Bid protest could stall Kona Judiciary Complex

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A fire deliberately set on Thursday at the Big Island Drug Court highlighted the safety problems at Kona’s courthouses — one of the chief arguments that boosters of the new Kona Judiciary Complex have used to push the project through the funding stage.

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A fire deliberately set on Thursday at the Big Island Drug Court highlighted the safety problems at Kona’s courthouses — one of the chief arguments that boosters of the new Kona Judiciary Complex have used to push the project through the funding stage.

Police are searching for the suspect responsible for the fire that was extinguished by people in the area.

But now, a bid protest on the new $90 million complex means that West Hawaii might have to wait a bit longer for justice to be served in a secure setting.

A protest letter filed late last month by contractor Nan Inc. alleges that two lower bidders failed to respond to all of the requirements of the project. By law, a hold is put on a project while the protest moves through a legal process, said Cathy Chin, spokeswoman for the state Department of Accounting and General Services.

“It is difficult to estimate how long this process will take,” said Chin.

If the protest is denied, an appeal can be made to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, then on through the courts, Chin said.

Theoretically, this could set the project back months.

In the Jan. 22 letter to Comptroller Douglas Murdock, Nan Inc. claims that two lower-priced bids by Hensel Phelps Construction Co. and Watts Constructors failed to completely list subcontractors. According to Nan’s protest, Hensel Phelps failed to list contractors for flashing and sheet metal, waterline chlorination and for heating, ventilating and air conditioning testing and balancing.

Watts failed to list the subs which would handle termite control, fireproofing, membrane waterproofing, waterline chlorination and HVAC testing, according to the letter. Additionally, both failed to list subcontractors for detention equipment work, Nan alleges.

Phone calls to all three contractors were not returned by deadline.

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DAGS had not issued an intent to award the project when the protest was lodged. Attempts to get further comment and detail from the Hawaii State Judiciary on the possible delays and implications for groundbreaking were referred back to DAGS, which had not responded by deadline.

Plans for the 10-acre site near Kmart have been finalized, and groundbreaking has been planned for this fall. Completion of the 143,000-square-foot facility is set for spring of 2019. The center will contain five courtrooms, a law library, holding cells, a self-help center and conference rooms, and will consolidate judicial functions that are now scattered through Kailua-Kona and Kealakekua.

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