By Tony E. Windsor

The town of Laurel has fallen victim to rising costs associated with addressing capital projects in the community. During the most recent Mayor and Council meeting, Town Manager Jamie Smith shared information about a project planned for doing “green infrastructure” on the property of the Paul Laurence Dunbar Community Center, which currently houses the Telemon Early Education Center and is the future home of the Laurel Police Department.

Known as a natural solution for the drainage, heat, air and water quality problems communities face on commercial properties, green infrastructure is defined as an inter-connected network of open, green spaces that provide a range of ecosystem services. The goal of green infrastructure is creating healthier environments through landscape projects that deliver a sustainable return on investment.

Smith told Mayor and Council that last year the town received grant funding in the amount of $100,000 to do the project at Dunbar. In February, the town went out to bid for the project, but received no bids. The project was then put out for bid a second time and produced one bid proposal.

On March 24, the town’s engineers at George, Miles & Buhr (GMB), Inc., notified Smith that a single bid was submitted by Chesapeake Turf, LLC in the amount of $159,955. 

GMB engineers reviewed the proposal and found it addressed all necessary requirements for the project bid solicitation. Engineers recommended that the town accept the bid from Chesapeake Turf given the deadline of May 15, to expense the grant, or face returning as much as $90,000 of the funding.

Smith told the council that she requested an extension for the grant deadline, but was denied. Her recommendation was that the town work with its engineers and do as much of the green infrastructure project as funding will allow. 

“We will award the bid to Chesapeake Turf with the stipulation that work does not exceed $100,000,” she said. Smith said the town will also seek additional funding to meet the additional $59,955 to complete the project.

Councilwoman Cheryl Martin said she would not be in support of the bid award unless the stipulation regarding the maximum expense of $100,000 be made in writing. “I am concerned about our exposure,” Martin said. “I would like to see a guarantee in writing that they will not exceed the $100,000 we have available.”

Smith assured her that Chesapeake Turf is aware of the stipulation and a modification will be made to the Dunbar project specifications to ensure there is an agreement to adhere to the $100,000 cost maximum.

The Council approved the award of the bid unanimously.