New county building to cost $4 million

OKEECHOBEE — A local contractor, Native American Construction, was chosen to build the new building that will house the Okeechobee County Property Appraiser, Tax Collector and Driver’s License offices.

At their June 27 meeting, the Okeechobee County commissioners voted to accept the low bid of $4,005,963 from Native American Construction.

“The apparent low bidder has done work with the county,” said Gerald Trout, architect for the project. He recommended the county accept the bid.

County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper said the fact that the low bidder is also a local contractor made the decision easy.

According to the county staff report, the invitation to bid was advertised on April 24, and on May 7, a pre-bid meeting was held for interested contractors. Of the 14 contractors who attended the pre-bid meeting, nine submitted sealed bids. The bids ranged from the low bid by Native American Construction of Okeechobee, $4,005,963, to the high bid by Wells Bros. Construction of Palm Bay, $5,031,963.

Native American Construction was the only local contractor to bid on the project. Other bids came from contractors from Lakeland, Sebring, Lantana, West Palm Beach, Wauchula, Vero Beach, Delray Beach and Palm Bay.

In other business, the county commissioners approved a request from Oscar Ruiz to abandon a portion of the Eighteenth Street right-of-way in the Okeechobee Gardens subdivision. The street was platted but not built. The right-of-way runs east to west for four blocks. The west quarter of the right-of-way was abandoned some time ago. Oscar Ruiz owns all of Block 24 in the Okeechobee Gardens subdivision, which is on the north side of the east one-quarter of the unbuilt Eighteenth Street right-of-way. Mr. Ruiz also owns part of Block 25 on the south side of the right-of-way, specifically Lots 5-9, which comprise the west half of the block’s frontage on the unbuilt right-of-way.

Mr. Ruiz petitioned the county to abandon the portion of the unbuilt Eighteenth Street right-of-way between Block 24 and Block 25. Abandoning this right-of-way would allow Mr. Ruiz to combine his property. Lots 1-4 of Block 25 also front the right-of-way and will be impacted by abandoning it. A letter of consent from the owner of Lots 1-4 in Block 25 was submitted with the abandonment application.

In support of the petition, the applicant has provided letters from relevant utility providers. None of the utility providers have expressed any objections to the proposed abandonment. No county department has indicated an objection to the requested abandonment.

When right-of-way is abandoned, it is split down the middle and divided between the landowners on either side, Mr. Royce explained.

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