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Contractor sues swimming district

by Sharon Carter

If District Judge Michael Gibbons finds a disgruntled contractor’s arguments convincing Tuesday, he could order the East Fork Swimming Pool District representatives to cease contract negotiations with a Reno firm.

According to court documents, American General Development Inc., of Carson City, is filing a civil lawsuit accusing the swimming pool district board of “capriciously and erroneously” choosing to award a contract for more than $1.6 million in improvements to the Carson Valley Swim Center to Northern Sierra Construction Inc. of Reno.

If the contract with NSCI goes forward before the lawsuit is heard, AGD alleges both it and the people of the Carson Valley could be harmed.

In its lawsuit, AGD and its president, John S. Sieben Jr., allege that AGD, and not NSCI, submitted the lowest responsible bid for a planned addition to the pool and remodel to the swim center in Minden.

n Asks for TRO. They ask that their bid for the project be decreed by the court to be the “best” bid and that a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction be issued enjoining the swimming pool district from entering into a project contract with any other bidder than AGD before the lawsuit is heard. In the lawsuit, AGD asks the the court to specifically prohibit the district from contracting for the project with NSCI and order it to enter into a project contract with AGD.

Attorneys for AGD allege that at the May 12 district meeting, the board rejected AGD’s low bid, incorrectly describing it as “non-responsive” when, in fact, board members believed AGD lacked enough experience in pool construction to successfully fulfill the contract. And that after rejecting AGD’s low bid of $1,648,000, the district board voted to award the contract to the next-lowest bidder, NSDI.

According to court documents, AGD has specialized in public works projects since 1985, building a number of schools, colleges, armories, office buildings, hospitals, fire stations and other projects throughout Northern Nevada, including swimming pools. At the time of the bidding, AGD was working on the remodel of the Carson City Aquatic Center and building its therapeutic pool. And particularly, AGD says, both the Carson City and the Douglas projects are very similar – using the same architect, engineer and pool consultants. AGD argues that the company’s experience in building swimming pools is the sum total of that of its key people, and that AGD’s project superintendent, Dave Priess, has more than 25 years experience building pools.

AGD alleges that NSCI was not subjected to like scrutiny by the board, and in fact, had similar or fewer credentials than AGD.

n A prior tangle in Douglas. AGD and its parent company, General Builders Inc., may be more familiar to Valley residents as the general contractor responsible for the 1995-96 construction of Minden Elementary School.

In June 1996, the Douglas County School District sued AGD, claiming it botched the school’s main water line. The school district asked District Judge David R. Gamble to order AGD to pay $85,500, the estimated cost of repairs to correct the line. AGD filed a counter suit and at least two subcontractors entered the fray, filing multiple cross suits.

All sides claimed victory when the parties entered into settlement agreements March 19, 1997. However, in the agreement between the school district and AGD, the district agreed to pay AGD $20,000 and release AGD’s $78,600 bond it held for “punch lists” for Minden and Pinon Hills elementary schools. Judge Gamble dismissed the case on April 29, 1997.