ANNA MARIA – Mayor Dan Murphy expects a new request for proposals (RFP) for the construction of a new city pier to be issued by the end of this week.
During the Aug. 23 City Commission meeting, Murphy said he expected to have those RFPs returned to the city by late September.
The mayor, the contracted pier engineer and some city staff members will review and rank the pier construction proposals received, and Murphy will then present the highest ranked firm for commission consideration. When contacted later, Murphy his goal was to present his recommendation to the commission in early October.
The commission can then direct Murphy to begin negotiations with the highest-ranked firm or it can reject all proposals received – as it did in late July regarding the two proposals received in response to the original construction RFP.
Largo-based Speeler & Associates, the firm that demolished the pier, submitted a bid for $3.72 million and Tampa-based i+iconSOUTHEAST bid $4.13 million to build the new pier platform. The original RFP did not seek bids for the construction of the restaurant and bait shop spaces at the T-end of the pier. Those items were to be addressed later in a separate bid.
The mayor and commission unanimously agreed those bids were higher than anticipated or desired and the decision was made to issue a new RFP based on modified construction specifications. Murphy said he had hoped the bids would be closer to $2.5 million for the construction of the pier platform.
Murphy is optimistic the revised RFP will generate interest from marine construction firms.
“We’ll get plenty of attention. This project is something that any company can put in their portfolio. It’s high-profile because of the age of the pier, the history of the pier and the importance of the pier to our community, our county and to the state for that matter. It’s a feather in anybody’s cap,” Murphy said.
Murphy also told the commission the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has informed the city that it cannot start construction of the new pier until FEMA has reviewed and authorized all the pier plans.
Murphy said the city is not going to obtain any of the project funding requested from FEMA until FEMA approves the project. The building and decking at the T-end of the pier were damaged last September during Hurricane Irma.
“At this point, it’s around $1.8 million that we’ve requested,” Murphy said of the city’s funding request.
Murphy said he and city staff have sought assistance from the offices of U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and he had a meeting scheduled with Congressman Vern Buchanan this week.
“It’s our understanding that when it comes to FEMA claims in the state of Florida we’re number one; we’re at the top of the list. Rubio’s staff guy called me and assured me that they were on top of it. They were putting on as much pressure as they can. The city clerk has spent a couple hours every day on the phone and using emails putting pressure on these people,” Murphy said.
“I feel comfortable this FEMA thing will come to resolution just about in time with the reception of the bids and we can then get started,” Murphy said.
He also said he hopes he and the commission don’t have to make a decision about proceeding with the pier project without FEMA funding.
“We can get more money from other sources, but I would prefer we do this the right way and we keep going on a straight and narrow. We’re entitled to the FEMA dollars, so we’re going to go after those first,” Murphy said.