A project to renovate the Northern Lehigh Food Bank is in jeopardy after proposals to do the work came in much higher than anticipated.

As a result, Washington Township officials say the township could lose a $40,000 grant if they don't spend it on the project by the end of the year.

The township's board of supervisors opened bids for Phase I and II of the project at a special meeting on Tuesday.

Prior to the bid opening, supervisors Chairman Abe Ahner said no contract would be awarded because the bids must first be sent to Lehigh County for review.

"It's up to the county," Ahner said. "It's their money."

Ashwood Enterprises, of Danielsville, bid $128,712, while A.P. Houser of Emmaus, bid $159,694. But, both of those figures were way more than the $85,000 the township has in Community Development Block Grants to pay for the project.

"We had [over $80,000] to work with, but apparently everything is over [bid]," Ahner said. "I don't know what the county will do."

Ahner said the inflated costs of the bids are a real blow to the project.

"I'm very disappointed, because the job could be done if it weren't for prevailing wages," he said. "It's frustrating; especially when you see people [across the street] over there at the food bank."

What makes matters worse, Ahner said, is that the township is mandated to spend $40,000 in CDBG funds by the end of the year, or lose it.

Previously, the township had also received $40,000 in CDBG funds that were administered by the county for the project.

Contacted this morning, Ahner said the township plans to ask the county to release the $85,000 to the township to do Phase I of the project.

Earlier this month, a bid award for the project was delayed after the township received the additional $40,000 in CDBG funds.

That prompted supervisors earlier this month to reject the four bids that were submitted to the township. Rex Homes of Slatington had submitted the apparent low bid of $39,995.

Once completed, the project is expected to double the size of the facility by another 1,200-1,400 square feet.

A receiving door would be installed for delivery, while a concrete wall, wall insulation, a heating system with a heat pump, and a new electrical panel inside the building would all be installed. The project would also wire the building for a cooler and a freezer.

Since the early-1990s, the food bank has operated from out of the former township municipal building, located at 7884 Center St., Emerald, as part of a 10-year lease agreement with the township

The food bank is under the sponsorship of the Northern Lehigh Pastoral Association, which is composed of 14 churches that help support the food bank, as well as other outside churches.

The food bank distributes baskets to needy families in Northern Lehigh and surrounding communities on the first, second and third Thursday of each month, as well as the last Saturday of each month from 9:30 a.m. to noon.