Dredge wedge: Firm late, wants nearly $700K
Waterworks director Tom Frederick told his board today, August 25, that he'd been struggling to nail down a contract with the Nebraska-based firm that his selection committee tapped earlier in the month to launch a dredging study of the Rivanna Reservoir. Due to the alleged complexity of the study, Frederick said, he had extended the deadline to August 20 for the firm, HDR Engineering, Inc., to submit its price. But it wasn't enough time.
HDR's proposal didn't arrive, Frederick said, until he was lunching, just prior to the board meeting.
"It is substantial," warned Frederick, "and that suggests to me that it will take some substantial work to review."
Frederick said the price for the dredging study–- something pitched to local government a year ago by another firm for $275,000–- came in "close to $700,000."
"That's a big number," said board member Judy Mueller. "I am not comfortable in asking the staff to move it forward."
"I fully expected when you heard the number that you would not want to start the study," Frederick then said, calling the old $275,000 figure "not very realistic," given the detail requested in the RFP, the Request for Proposals, and the public scrutiny to which any such study will be subjected.
"You can't cut costs by reducing what's been asked," noted board chair Mike Gaffney.
The project manager in HDR's Glen Allen office, Carey Burch, who has already noted that Frederick has urged him to refrain from speaking to the media, again referred a reporter to the Frederick. And Frederick, citing a provision in state law appearing to limit public access to documents involved in negotiations, declined to release a copy of HDR's proposal.
For Betty Mooney, the former Charlottesville Planning Commissioner who's been at the forefront of an effort to push dredging as a cheaper, more environmentally-friendly alternative to the Authority's push for a new local reservoir, the news came as a setback.
"I guess we aren't surprised," she said, "because they chose a Cadillac firm and made the RFP very specific."
Mooney, who did not attend the meeting, said she hopes that the City–- since it's already agreed to pay for most of a study–- will simply order its own study using Gahagan & Bryant, the firm that visited Charlottesville in the spring of 2008 and offered to do the job for $275,000.
"If this becomes a stumbling block, a way to stop dredging," says Mooney, "then the City should get their own firm."
–last updated 1:23pm, Tuesday, September 1