The Oak Harbor City Council will decide next Tuesday whether or not to continue working with an engineering firm that the mayor doesn’t trust.
Among the items on the City Council agenda for the regular meeting is a request to solicit “requests for qualifications” for the design of a new sewage treatment plant, which is estimated to cost $93.5 million. The meeting at City Hall begins at 6 p.m.
The national firm Carollo Engineers was chosen to do the facilities plan and preliminary design work two years ago through a “requests for qualification” process. A panel of city leaders reviewed the qualifications of four firms that applied and overwhelmingly chose Carollo to do the work, which has cost about $1.2 million so far.
Mayor Scott Dudley said the former city engineer had apparently planned to keep working with Carollo through the design phase, but he wanted the council to have the choice of looking at other firms.
“I think we should keep our options open,” he said. “I like options.”
Still, Dudley said he thinks it’s likely that the council will reject the option and continue with Carollo. He admits that going through the process of picking a new firm may delay the project by about three months, but he feels it’s worth it.
Dudley hasn’t been shy about criticizing Carollo for the work the company has done in helping the city pick a site for the treatment plant. He was upset when it came to light that the “Freund site” next to the RV park had been ruled out of consideration early in the process for unclear reasons; the mayor and others felt it would have been the least costly option if given due consideration.
He argues that the company presented information in a biased manner to encourage the council to pick the “North Crescent Harbor” site that was the choice of the former city engineer, who wanted to put a water reclamation project there.
Dudley cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of building the plant in the vicinity of Windjammer Park.
In addition, Dudley said he doesn’t completely trust the cost estimates presented by Carollo, especially for the large Freund site.
“No matter where they look, it was $93.5 million,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
An official from Carollo declined to comment, but referred the News-Times to the city engineer.