Base area contract under fire

Contractors call bid process ‘an absolute failure and manipulation’


If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

When: 4:45 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Contact: Call city offices at 970-879-2060 or visit for more information.

On the agenda

5 p.m. Convene as the Steamboat Springs Liquor License Authority to set a hearing date for a liquor license application for Café Sweet Pea on Yampa Street; convene as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority to discuss the protested bid for base area construction work this summer

About 5:30 p.m. Convene as City Council for a meeting with the Routt County Board of Commissioners to discuss growth issues

7 p.m. Public comment on non-agenda items; an intergovernmental agreement with the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, regarding its down payment assistance program; and a second and potentially final reading of an ordinance creating new zones and fees for downtown parking

— City Manager Jon Roberts is recommending a complete rebid of construction work at the base of Steamboat Ski Area after two local contractors called the process surrounding the $4.5 million contract “an absolute failure.”

The fallout from a controversial bid process could mean added costs of as much as $30,000 and a delay of as long as two months for the start of work this spring on a public promenade and the daylighting of Burgess Creek at the immediate base of the ski area. The work is part of the city’s multi-year, multimillion-dollar base area redevelopment efforts.

The Steamboat Springs City Council, acting as the Steam­boat Springs Redevel­opment Authority, will address the base area contract shortly after 5 p.m. today at Centennial Hall on 10th Street.

The City Council awarded a $4.5 million contract for the work to Duckels Construction on April 6. City Council President Cari Hermacinski cast the lone vote against the award, citing “very substantial” differences in Duckels’ initial and final proposals that she said created at least a perception of impropriety. Fred Duckels and Derick Duckels have denied any improper actions during the bid process. Native Excavating and Connell Resources were the other two finalists.

In an April 13 letter protesting the contract, Native’s Ed MacArthur and Connell’s Eric Marsh called the city’s review of bids “an absolute failure and manipulation of the pricing process.” The letter raised several other issues with the proposal process.

“Nobody’s happy about this,” Roberts said about a potential rebid. “It not only cost the city money but also (cost) the bidders in the first round. It’s also delayed the project.”

The fallout also could mean some tough questions tonight for base area redevelopment coordinator Joe Kracum, who last month disclosed the price range for initial bids on the base area work before the bidding process was completed. The price range Kracum told Routt County commissioners during a public meeting was reported March 16 in the Steamboat Today.

On Monday, Roberts said Kracum violated the city’s procurement regulations for public projects. The City Council renewed Kracum’s contract two weeks ago.

“That could be a topic of discussion” tonight, Roberts said. “The reason for the rescind of the (Duckels) contract is the prohibited release of that information.”

Kracum said Monday that he regrets his comments to commissioners and doesn’t know why he didn’t foresee their results.

“This could jeopardize my whole business and doing work in the public sector,” Kracum said.

Rebidding the work could cost the city’s urban renewal authority $20,000 to $30,000, Roberts said, to redesign the project and ensure a fair process for all contractors submitting new bids. Kracum said he will have more exact estimates tonight of the potential costs and delays from rebidding the project, should City Council decide to do so.

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


Fred Duckels 7 years ago

Looks like an Ed MacArthur press release.


beentheredonethat 7 years ago

On Monday, Roberts said Kracum violated the city’s procurement regulations for public projects.

end of story............set new project parameters and rebid.......this time fairly.


housepoor 7 years ago

Just think what it will do base area businesses now that construction might be delayed well into summer.


oldskoolstmbt 7 years ago

ok, fred.... why didn't you include connell's name in your little pouty blog?


2007 7 years ago

Rather than start all over and delay the whole project even more, is it possible to divide the project into 3 parts and allocate them among the bidders so that each bidder can do a portion? Wouldn't getting the ball rolling be better for the whole town?


Scott Wedel 7 years ago

But the city awarded the contract knowing Kracum's public statements. And the public statements were not specific to any one particular confidential bid so they did not obviously hurt any particular bidder. It would seem to me that Duckels could go to court to have the contract enforced.

Obviously the bidding process was flawed. The whole concept of confidential bids and THEN a second round of bids is fundamentally flawed. So was the contract going to be rebid regardless? Of course not. The question is not whether the process was flawed, but whether the process was unfair and biased. And since City answered that question once and awarded the contract to Duckels, now the question is what happened since then to show bias or improper activity.

And redevelopment agency has to accept that they adopted a seriously flawed bid process and then made the mistake which was their bid process' greatest vulnerability, made public comments based upon confidential knowledge.


hivltge 7 years ago

If the city is foolish enough to take this job away from Duckels without proof that they some how where the only ones to learn the numbers before hand.How is it that Duckels some how was the only ones to hear about or use this "leak"? Come on! I hope they have some legal action they can take. Then I hope an out of town contractor gets it on the rebid... would serve the ones that started this right. There may be things to fix in the bidding process for sure. Better fix it on the city and private level!! But to waste more time and money???


Tubes 7 years ago

Sounds like it's time for Joe Kracum (and his squirrelly process) to go. This was clearly an expensive and enormous failure. City Council should endorse the "buy local" campaign and find someone here locally that can get this done right. Pay this guy no more.


oldskoolstmbt 7 years ago

kracum (and his firm) should be fired...why was he a part of 'the bidding process' ?....the city needs to re-vamp the way they are doing things....this is such bullsh*t...and, mind you, is not the first time this has happened...nor, will it be the last ...time to hire a bidding firm to train and set boundries for the council...


kathy foos 7 years ago

Wouldnt there be insurance coverage by Mr, Kracums firm?They must get to the bottom of it for insurance to pay out,but what about the inconvinience to the winner of the contract?Was a contract signed by Duckles at this point?It seems to me that if it was than it should be honored and the other companies sue on their own if it is applicable for improporities done to them as bidders.It doesnt make sense to cause more legal problems to correct something that is history.


oldskoolstmbt 7 years ago

of course a contract was signed...the city needs to change how they bid this out (process, THAT IS THE PROBLEM...not fred, ed, or connell)...just like any other job for other companies...cut and dry...sealed bids at a deadline...NOT 'good ol boy gets the bids'...then 'good ol boys get together to see if another good ol boy should get the job'...AND THEN put your last and final bid in (after everyone has knoweledge of the OTHER numbers..or RANGE)....JOHN WAYNE...are you hearing this?LOL!


Scott Wedel 7 years ago

I'd be stunned if whatever insurance were to pay. Why in the world would insurance be willing to pay for any part of what went wrong? To pay for hurt feelings of those that didn't get the bid? Their answer would be that the City Council heard the same facts and awarded the contract to Duckels so the people in charge of the process already said the flaws were not sufficient to deny awarding the contract. And this is the sort of claim that is stupid to file because the insurance will just raise their rates for the redevelopment agency and the SB City government to cover the costs of spurious claims.

This would be like shooting yourself in the foot. Insisting to all that it was fine. Deciding that it did hurt so operating on yourself. After your self surgery goes poorly to then put in a claim of malpractice! The City and redevelopment agency self mutilated themselves.


kathy foos 7 years ago

That is so true Scott,only maybe the redevelopment agency shot Steamboat council in the foot?Its still self mutilation the way they set out to correct the wrong by stopping Mr. Duckles after giving him the contract.


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