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Local Government Port Manatee Starts the Bids for Dock and Containment Yard


BRADENTON -- Retiring Port of Manatee Executive Director Dave McDonald was making his last pitch to the Port Authority. It was about going forward with the last of the Tiger II Grant funds that will complete the Birth 12 extension, taking it to 1600 ft. in length, while transforming fifteen acres behind the dock into a new container yard.

All sounded great, except the bidding appeared to be transforming into a process where CH2M Hill would be submitting a bid for the two projects as one job, insisting other firms do the same. That bid would be accepted, or not, when presented to the port authority board. If the authority didn't accept the proposal, they could refuse it and the bidding would start over. 

Then Commissioner Carol Whitmore suggested by leaving the two jobs as two jobs, local firms would be more likely to participate in the bidding. She said, "There are a lot of businesses out there in need of the work." That didn't sit well with McDonald or CH2M Hill's Special Project Manager, James D. Moore.

Commissioner Joe McClash suggested that the simple answer would be to have the bidding structured with a multi-bid process. Companies could bid on Project A or B, or submit a bid on them both together. Commissioner Robin DiSabatino agreed, saying that would be great because there maybe firms that have expertise more suited for one project over the other. She said, "We certainly need to try and make the work available for local contractors."

There still seemed to be something that McDonald and Moore didn't like. Both took their turn saying that separating the bids would bring complications to the process and couldn't get their heads around the idea. McClash replied, " You are making this so much more difficult then it is. It couldn't be any simpler. Bid on A, or B, or place a bid for A and B. How difficult is that?" 

Yet, low and behold, even thought it appeared most in the audience were nearing the entertainment part of the show, anticipating an answer to a question that was as simple as simple could be, Chairman Bustle said he didn't know why members were not going along with what staff recommended. It was then that those selling the CH2M Hill proposal came out of their huddle suggesting that the board readdress the subject on Tuesday, January 24. Their urgency had apparently taken a pause to rethink their strategy. 

At Tuesday's BOCC meeting, they will open the Port Authority meeting and we'll all see what happens.  


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