Task force meeting
Members of the task force discuss their recommendation on March 16.
Past experience with B.L. Harbert International - including construction of the Homewood Community Center and last fall's study of the parks and school systems - was one of several factors that made the firm the task force's top choice as project manager for upcoming schools, parks and public safety projects.
The task force interviewed three different firms who had submitted proposals to manage the construction of a new public safety building, new ballfields at West Homewood Park, a swimming facility at Patriot Park and proposed expansion work across the city's schools, including a possible new high school in West Homewood. At a March 16 meeting, the task force voted unanimously to recommend Harbert's team as project managers.
Ward 4 Representative Alex Wyatt, who did much of the legwork on researching and comparing the three proposals, said three factors made Harbert stand out from competitors Hoar Program Management and Robins & Morton: the city's prior experience working with the firm, compatibility between the Harbert team and city and school officials, as well as a shared savings provision that would let the city and Harbert split any savings should the project come in under budget. Harbert offered a 70-30 split of savings in the community center project, though Wyatt said the split will have to be negotiated with this contract.
“That was a very successful component of the rec center project,” Wyatt said.
The three firms included different aspects in their proposals, including the way costs were broken down, which Wyatt said made it difficult to directly compare the cost of one firm over another. However, all three companies' estimates of costs for management of the schools expansion portion of the total project were within $100,000 of each other, Wyatt said.
Council President and task force leader Bruce Limbaugh also felt Harbert was the best choice for the project, which is being funded by a $110 million bond the city took out in late 2016.
“There’s no question that the success of the recreation center [contributed] – they brought that project in under budget, significantly, and on time,” Limbaugh said.
The task force's recommendation will be added to the next city council agenda. Ward 3 Representative Walter Jones said the normal procedure would be to send the recommendation to the finance committee for discussion before returning to the council for a vote. However, that would delay the contract - and therefore, work beginning - by nearly a month, which Jones said would cause problems particularly for the parks improvements.
This also means there will not be enough time to give proper notice to make the issue a public hearing. The council will discuss the recommendation on the floor, but Limbaugh did not say whether public comment would be allowed before the council votes.
Find out information about the next council meeting at the city website.