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2A • March 6, 2015 • Seaside Signal • seasidesignal.com
City questioned on public works project
Locals say bank stabilization project should have
gone to public bid and not to just one company
However, the city never
put the project up for bid, as
required by Oregon law.
A city public works proj-
Winstanley and Wallace
ect, costing nearly $800,000, said Oregon statutes allow for
is underway, but some people an exemption when it comes
question whether the project, to “the cost and availability
which was not put up for pub- of specialized expertise that
lic bid and is being done by is necessary for the public
a California-based company, improvement,” which they
could have been done for less. believe applied in this case.
At its meeting Feb. 23, the
“Regardless of what some
Seaside City Council unani- of the local contractors claim
mously approved a resolution of their ability to do this
to authorize a loan through work, the truth is this was an
the Oregon Infrastructure Fi- H[WUHPHO\ GLI¿FXOW SURMHFW WR
nance Authority of the state get permitted,” Wallace said.
Business Development De- “For various environmental
partment. The same resolu- UHDVRQV LW¶V YHU\ GLI¿FXOW WR
tion was brought before the get a rock project approved
council at its meeting earlier these days. BioEngineering,
this month, but the vote was the company we’re working
split 3 to 3, requiring it be vot- with, it’s not just that they’ve
ed on again.
developed a niche. These
The resolution authorizes guys are leaders in a new
City Manager Mark Win- ¿HOG7KH\¶UHDWWKHIRUHIURQW
VWDQOH\ WR REWDLQ ¿QDQFLDO of bioengineering.”
assistance of no more than
“There’s no one else
$800,000 with an interest rate around here that has the
of 3.7 percent per year to be ability to get this project put
repaid over 10 years.
together and to get it permit-
The funds will be used to ted,” Wallace said. The city’s
IXO¿OO D FRQWUDFW engineering department also
with BioEngineering Asso- doesn’t have the capability to
ciates, which was signed by design this sort of project, he
Mayor Don Larson Jan. 29. added.
A California-based company,
“We needed the expertise
was hired to design and build as far as permitting, as well
a rock retaining wall to stabi- as working in environmental
lize the riverbank along the areas,” he said.
north side of the city’s waste-
The U.S. Army Corps of
water treatment plant. The Engineers authorized a gen-
city has already paid a down eral permit for bank stabiliza-
tion for the city’s project Jan.
Work on the project began 7KH UHPRYDO¿OO SHUPLW
a few weeks ago after Bio- from the Oregon Department
Engineering subcontracted of State Lands also was au-
with Big River Construction, WKRUL]HG-DQ
of Astoria, for construction
But McDowell didn’t
services and materials. Public agree with Wallace and Win-
Works Director Neal Wallace stanley’s assessment.
said he anticipates the project
“It’s not hard to get per-
ZLOO WDNH DERXW ¿YH ZHHNV mits; it takes time to get per-
with good weather, instead of mits,” he said.
the originally estimated six to
Several local engineers
and design companies could
However, Dale McDow- have drawn a design and gone
ell, of TFT Construction and a through the permitting pro-
member of the Seaside Trans- cess and then put the project
portation Advisory Commis- up for bid, McDowell said.
sion and the city budget com-
“For them to say no local
mittee, and Keith Keranen, of contractor could handle it is
Keith Keranen Excavating, hogwash,” he said. “We’ve
said both of their companies, worked on the jetty before.
and likely other local con- And a local contractor is han-
tractors, could have done the dling it. They’re doing the
overall project at less expense. work out there.”
By Katherine Lacaze
KATHERINE LACAZE PHOTO
Construction crews work on the city of Seaside’s project to stabilize the bank of the Necanicum Estuary, which had started to
erode, threatening the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The project was awarded to California-based BioEngineering Asso-
ciates rather than going to bid. BioEngineering subcontracted with Big River Construction, of Astoria.
Not only have McDowell
and Keranen raised concerns
about the project not going
out for bid, but they are crit-
ical of the overall cost, which
McDowell said go hand in
“Just follow the law and
you’ll save money,” he said.
“You get competitive bids.
That’s the key word — ‘com-
emailed several construction
companies in mid-January
with a request to provide a
few laborers and operators,
along with equipment, to
work alongside the BioEn-
gineering crew to build the
wall, McDowell’s company
SXW LQ D ELG RI SHU
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weeks. BioEngineering, in-
stead, subcontracted with Big
River, which provided a low-
er weekly quote.
“The thing is it should
have come out to bid as the
whole project and not just a
piece of it,” McDowell said.
He posed the question:
If the raw materials cost an
HVWLPDWHG DQG FRQ-
struction costs for the subcon-
why did the city sign a con-
tract with BioEngineering for
nearly $800,000 that now has
forced the city to obtain a loan
from the state?
“The city is spending mon-
ey like crazy and they don’t
have any,” Keranen said.
The city has not pro-
vided a detailed budget
for the project. The proj-
ect’s general budget as ap-
‘For them to say no local contractor
could handle it is hogwash’
Dale McDowell, of TFT Construction and a member of the Seaside
Transportation Advisory Commission and the city budget committee
proved for the loan from
the Oregon Infrastructure
Finance Authority includes
contingency; $72,000 for
DQG IRU SUHDZDUG
H[SHQVHV VXFK DV ¿QDO GH-
sign and permitting. Last
September, the City Coun-
cil approved a resolution
to repay the loan using city
sewer fees and revenue.
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District, the Seaside Chamber
of Commerce, the Seaside
Association and others before
The committee’s goal is to
Their hope, though, is that
proper procedures will be
followed in the future in the
community’s best interest.
“We should learn from
this going forward and not do
it again,” Keranen said. “It’s
really all about helping them
not do any more harm to the
Wallace agreed the solu-
tion the city has chosen is not
the least expensive solution,
but he believes it was neces-
sary because “this isn’t a typi-
cal rock revetment” or stabili-
“I didn’t see any other av-
enues to getting this project
permitted in a timely fash-
ion,” he said. “What we did
was hired the best people for
the job, and we’re going to
end up with a good job.”
Time was a factor be-
cause the time period the city
is allowed to do work in the
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not open again until Nov. 1.
Wallace said the city bare-
ly got the permits in time to
complete the in-water work
for the project.
Another concern McDow-
ell raised is that, according
to the Oregon Construction
Contractors Board, BioEn-
gineering does not have a
statutory public works bond,
as required by the state to be
eligible to do construction on
public works projects.
Wallace said he could not
comment on that.
ates did not respond to multi-
ple requests for comment.
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Public invited to open house to
comment on Mill Ponds project
The Mill Ponds Technical
Advisory Committee is seek-
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vision for the Mill Ponds park
and to craft a recommendation
for the Seaside City Council.
The committee is hosting
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Bob Chisholm Community
&HQWHU $YH $ 7KH
group will unveil its draft
The committee already
has taken public input re-
ceived in August and de-
veloped a phased plan for
the park. In addition to the
public, the committee will
seek input from the Parks
Advisory Council, the Sunset
Now that the project has
been contracted out to Bio-
Engineering, both McDowell
and Keranen said it was right
for the City Council to ap-
prove the loan request, since
the project has to be paid
somehow. They also are hap-
py that BioEngineering is sub-
contracting with Big River.