City Council puts brakes on EnviroIssues contract

A proposed contract for construction outreach during the SE Pioneer Way project is too much for too little, according to the Oak Harbor City Council.

In a unanimous decision Tuesday evening, the council voted to delay making a decision on a $149,897 contract with EnviroIssues, a Seattle-based consulting firm, until its Jan. 4 meeting so that the total might be reduced and the scope of work refined.

“The majority’s concern was that it was such a large amount of money,” said City Councilman Danny Paggao, who is also the mayor pro-tem.

Since April, the city has paid EnviroIssues $79,085 to develop a construction outreach and marketing plan aimed at mitigating the impacts of the controversial SE Pioneer Way project on downtown businesses and the general public. Although aspects of the marketing side of the plan are still being hammered out, city staff proposed the council rehire the consulting firm to complete the rest of the work.

According to the terms of the new contract, EnviroIssues would manage a 24-hour construction information telephone hotline and email service, conduct in-person outreach and meet weekly with the contractor. It would also provide monthly progress reports to the city and assist with city-sponsored outreach events and promotional activities.

While the scope of work called for 1,683 hours of work over a 12-month period, Paggao and several other council members expressed concern that it required a firm representative to be present in Oak Harbor just five days out of the month.

“We need to see someone down there every day,” Paggao said.

“That was the biggie for me,” City Councilman Jim Campbell agreed.

Others were worried that allocating so much money to outreach may be premature as the city has yet to receive bids from general contractors for construction. That amount, which is expected to represent about half of the total $8.35 million project cost, will be a large factor in determining whether the project stays within budget.

Based on the council’s input, Oak Harbor Development Services Director Steve Powers said the contract will be revised to include work that needs to be done in January and February, such as speaking with downtown business owners about details concerning the burying of power and utility lines underground.

Powers did not anticipate that council’s decision would in any way delay the construction timeline, which calls for work to begin in February and wrap up around October.

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