Ice rink construction skates through legal drama

Posted 4/4/24

Mayor Frank Picozzi’s dream to build an open air ice rink in Apponaug was approved by the City Council by an 8-1 vote, but now has to skate through a legal challenge from the bidder that was …

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Ice rink construction skates through legal drama


Mayor Frank Picozzi’s dream to build an open air ice rink in Apponaug was approved by the City Council by an 8-1 vote, but now has to skate through a legal challenge from the bidder that was not chosen.

The city awarded Tower Construction Co. a $7,219,000 contract, but Bentley Construction Co. took legal action for not selecting their bid, which they argue is $128,134 lower.

According to a letter written from Planning Director Tom Kravitz to Purchasing Director Francis Gomez, Bentley was not chosen due to miscalculations within their bid. City Solicitor Michael Ursillo said that there were significant discrepancies between what they had listed as their lump sum and their unit prices.

“The issue with Bentley’s bid is although it wrote a lump sum that is the lowest bid on the bid sheet, adding up the individual unit prices on the bid sheet reaches a higher number that does not qualify as the lowest bid,” Ursillo said. “The RFP that the city publishes actually anticipates these types of issues because the city can’t be in a position of having to review and decide what happens if someone makes a mistake. So the bid document itself clearly states that in the event that there is a discrepancy between the unit prices and the extended totals, meaning the lump sum, the unit prices will govern.”

Lawyers representing Bentley sought to prevent the city from moving forward with the bid earlier in the day. Judge Richard Licht, however, declined to issue a temporary restraining order that would have stopped the City Council from going forward with the bid. The day after the meeting, though, Justice Kevin McHugh granted the restraining order.

Allan Fung, one of the attorneys representing Bentley, said that the BETA Group, a third-party group used to make the final recommendation for the bid, should have contacted Bentley to clear up any confusion about the bid.

“The fact of the matter is we shouldn’t have even gotten to this point,” Fung said. “Had BETA made a phone call to anyone at Bentley, they would have known that Bentley’s number- that $6,884,000 number- was correct, and a number they stand by and stand by with the bid bond. We wouldn’t have to get into this unit price, lump sum price- they are the lowest bidder.”

BETA Group Vice President Randy Collins said the group recommended Tower “based on the magnitude of [Bentley’s] discrepancies,” and that the group did not have contact with either Tower or Bentley.

According to the bid protest submitted by Jackson Parmenter, another lawyer representing Bentley, the discrepancies occurred due to eight line items being accidentally copied, adding $657,785 to the bid’s line items.

While members discussed whether to hold the topic until the council’s next meeting- something that Picozzi strongly objected to- or to go into executive session- which some members felt uneasy doing without a solicitor, as the solicitor present had recused himself, the council eventually went into an executive session lasting approximately half an hour.

Following the session, and while the council was moving favorable action on Tower’s bid, Parmenter attempted to take the podium, saying that Judge Licht had specifically indicated he could speak to the full council. However, he was rebuked by McAllister, who said that he hadn’t heard of such an order and there was no public comment session at that point in the meeting.

The sole vote against the rink came from Ward 5 Councilman Ed Ladouceur, who said he is concerned about the city’s ability to maintain existing city infrastructure.

“There are a lot of things that have me worried,” Ladouceur said. “My position is that the timing is wrong with this. I don’t think it’s something we should be venturing into when we have so many other priorities.”

The mayor countered saying that the city had already received a significant amount of money from Senator Jack Reed’s office to finance the project, and that the city had been catching up with infrastructural issues over the past few years.

“I object to him saying that we can’t keep up,” Picozzi said. “We are keeping up. This city is a much better place than three years ago… and we are catching up from the mess that I was left.”

According to McAllister, $5 million of cost will be picked up by an earmark grant that was won by Senator Jack Reed with the balance coming from American Rescue Plan Act funds.

A court date for Bentley’s claim will be held on April 17 at 9:30 a.m.

Other council matters

While the City Council ultimately approved the Warwick Police Department’s request for an additional $150,000 in ammunition purchases, members of the council and public were deeply skeptical of why the WPD needed that much money.

Resident Rob Cote claimed that the bid request would be an 885% increase over the amount of ammunition the WPD had asked for annually from 2004 through 2021, and is a bad deal for the city.

“With the amount of money that you want to spend on ammunition, you’d need to expend 2,153 rounds per day; so I’m wondering what type of training we have to have where we’re going to expend 2,153 per day,” Cote said. “I think it’s abusive to the taxpayers, and I don’t think there’s any need for this.”

The item passed 7-2, with Ladouceur and Ward 2 Councilman Jeremy Rix voting against it.

The City Council also gave second passage to an ordinance amending the city’s zoning ordinance to allow for a ten-unit residential complex to be built on Lots 38 and 39 on Commonwealth Avenue.

Every member of the council signed on as cosponsors to two separate resolutions- one supporting Governor Dan McKee’s Keep Rhody Litter Free Campaign and another supporting legislation in the General Assembly to fund state aid to libraries at 25% of local funds in response to McKee’s proposed Fiscal Year 2025 budget lowering the amount of state aid to 24.18%.

McAllister also introduced a project to give Greenwood Elementary School two new basketball hoops, which will be paid for using the ARPA money allotted to him.

“One of the hoops I can reach up and touch right now, and I’m not exactly 6’10”, so it’s long overdue,” McAllister said.

rink, construction


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  • Conservative

    Can Councilman Ed Ladouceur please run for Mayor?

    Thursday, April 4 Report this