Second pier firm dismissed

Anna Maria City Pier
- Mike Field | Sun

ANNA MARIA – During an emergency meeting called by Mayor Dan Murphy, the City Commission decided Monday morning not to enter into negotiations with Taylor Engineering to design and permit the rehabilitation of the Anna Maria City Pier.

The sudden turn of events came as somewhat of a surprise because Murphy and City Planner Robin Meyer had been complimentary of the Sarasota-based engineering firm when recently updating the commission on the preliminary discussions with Taylor representatives.

In the end, it came down to cost. On Monday morning, Murphy told the commission that Taylor’s estimated price came in at a maximum of $526,348, not including construction administration or design and permitting of a water taxi berth, which he felt was too expensive for this initial phase of the project.

Murphy said while the Taylor quote offered more details concerning deliverables of the project, the cost of services was consistently high in all areas.

“Half a million dollars is not within the scope of what we can do,” he said. “The city can’t afford it.”

The selection process is guided by the state statute known as the Consultants’ Competitive Negotiation Act. Taylor Engineering, as the city’s second highest ranked firm, was the second firm to engage in preliminary discussions without advancing into formal contract negotiations. In May, the commission unanimously supported Murphy’s request to terminate discussions with the West Palm Beach based WGI engineering firm that was ranked highest of the three firms that submitted proposals in February.

The decision to jettison WGI was based on Murphy and Meyer’s shared belief that the firm failed to provide the requested project timelines and other deliverables in a timely manner, and the estimated cost climbed from the low to mid-$200,000s to more than $310,000.

What next?

Monday’s decision means Murphy will now engage in preliminary discussions with the third-ranked firm, the New York based McLaren Engineering Group.

When WGI was dismissed in May, Commission chair Doug Copeland asked if the city would have to negotiate with McLaren if Taylor Engineering didn’t work out. City Attorney Becky Vose said the city would, but those negotiations could be short if not initially satisfactory.

“The third vendor was pretty much unacceptable to the city planner and myself. They really didn’t have experience in this area,” Murphy told the commission at that May meeting.

If the mayor and commission decide McLaren isn’t a good fit, the city has at least three options to pursue:

  • Issue a new, but similar, request for proposals (RFP) in hopes of attracting additional bidders for the design and permitting processes only:
  • Issue a new RFP that requests design/build proposals, which would likely generate more interest from large construction firms that use in-house or outsourced design partners;
  • The city could refurbish the pier itself, serving as the lead entity and outsourcing the needed design, permitting and construction services.

The pier rehabilitation is expected to cost approximately $2 million and county officials have tentatively pledged $1 million in matching funds.