The low bid for a state contract to demolish 15 buildings at the old Kings Park psychiatric hospital came in well below the $15 million budgeted for the project, a state parks official said Wednesday.
The lowest of 20 bids unsealed Wednesday promised to knock down all the abandoned structures for $6.4 million, said Ronald Foley, Long Island regional director for the state parks department. None of the bidders were identified.
The low bid offered hope that the state can tear down the buildings without going over budget -- and still have money to demolish other buildings on the 500-acre property. Part of the site is Nissequogue River State Park; the rest is controlled by the state parks office.
"If the low bidders or the people who are in the low range are qualified, it's very good news," Foley said. "From what we know of the ones we recognize on the list, these are experienced people."
Foley said the contract would be awarded in about a month, after officials determine whether bidders are qualified to do the work.
State officials have said demolition work would begin in May and should be completed by November 2013. Among the buildings to be torn down are maintenance and power facilities, a boathouse, a dairy barn and the morgue.
"I am very hopeful that whomever is performing this work is hiring Long Island workers," he said. "The closer they get to the Kings Park area, the better."
Local bidders do not receive a preference under the state's competitive bidding rules, Foley said.
He said the 20 bidders were among 80 firms that had expressed interest in the project.
"There were some from the Midwest and some from New York," Foley said. "There was interest from all over the country."
Sean Lehmann, president of the Kings Park Civic Association, said it was "exciting that the process is moving forward."
"We expected the bids to come in low because it's a competitive market right now due to the economy," he said. "It's great they're coming in low."
The highest bid was for $24.1 million, Foley said. The number of bidders in the midst of a slow economy is an indication of "how hungry businesses are for work like this," he said.