Pier reconstruction in Bradenton Beach stalled amid protest

acastillo@bradenton.comJune 5, 2014 

Walkers stroll along the Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach. Plans to reconstruct the pier have been stalled amid protests from two companies after another was chosen.FILE PHOTO- TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton Herald

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BRADENTON BEACH -- A series of snags have stalled reconstruction of the Historic Bridge Street Pier -- a situation Bradenton Beach city commissioners are hoping to resolve during a special meeting Thursday.

After Duncan Seawall, Dock and Boat Lift LLC was officially awarded the contract at a May 22 commission meeting, two competing companies filed protests. The commission voted 3-2 to award the contract to the Sarasota-based company, which was the second-highest bidder out of five companies. Duncan Seawall bid $1.309 million.

City attorney Ricinda Perry launched an investigation to study the complaints filed by Gibsonton-based Tampa Bay Marine Inc. and Miami-based Pac Comm Inc. In an earlier bid evaluation matrix prepared by ZNS Engineering of Bradenton, Pac Comm was rated highest, followed by Tampa Bay Marine. The matrix looked at areas such as specific experience and the amount of time each company estimated the project would take.

After a City Pier Team meeting Wednesday, Mayor William "Bill" Shearon said commissioners will have to decide this week how to move forward.

"As far as I'm concerned, we're on a very time-sensitive issue. The delays here will get us into the later part of the hurricane season," he said. "If we have further delays, the pier won't be reconstructed prior to our next season."

Half of the pier is closed to the public because of damaged pilings deemed unsafe by a building inspector. As part of the reconstruction, pilings will be replaced and the deck will be replaced with one made from composite wood.

John Huit, senior project manager of Pac Comm, was present at the City Pier Team meeting with company attorney Walter Sowa.

"Between being the highest rated, most responsive bidder -- if the options are included, the lowest price bidder -- and having the shortest schedule duration, all of those things combine to be the best value for the city... so we're a little confused at how they bypassed us," Huit said.

Sowa declined to comment but said he would be willing to talk at the special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall.

Chris Theriot, general manager of Tampa Bay Marine, was also present.

"My position is that we were the lowest responsible bidder and should have been awarded the contract," he said, adding Pac Comm and Shoreline Foundation, which is based in Pembroke Park, should have been disqualified because the companies did not list a unit price in bidding documents under "upgrade preservative treatment of marine piles to dual treatment."

City bidding instructions states: "Bidder's failure to submit a price for any Alternate or Unit Price will result in the Bid being considered as nonresponsive."

As for Duncan Seawall, partner Steve Liebel said the company was pleased to be awarded the contract.

"We will support whatever decision they make tomorrow," he said over the phone Wednesday afternoon. "We've been around here for a long time and we're willing to compete for the project a second time around."

Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

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