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Bid protest holds up Bridge Street pier project

By Merab-Michal Favorite, Islander Reporter

Nathan Briggs and James Reed, both of Mississippi, fish from the Historic Bridge Street Pier May 30. Reed, a teacher, said he comes to Anna Maria Island every year for summer vacation. He said he hopes to use the reconstructed pier on his next visit. Islander Photo: Merab-Michal Favorite

The city of Bradenton Beach may have to start from square one on the contracting of the Historic Bridge Street Pier renovation.

Progress on the reconstruction — scheduled to begin this month — was halted pending an investigation of two complaints filed by companies that competed for the contract, but lost to a higher bidder.

The investigation will focus on the validity of the complaints and analyze whether the city should withdraw its request for proposal and reject all bids, according to city attorney Ricinda Perry.

Pac Comm Inc. of Miami and Tampa Bay Marine Inc. of Gibsonton are both formally contesting the commission’s decision to award the contract to Sarasota-based Duncan Seawall Dock and Boat Lift LLC, the second highest bidder of the five companies that competed for the contract.

Walter Sowa, the attorney representing Pac Comm, filed the first protest following the May 22 commission meeting, where Duncan was officially awarded the contract, according to Perry.

Chris Theriot, general manager of Tampa Bay Marine, filed the second protest May 30, stating his company should be awarded the contract by default because the two lower-priced contractors failed to follow protocol. His claim is that they should be disqualified.

Mayor Bill Shearon said the results of the investigation will be brought to the commission at a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 5, preceding the commission’s regularly scheduled meeting.

“The city attorney is conducting the investigation, so we have all the facts and all the figures to present to the commission for a decision,” Shearon said.

During the special meeting, representatives from all three companies will have the opportunity to rebut and present evidence.

The commission can then decide to hold an informal hearing, issue a written decision or present the bid protest to a hearing officer for a final determination.

Perry said Duncan Seawall was selected above the others based upon evidence and testimony presented at the May 22 meeting, and the professional opinion of the city’s contracted engineering firm, ZNS Engineering.

City building official Steve Gilbert and pier team member Karen Wilson of ZNS recommended Duncan Seawall and Tampa Bay Marine to the commission based on a bid evaluation matrix and a series of interviews they conducted prior to the May 22 meeting.

The commission voted 3-2 — with Commissioners Jan Vosburgh and Janie Robertson opposed — to award the contract to Duncan.

Although Pac Comm had the lowest bid, shortest time duration and qualified for a local preference, Gilbert said he had concerns with the company’s projected duration of 100 days and workforce of eight employees when the other companies were predicting 140-175 days of construction and 18-35 workers.

Despite Gilbert’s concerns, the commission allowed John Huit, senior project manager of Pac Comm, to defend his proposal.

Tampa Bay Marine lost consideration because it was not represented at the May 22 meeting.

Two other companies were dismissed because they did not respond to interview requests.

Shearon said he hopes to have the issue resolved by June 5.

He said construction should commence in early July. The restaurant and bait shop will remain open throughout the process, but the rest of the pier will be off limits.

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