City gives Duckels base area contract

City awards contract to Duckels Construction


— City officials awarded Duckels Construction a nearly $4.5 million contract Tuesday night for work at the base of Steamboat Ski Area and decided not to investigate rumors questioning the integrity of the bid process.

The Steamboat Springs City Council, acting as the Steamboat Springs Rede­velopment Au­­thority, voted, 5-1, to award the contract to Duckels, which will build part of a public promenade, daylight a section of Burgess Creek and complete associated work this summer and fall. City Council President Cari Hermacinski voted against the contract because of what she said were “very substantial” differences in Duckels’ initial and final proposals. The differences spurred allegations that bid prices were leaked during the selection process.

Hermacinski said the rumors, and “even the appearance of corruption in the bid process,” could raise questions with the public.

“This is big money you’re dealing with on behalf of the taxpayers,” she said to other City Council members.

Fred Duckels and Derick Duckels said Tuesday that Duck­­els Construction did not, in any way, lower its final bid because of knowledge of other bids.

“I’ve agreed to pay for all polygraph tests and everything else — we stand behind our work,” Fred Duckels said. “There was nothing leaked to us.”

City Manager Jon Roberts, city purchasing and risk manager Anne Small, and base area redevelopment coordinator Joe Kracum all said they had heard rumors of leaked bids but had no firsthand evidence to substantiate those rumors.

City officials debated how to handle the issue for nearly two hours in Centennial Hall.

A motion for a Steamboat Springs Police Department investigation into the bid process failed on a 3-3 vote, with council members Hermacinski, Jon Quinn and Kenny Reisman voting for an investigation and Meg Bentley, Scott Myller and Jim Engelken voting against. Councilman Walter Magill stepped down from the issue because he bid for construction surveying services on the project.

Duckels Construction presented a selection committee with a final bid of about $7.18 million for the entire project, an amount that company Vice President Derick Duckels said was about $450,000 less than Duckels’ initial bid.

The selection committee took proposals for the entire project, which would extend into 2011, with the understanding that only a 2010 contract would be awarded at this time and that funding might not be available for next year’s work.

The selection committee unanimously voted to recommend Duckels for the promenade and daylighting project. Kracum wrote in a memo to the council that the committee thought Duckels “provided the best proposal and (best and final offer) and exceeded the ranking of other proposers.”

The other two finalists for the project were Native Excavating and Connell Resources. All three finalists went through a “best and final offer” process, in which finalists presented an initial bid and interviewed separately with the selection committee March 18. After conducting the three interviews, the committee gave each finalist until 5 p.m. March 22 to submit a revised proposal.

Small said the interviews reviewed several other factors in addition to costs, such as project scheduling, approach and construction staff.

Small said Duckels Construc­tion and Connell Resources returned March 22 with bids lower than their initial offerings. Native Excavating’s final bid was higher than its initial bid.

Derick Duckels said the company’s initial bid was “around $7.5” million. Derick Duckels said he and Fred Duckels, his father, worked to lower their initial bid to stay competitive for the project, based on a price range of $7 million to $7.5 million that Derick Duckels said he saw in the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

A March 16 newspaper article included that cost range, attributed to Kracum’s comments to the Routt County Board of Commissioners.

Small said Tuesday that she “cannot believe anyone on that committee leaked those numbers — they would have no reason to do so.” She said committee members had instructions that the initial bids were strictly confidential.

Native’s final bid was about $7.23 million. Connell’s final bid was about $7.25 million. Hermacinski said those two bids changed less than $100,000 each, a much lesser degree than Duckels’ change.

Duckels Construction has conducted three years of previous work on base area redevelopment projects.

Kracum told City Council that work could begin April 19.

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail


stillinsteamboat 7 years, 1 month ago

There is always controversy surrounding this company. Why is everyone picking on Fred?


JLM 7 years, 1 month ago

This bid process invites speculation as to its fairness when initial bids are followed by interviews and then an invitation to submit a "final and best" bid.

On the other hand when you simply invite bids and have a public bid opening, there is substantially less risk of contamination.

Disclosure and transparency are the best antiseptic for corruption.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 1 month ago

Funky procedure. The first step of initial bids has no discernible benefit and has the obvious drawback of telling a number of people a secret that would be a huge advantage if learned by a competitor. The interview process could take place without including an initial bid.

By making such a large change to their bid, it certainly appears that Duckels during the process decided that they had to substantially improve their bid. It would be criminal if Duckels had been told of the other bids. But it is also possible that during the interview process that Duckels was able to pick up on clues of body language, tone and so on from the selection committee that their initial bid was well above the other bids.

The real problem here was the flawed bid process. There simply should not be secret initial bids. Either no initial bids or public initial bids. One style of bid process that has two rounds of bids would eliminate the least attractive bidders in the first round. The bids are make public. Thus, forcing bidders to make very competitive initial bids. Then in the second and final round the bidders are allowed to improve their bids.


oldskoolstmbt 7 years, 1 month ago

i guess the committee doesn't consider safety records when the bids are that close?


Kevin Nerney 7 years, 1 month ago

I remember years ago working for a guy doing residential renovations and one time a homeowner asked if the boss could do better on the proposal so the contractor raised the price by $3,000.00. When questioned he said "I did better,--- for me". A quote is a quote and that's the price if you don't like hire someone else.


housepoor 7 years, 1 month ago

maybe the city can get one of those Obama grants so they could afford Freds original bid? Fred loves to work for the government, can't wait to get on that NEW VICTORY HIGHWAY


Tubes 7 years, 1 month ago

The question is: what was the initial low bid compared to Duckels' final bid of $7.18 million? That's what this article doesn't mention. Because Duckels said he was trying to be competitive with what the Pilot reported as a bid range of $7-7.5 million. $7,180,000 is well above the stated low end of the range. That's hardly "competitive."

I'm guessing the range of $7-7.5 million wasn't entirely accurate and that Duckels' final bid came in just under the initial low bid. That would explain the suspicion of leakage and the reason for this discussion (because trimming a bunch of money alone--although suspicious--wouldn't spur such allegations.) Perhaps someone can comment on what the initial low bid was compared to Duckels final bid and maybe this will all make more sense.


JLM 7 years, 1 month ago

"Native’s final bid was about $7.23 million. Connell’s final bid was about $7.25 million. Hermacinski said those two bids changed less than $100,000 each, a much lesser degree than Duckels’ change."

Sometimes it IS helpful to read the damn article before commenting but sometimes it is just too much damn work, eh?


Scott Wedel 7 years, 1 month ago

JLM, But those are the final bids, not their initial bids. The less than $100K change and Native's initial being lower than final means that Native's initial was between $7.13M and $7.23M and Connell's initial bid was between $7.25M and $7.35M.

Sometimes it is helpful to read the article and the comment before commenting, but sometimes that is just too much work, eh? :)


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