The New York State Parks and Recreation Department needs new boats, but a multimillion-dollar contract is headed to the west coast, leaving some boat builders in the North Country upset.
Spectrum News 1 looked into if the state agency wrongfully disqualify a Northern New York company from winning the bid to build them.
“It's amazing. It's all done right here in Watertown, in New York state, start to finish,” MetalCraft Marine General Manager Michael Allen said.
MetalCraft Marine builds aluminum boats for law enforcement, emergency responders and everyday work.
What You Need To Know
- MetalCraft Marine in Watertown manufactures aluminum boats for law enforcement, emergency responders and every day work
- The company is currently building boats for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard
- However, it was disqualified from bidding for a state contract with Parks and Recreation for reasons many in the North Country say, are just wrong
“These boats are built on military specs, but what really sets them apart from everybody else is the workmanship that goes into it,” Allen added.
Thirty-one employees are building dozens of boats to fulfill tens of millions of dollars worth of contracts with the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard.
“So the long-range interceptor goes on the cutter ship, and that helps protect the coast. The U.S. Navy force-protection boats, they patrol the harbors around the world,” Allen said.
But one contract it did not receive is what led to a press conference on Monday.
“New York state can be on better behavior about spending our tax dollars more mindfully,” Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency Board Chair Robert Aliasso said, telling the crowd state money should be given every chance to stay local.
Despite MetalCraft Marine being a company that has received numerous state grants, when the New York State's Parks and Recreation Department wanted to bid out 34 boats over the next five years, it not only disqualified MetalCraft Marine once, it did so twice, despite the fact it was low bidder, officials said.
“This erroneous decision by New York State Parks not only contradicts the state's own economic development goals, but it detracts from its investment,” Aliasso added.
So instead, the contract is going to a company out of Washington state.
So what happened?
Spectrum News 1 attempted to get comment from the governor and state Parks and Rec. A state parks spokesperson said they couldn't comment due to an ongoing procurement process.
The bid process, however, allows for any disqualified companies to appeal the decision.
The first disqualification was about it not being experienced enough in building the exact boat needed, according to state Assemblyman Scott Gray, who said the state later realized that was wrong.
The second disqualification was based on that parks believed the boats were designed to be unmanned, which is not true, Gray said.
“So the CBL boat, the Coast Guard really liked, and then they had an experiment where they wanted to develop an unmanned vessel,” Allen said.
Allen said that was just a one-time thing, not part of the entire order, and no one is sure how that got lost in translation.
“And we believe it is imperative that the commissioner of New York State Parks, Recreation, Historic Preservation correct this error and award the contract appropriately to MetalCraft Marine," Gray said.
Can that happen?
Gray said it's not too late for New York to decide to keep its money in New York.
MetalCraft Marine said if it had been awarded the bid, it would have hired 10 more people to fill it.