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Camp Dresser & McKee wins Ullrich expansion

Friday, June 23, 2000 by

Contract, beating matrix winner Carollo Engineers

Council directs City Manager to look at matrix again

The City Council, on its first split vote, surprised staff and Carollo Engineers Thursday by awarding a $2.1 million contract for work on expansion of the Ullrich Water Treatment Plant to Camp Dresser & McKee (CDM), even though Carollo scored highest on the city’s matrix. In addition, Council directed City Manager Jesus Garza to reconsider the design of that matrix.

Staff had recommended Carollo, as did the city’s Water and Wastewater Commission. Voting for CDM were Mayor Kirk Watson, Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman, and Council Members Raul Alvarez and Daryl Slusher. Voting against were Council Members Beverly Griffith, Danny Thomas and Will Wynn. Watson said that since CDM is already working at Ullrich and has helped the city win awards for water treatment, it seemed unwise to change firms. As for the matrix, he said, “I wonder if we shouldn’t be tweaking something there.” Those who voted with him expressed similar sentiments. Council Members noted that Carollo received six points and CDM received no points under the section “Previous City of Austin Work.” That section rewards companies that have done less work for the city. Garza explained how the matrix came about. “I remember at the airport there was an engineering firm that we had been using for 10 years. The engineering and architectural community came to the council and said, ‘How unfair. This work needs to be spread around.’ As a consequence, the matrix evolved to take into consideration those companies that had done a great deal of work with us, as opposed to those companies that had done no work with us. But we can go back and re-look at that matrix, and quite frankly, work with the engineering community, because in the end that mouse trap really was something of their own creation.”

C. B. Hagar, project manager for Phoenix-based Carollo, seemed shocked at what he termed, "a last-minute reversal by City Council." Carollo scored 104.6 points with CDM right behind at 102.3 points. "To have a 2.3 point edge over a competing firm in bidding usually won by a fraction of a point, is just a little hard to swallow," Hagar told In Fact Daily. When asked about the point differential between the two firms, CDM's Vice President, Allen D. Woelke, said, "We believe the City Council selected the most qualified firm." Asked whether Carollo had been out-politicked, Hagar said team members had followed the city's, "no-lobbying" rule.

Nikelle Mead of Brown McCarroll & Oaks Hartline, attorney for Carollo, said she would be researching the question of how to file a protest for her client. Whether she files a formal protest or not, Mead said she would be visiting with council members next week to find out why Carollo was denied the contract. Griffith and Mead had hoped to talk the rest of the City Council into reconsidering the item later in the council meeting, but were not successful in that maneuver. Mead said her client’s proposal would have saved the city $75 million in crypto-sporidium treatment. Carollo team members said the selection process is very complex and that they should have been granted an extension to prove to the council that they were the more qualified firm.

Housing project developer takes Round One

In battle to put housing in midst of industry

Valid petition means developer will have to get one more vote

On a vote of 5-2, Thursday, City Council approved on first reading a change of zoning that may allow a developer to build affordable housing in the 2800 block of Montopolis. The complex would be within 500 feet of Praxair Distribution, Inc., which stores a number of very hazardous materials, including chlorine and cyline. Council Members Daryl Slusher and Will Wynn voted “no.” In order to overcome a valid petition opposing the change, the developer, must secure six votes on second and third readings. Those opposing the change are mostly industrially-zoned businesses adjacent to the property. Several of those voting in favor of the proposal Thursday, including Mayor Kirk Watson, said they might not do so in August, when it comes back for second and third readings. There are no council meetings in July, but John Noell of Urban Design Group said a first reading approval would be enough to give his group a shot at low income housing credits to be disbursed by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. That agency will meet on July 28, he said. Alice Glasco, director of the Development Review and Inspection Department, said, “A new study (of Montopolis) is currently underway. The University of Texas has a plan that the neighborhood is beginning to review.” She said that plan is tentatively scheduled for City Council consideration on Aug. 24. Several industrial neighbors, including Praxair and Advanced Micro Devices, requested that the council delay action until the plan is completed. A number of Montopolis residents told City Council they want more affordable housing in their neighborhood even if that means putting those units near the industrial plant. Under questioning by Slusher, Ron Buys, a hazardous material expert with the Fire Department, said Praxair typically stores anhydrous ammonia, chlorine, and “cyline—which ignites upon contact with air.” Slusher was momentarily speechless when he heard that bit of information. Buys explained that anyone within 900 feet of a chlorine gas release would have to be evacuated within 30 minutes. Slusher and Council Member Will Wynn voted against the zoning change, citing safety concerns. New Council Member Raul Alvarez made the motion to change the zoning. Alvarez has worked with the eastside environmental group PODER (People Organized in Defense of the Earth and her Resources). The group’s leader, Susana Almanza, told the Council, “Here is an opportunity not to let Industrial (zoning) move further and further and further into our community. We do have a crisis. We have two or three families living together. The Fairway Apartments have a year and a half waiting list to get in. I am here approving because it’s so badly needed here in Austin.” Council Member Beverly Griffith said it is her general policy not to vote against a valid petition. “In this case…If I honored the valid petition, then that piece of land would not be available for housing, it would only be available for industrial use. I think it is so important to have more housing. Also, it may be a little self-serving on the part of folks with the valid petition…because they would keep a much more intense zoning, which is industrial.” Following the vote, Noell said, “This is a two-way street,” noting that his clients can object to Praxair’s hazardous chemical permits, just as the company can object to his client’s request for a zoning change..

Help wanted… The city's Environmental Board, which makes recommendations on critical issues involving water quality, among others, currently only has six members. Chair Buzz Avery is retiring at the end of the month and only four members attended this week's meeting.The terms of two members are set to expire on July 1. Two of the vacant seats are reserved for members with professional expertise in geology, hydrology, civil engineering, land planning or ecology… Second shoe drops… The Texas Third Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of the City of Austin in the case entitled L.S. Ranch, Ltd. and Circle C Land Corp. v City of Austin. The appeals court issued its ruling in accordance with last week's decision by the Texas Supreme Court, which overturned a law allowing creation of Water Quality Protection Zones. This case originated in Hays County. District Judge Jack Robison, whose decision was reversed, had ruled in favor of the developers. .

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