ALBANY Renovations paving the way for Schenectady County Community College to fill a floor at the Albany County’s offices can now officially begin, after some lawmakers questioned the contractor’s legitimacy.
Legislators approved to award a contract to Wainschaf Associates, Inc., at the Albany County Legislature meeting Monday, June 10, in a 27-9 vote and one abstention. Although the construction company was the lowest bidder of five companies, it will cost taxpayers about $87,000 more than it would have a month ago, when the legislature wanted a re-bid for the project.
The now $584,200 project will cover remodeling on the second floor of the Harold L. Joyce Albany County Office Building at 112 State St. Albany County Executive Dan McCoy has said the new location could draw more than 1,000 commuter students and take the pressure off the county’s reliance on Hudson Valley Community College. Work on the project will begin in July, which is one month later than originally planned, and should be done by this December.
The vote had been delayed one month due to a mandate requiring large construction projects in the county to have apprenticeship programs. The apprenticeship programs provide on-the-job training to those learning new trades. However, the mandate doesn’t ask about the apprenticeships prior to signing of the contract, and although Wainschaf Associates added one in, a few lawmakers voted against the bidder. While the lawmakers expressed their excitement for the project, many said they didn’t have faith in the company chosen.
“It seems to me what they did here was, ‘Well, we need this in order to qualify.’ For me, I just don’t think they’re legit right now for what we’re looking for,” said Tim Nichols, D-Latham.
Nichols said now he wants to look at the law to “tighten up loopholes.”
“I think the letter of the law may not have been as clear in terms of what we mean when we say we want an apprenticeship. But the spirit of the law is absolutely clear. We want someone who has an ongoing apprenticeship in place when they bid, not after the fact,” Nichols said. “And that’s what these guys did, and that’s my issue with it.”