Rail station garage-plaza, tutoring contracts are let Competing bidder protests first award


Baltimore's Board of Estimates yesterday awarded a $9.1 million contract to Roy Kirby and Sons Inc. to build a 550-car underground parking garage and plaza next to Pennsylvania Station.

Also, the board approved a $1.4 million contract to a private tutoring firm to run federally funded math and reading programs at five low-income city schools.

The award to Baltimore-based Roy Kirby for construction of the two-deck garage came after the third time the contract had been up for bid. Last December, the bids were discarded when the low bidder violated the contract requirements and in April the bids were discarded because of protests that two of the four bidders violated provisions for minority business participation.

Yesterday's award came despite the protests of an attorney for Jos. Averza & Sons, who argued that the Kirby bid fell short by $10,000 of meeting the city's requirement that 20 percent of the money be directed to minority businesses when contingent fees were taken into account.

But Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said the parking facility, a key element in the Penn-North renewal area, was "a project of great importance" that needed to be started.

"Do we reject that low bid for $10,000 or go to your client, who is $310,000 above the Kirby bid? It's a pretty bitter pill you're asking us to swallow," Mr. Schmoke said.

Joseph Averza, vice president of the protesting company, complained later that by awarding the contract to Kirby the board was "breaking the rules. . . . It sets a precedent."

Kirby officials said the construction will soon begin and the project will take about 1 1/2 years to complete. Money for the project comes from federal, state and city sources.

The $1.4 million award to Columbia-based Sylvan Learning Systems would pay for after-school instruction in math and reading for 660 students at five schools that are still to be selected. As part of the agreement, Sylvan officials promised that any students who did not achieve minimum test score standards in reading and math at the end of the yearlong program would get extra instruction in the summer of 1994.

To ensure that Sylvan met that obligation, the board decided to withhold a portion of its final $117,000 payment to the company, based on the number of students whose scores fell below those standards.

"We don't want to be left holding an empty bucket," said Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean.

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