Things have been a little quiet around here, and I apologize for that, but there really hasn’t been a ton going on. One thing that did happen, was that the SPAC members and I met with a small group of Parks employees regarding the Delridge qualifications and bid situation.
I don’t want to bore you with the details here, but in essence, the skaters and the Parks officials are looking for different things to come out of these skatepark projects.
Skaters want the best skatepark the money they lobbied for can buy. They don’t understand why we’re trying to lowball the project when we’ve got a set budget. They know that there are builders who can be left alone to make a great skatepark, and there are other less expensive contractors that if left unsupervised, will produce a substandard park.
Parks employees are concerned with the bottom line. They want to save money if possible. They want to take advantage of this competitive bid climate. They consider a good skatepark to be one that is filled with skaters, and lasts for a long time and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. They want the project to be completed on schedule and under budget.
The topic of the conversation was the list of qualifications that was used to determine the lowest “qualified” bidder. What we were not successful in doing is convincing Parks to adjust the qualifications so that we can be assured that a substandard contractor will not be awarded the contract. Skater feedback on the contractor’s previous projects is not considered. All the bidders need to do is have one person on staff that has worked on the qualifying projects (4 skateparks of a certain size in 6 years), in basically any role, in order to qualify. This means that all they need to do is hire one worker from a competing company and they can claim that they built all the projects that company built.
Obviously this is not ideal and I would say the process is being mismanaged by people who are bootstrapped by the city legal department and their fear of lawsuits. Apparently the city lawyers aren’t in the business of handling lawsuits but avoiding them. Can someone find me a job where my main role is to find ways to avoid having to do my job? We were told over and over again that the qualifications we were suggesting, which we took directly from 8-10 similar bid documents from other cities, were “too restrictive”.
This is our skatepark, and none of the people who have the most control over who builds your skatepark have ever been on a skateboard. They are basing their process on a set of criteria that does not take into account the product quality from the point of view of the people who use it, which to me seems like a massive failing in the system.
Today the invitation for bidders to submit has been advertised. The new qualifications are definitely relaxed in comparison to the last set, which disqualified Tom Sahli. From my estimation, Sahli is now qualified, and based on his uncanny ability to bid below cost on these projects, he will likely be awarded the job unless someone else finds a creative way to bid so insanely low. Which, of course, begs all sorts of other questions but we’ll save that dialogue for another post.
The really interesting thing here is that now everyone knows what their competitors bid on the last round because it’s now all public information. So folks, your Delridge skatepark bidding process is now, very literally, a race to the bottom.
The bid will be awarded on February 2nd.