states Marucci & Gaffney is asking SVC’s bid be rejected “because of alleged mathematical errors in the calculation of unit-price items.”

But even though unit prices were requested on the bid, “YSU is not considering unit prices in evaluating the bids but is looking solely at the base bid amount,” the letter states.

But that does not account for the missing $25,000 allowance, and YSU’s decision gives SVC a competitive advantage, Marucci & Gaffney’s lawsuit states.

The suit asks a judge to issue a temporary, preliminary and permanent injunction preventing the university from awarding a contract to SVC or any other entity, preventing SVC from performing any work on the project and preventing YSU from making any payment to SVC for work on the project.

It also asks the court to issue a declaratory judgment indicating that YSU’s decision to award the contract to SVC “constitutes an abuse of discretion” and that YSU violated state bidding laws.

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