While money was a main reason for rejection, council members said they also worry about the quality of service the Lexington company can provide. Some pointed to projects done by the company in other cities that did not turn out satisfactorily.
Council members said they were going to be a little more choosy on this major downtown project.
"We don't want to get into the mess we've been in before," said council member Bobby Wilkinson.
The last construction company hired to work on the project filed for bankruptcy before the project's completion. The city still is trying to resolve a lawsuit stemming from that contract.
T.H.E.'s experience with downtown water line replacement was also a point of contention.
"Our water commission and water supervisor had major concerns about experience," said Mayor Eddie Carter.
"You've got to have somebody that really knows what they're doing," said Jim Adams, chairman of the Stanford Water Commission. Adams estimated the cast iron Main Street lines to be about 100 years old. Leaks have not become an issue, said Adams, but mineral buildup in the pipes is one reason for the replacement.
The city now will enter competitive negotiations with the bidders, while amending its streetscape plan to cut unnecessary costs.
Carter said he planned to sit down with the bidders next week to discuss rebidding the project. It is one more step in the long process of sprucing up downtown, said council member Jayme Phillips.
"This is just a culmination of what we've begun before," said Phillips. "This is just a part of the vision."