Coin toss at Kingston City Hall decides contractor for firehouse asbestos removal

KINGSTON, N.Y. >> A flip of a 1920s silver dollar — a family heirloom passed down from mother to daughter — decided the contract for asbestos removal at the city’s main firehouse.

In a highly unusual event, at least for Kingston, a city official tossed a coin Tuesday morning to decide which firm would get the $42,000 deal for the project at the Central Fire Station on East O’Reilly Street in Midtown.

The winner? NRC Inc. of Syracuse.

The coin toss was necessary because NRC and Sauquoit, N.Y-based Sullivan Contracting submitted identical bids for the work.

City Engineer Ralph Swenson played midfield referee of sorts for the City Hall coin toss, explaining the reasons for the flip — and noting it was allowed under city and state polices — and then carrying it out.

“Both NRC and Sullivan Contracting submitted numerically identical bids,” Swenson announced. “Both bidders were [determined to be] responsible and responsive.”

Swenson paused, coin in hand.

“Heads will be Lady Liberty and tails will be the eagle,” Swenson said. “Ken [Bracken] from NRC will be represented by Lady Liberty, and Tim [Davis] from Sullivan Contracting will be tails.”

Swenson flipped the silver dollar upward. It landed with a soft thud on the burgundy carpet of Common Council chamber.

“Heads,” Swenson said. “That’s Ken and NRC. Congratulations.”

Bracken said he felt good about winning the toss and promised to do “a good job for the city of Kingston.”

Alan Adin, the city’s engineering technician, said that in the 30 years he has worked at City Hall, there’s never been a bidding tie before now, and therefore no need for a coin toss.

The vintage coin used for Tuesday’s toss belonged to Adin’s mother, Shirley. It was given to her by her mother, Anna Fero, perhaps in the 1930s, Adin said.

The coin was minted in 1924, the year of Shirley Adin’s birth.

Davis, the Sullivan representative, said he has seen bidding ties twice — once in Rochester, the other time on Gloversville.

In one case, Davis said, the contract decision was made by drawing cards.

“One and one,” Davis said of his record before Tuesday’s toss. “I always feel lucky.”

This time, his luck did not prevail.


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