PALMETTO -- Palmetto officials Monday night negotiated a labyrinth of agreements as both the city commission and the Community Redevelopment Agency, finalizing Florida Department of Transportation contracts allowing construction of the first phase of a multi modal trail following the Feb. 6 Bradenton Area River Regatta.
It's the first of a five-phase project to create a linear park trail throughout the city with the remaining phases being funded for 2021. The first phase will span the Green Bridge into Palmetto, move east along Riverside Drive East and west along Riverside Drive West and Riverside Park West. The estimated $3 million project is being funded through the CRA and FDOT, with the Southwest Florida Water Management District donating $800,000 toward stormwater improvements featuring bioswales and red brick pavers, as well as landscaping.
However, that construction is dependent on the city moving forward with crucial seawall repairs that stretch several hundred feet in both directions of the Green Bridge, with the most significant area of concern along Riverside Park West. The city previously finalized a deal with Reef Innovations to construct what is being called the first of its kind combination living shoreline and seawall designed to allow for natural marine vegetation growth and encourage marine habitat.
However, the living shoreline with reef balls constructed to look like coral, is dependent on the seawall construction occurring first. The city received 10 quotes to begin repairs to the seawall. The invitation to bid featured several factors beyond cost, including availability to begin work and completion estimates.
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Marine Contracting Group, out of Punta Gorda, submitted the lowest bid at $327,269 and said they could begin work within 10 days of receiving the notice to proceed and estimated a 120-day project completion. That time frame would delay the start of the FDOT project, so the city chose Quality Marine Construction out of Palmetto. Quality Marine Construction's bid was higher at $341,610, but noted they could start within five days of a notice to proceed and complete the project within 43 days.
Marine Contracting Group filed an appeal on Friday objecting to bonus points awarded to local contractors and questioned Quality Marine Construction's ability to meet its deadline. Michael Randolph, of the Gray Robinson law firm out of Naples, wrote in his appeal that his client "respectfully questions" Quality Marine Construction's 43-day timeline. "MCG submits that completing the scope of work in 43 days is not realistic given the experience factor of the entirety of the bidders."
City Clerk Jim Freeman said the appeal process will be for him to respond to the objections and if the company is not satisfied, it will then go to the mayor.
"If they still aren't satisfied, then it will come back to the city commission," said Freeman, who noted the appeal could delay the start of the seawall project for another month.
The city removed the seawall contract approval from Monday's agenda. City attorney Mark Barnebey said, "We want that (appeal) process to run its course."
The seawall was found in disrepair in July following an inspection conducted ahead of the FDOT project. The report indicated the seawall was "near failure" and in August the city issued an emergency shut down to public access and tasked the CRA to come up with money for emergency repairs. The CRA initially was going to borrow $500,000, but instead maneuvered to amend a 2006 loan that has a balance of more than $600,000.
The CRA first had to pass its plan before it could take action, and that, too, took place Monday night before the remaining items could be taken up for vote. Barnebey said the old loan "Had a very specific list of things that it could be used for, this (resolution) allows us to use it on this project."
Mark Young, Herald urban affairs reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041 or follow him on Twitter@urbanmark2014.