Dumont Park Contract Finalized: Council Weighs in on Process

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Thursday May 08, 2014

At the April 28 City Council meeting, the consent agenda held an item that Councilor Chris Shaw pulled for discussion at the conclusion of the meeting. The consent item involved authorizing City Manager Kevin Dorn to negotiate and sign a contract with Landworks to provide engineering and design consultant services for the Dumont Park project, which will provide a publicly accessible nature area for City Center. 

According to documents provided by Project Director Ilona Blanchard, the City issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) in January regarding consultant services for the project which are budgeted to be funded through recreation and impact fees this year. This funding source has the anticipated capacity to support the project through FY 2017, with construction undertaken by the private sector or by the city with TIF District financing. This project is 95 percent eligible for TIF District financing. 

Over four weeks, sixteen firms requested the RFQ package. By February 28,  five sets of qualifications were received:  Landworks, White and Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors, ORW, Milone and MacBroom, and Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. The applicants were then reviewed by a panel consisting of Director of Public Works Justin Rabidoux, Director of Planning and Zoning Paul Conner, Director of Recreation and Parks Todd Goodwin, and Project Director Ilona Blanchard. The three highest rated firms were invited for interviews. Landworks scored highest in the interview process due to its demonstrated experience and approach to understanding the project. This firm also won the consensus of panel members. 

After reviewing this information, Shaw asked about the process by which Landworks was chosen for the Dumont Park project. Shaw suggested that, in the future, it could be beneficial to include outside input from representatives of other committees in addition to the city staff. “The panel that reviewed the contracts was rather small.  Perhaps there is an opportunity moving forward for more engagement from reps from a couple of committees,” Shaw said. Councilor Helen Riehle agreed,“There’s value in having outside viewpoints.  They can illuminate different questions or talents than a small staff [mightconsider].” 

Dorn acknowledged these suggestions and said that some kind of protocol regarding the roles of committees will need to be worked out soon as city staff will review hundreds of proposals similar to the Dumont Park design contract over the next five years. “The public will be able to participate in the actual design, but choosing the contractor is different than getting input on the park,” Dorn said. “Staff need the authority to make some of these decisions.” 

Following the discussion, Councilor Meaghan Emery made a motion to authorize Dorn to sign a contract with Landworks for the design of Dumont Park, Shaw seconded and the decision was unanimous. 

It was unclear what modified action or revised procedures may be taken with regard to future committee member involvement when these types of contracts arise.

 

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent