Duckels asks for delay of base area contract action

Contractor responds to protest letter, also asks for investigation and public apology

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— The dispute over a $4.5 million contract for base area construction intensified today.

In a five-page letter released shortly before noon — five hours before city officials are scheduled to act on the contract in Centennial Hall — Duckels Construction asked that city officials postpone that action until April 27 and requested a police investigation into the bid process, along with public apologies from Native Excavating, Connell Resources and the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority.

“We understand the urgency to resolve this issue and move forward with the project, but we feel that we have not had enough time to respond to the issues and allegations brought forth in the public sector,” the letter states.

Later, the letter states that “Duckels Construction denies that we were provided any information related to the original pricing proposals, neither specific pricing nor the order of contractor prices. …Duckels Construction is insulted and has suffered public defamation as a result of these false allegations.”

The letter is a response to the protest filed April 13 by Native and Connell, who along with Duckels were finalists for the base area contract that the Steamboat Springs City Council, acting as the city’s redevelopment authority, awarded to Duckels April 6.

That award came after a nearly two-hour discussion in Centennial Hall that raised questions about leaked bids and the integrity of the proposal process, which Native and Connell called “an absolute failure and manipulation” of pricing for the potentially two-year, publicly funded project at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

Steamboat Springs City Manager Jon Roberts has recommended that at tonight's meeting, the City Council rescind the contract awarded to Duckels and re-bid the entire project.

///Re-bid costs///

Duckels said today that in its view, re-bidding the project would “fall seriously short of providing the fresh start and clean slate that is hoped for,” citing the additional costs and delays of a re-bid.

Work scheduled for this year includes partial construction of a public promenade and daylighting a segment of Burgess Creek, both at the immediate ski base.

Roberts and base area redevelopment coordinator Joe Kracum have said re-bidding this year’s work could cost the city’s urban renewal authority up to $30,000 for re-designing the project’s parameters, and could delay the start of work by two months.

Duckels said the fiscal impacts could be much larger, citing costs of scheduling and other preparations by Duckels, its subcontractors and suppliers.

“A detailed claim for reimbursement of Duckels’ costs since award would be submitted for payment (in the event of a re-bid),” the letter stated. “These additional costs and claims related to rebidding (sic) the project are likely to total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Company vice president Derick Duckels said today that a re-bid process would be fundamentally flawed given the first bid process and release of itemized pricing information.

He said the company believes City Council, acting as the city’s redevelopment authority, should evaluate the initial proposals, which were submitted before a range of initial bid prices was released publicly by Kracum and reported March 16 in the Steamboat Today.

Kracum’s release of the price ranges occurred in a public discussion with Routt County commissioners. Roberts has called that release a violation of the city’s procurement regulations.

To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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