Millers Creek dredging project clears first hurdle

The Millers Creek Special Tax District came one step closer, during its meeting May 15 at the Havana Jax Café in St. Nicholas, to hiring an engineering firm to do the work of its dredging project.

With only one firm responding to its Request for Proposal by the April 21 deadline, the board voted unanimously to accept the proposal of the engineering consulting firm Amec Foster Wheeler, which submitted a comprehensive 49-page document establishing its qualifications regarding the scope of the project.

The next step for the Board is to meet with representatives of Amec Foster Wheeler and negotiate a contract, said Board Attorney Wayne Flowers of Lewis, Longman & Walker, P.A.

Prior to the deadline, Board Secretary Sharon Johnson said she had received three inquiries from vendors concerning the dredging project’s request for proposal. Amec Foster Wheeler was the only firm to submit its qualifications by the deadline, she said.

Joe Wagner, a senior dredging engineer with Amec Foster Wheeler’s water resources environment and infrastructure division, is a regular attendee of many monthly Millers Creek Special Tax District Board meetings, and often supplies the board with helpful information.

Even so, Johnson was dismayed that his was the only engineering firm to be considered, and she questioned whether the Millers Creek board should wait in case other firms might respond with qualifications. “Are we at a major disadvantage to only have one respond?” she asked.

However, Flowers nixed that idea saying once the deadline had passed, the board could only consider firms which had submitted proposals prior to the deadline. If the board was not satisfied with the qualifications of Wagner’s firm, it could completely redo the RFP process and seek other proposals, he said.

“Once you set a deadline, if they don’t come in by that date, they’re out of it,” he said. “You will have to do another RFP and start over.”

“My opinion is that his firm (Amec Foster Wheeler) is immensely qualified to do this work,” Flowers continued, when asked directly by Johnson for his thoughts on the matter.

So as not to violate the Sunshine Law, which states that board business must be transparent to the public, only one board member can be involved with the negotiation process outside of an advertised public meeting, Flowers said. After discussing the Sunshine Law at some length, the board decided to appoint Chris McMorrow, the husband of Board member Barbara McMorrow, and Millers Creek resident Bobby Baker, an engineer with experience with dredging projects, to join Board member Jonathan Wright in conducting preliminary negotiations with Wagner’s firm. The trio will discuss the specifics of the contract and return to the board with its recommendations.

The board will discuss the negotiations and possibly vote on a contract at its next regularly scheduled board meeting, Monday, June 19 at 6:30 p.m. at Havana Jax Café. The board also plans to vote on the amount of its next neighborhood tax assessment during its upcoming meeting in July.

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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