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Council approves contract to develop Comprehensive Plan

Friday, October 23, 2009 by John Davidson

On a vote of 6-1, the Council on Thursday approved execution of a contract outlining the scope of work on the city’s $1.19 million contract with Wallace, Roberts & Todd, the design firm working on the city’s Comprehensive Plan. Council Member Laura Morrison voted against the motion after failing in her bid to make changes to that scope of work.

 

The Council approved $150,000 for WRT to kick off the planning process on July 23 but the real work will begin next month.

 

After reviewing the details of the contract for phases 2 and 3, Morrison said she was unsure that there were sufficient guarantees that the citizen task force would be involved in the creation of plans, rather than simply responding to plans drafted solely by WRT.

 

“One of the things that we identified as critical was that, in order to have public confidence in our plan and the planning process, we needed to ensure that we didn’t have the consultant going into a black box and creating policies and plans and then bringing them out for review,” Morrison said. “And the way we mitigated that was by ensuring that this task force would be involved at some point in the actual generation of these products.”

 

Morrison said she found four different places in the contract where it appeared that the citizen task force would not be as involved in the creation of plans as originally intended and approved by City Council. To address the issue, Morrison proposed a motion to direct city staff to renegotiate the contract.

 

Under questioning from Council Member Sheryl Cole, Mike Trimble, director of contract and land management, said he had received the proposed changes from Morrison’s staff either Wednesday night or Thursday morning. He said at the direction of Council his staff could renegotiate the contract with WRT to address Morrison’s concerns.

 

Other Council members, however, were concerned that renegotiating the contract would cause delays to a process already in place. A series of community forums for the Comprehensive Plan are currently scheduled for Nov. 9, 10 and 12, but without a contract in place with WRT these forums would most likely be canceled and rescheduled for sometime in January 2010, according to city staff.

 

To avoid such a delay, Council Member Randi Shade proposed a substitute motion to approve the contract as written but to have City Council study amendments that address the issues raised by Morrison and propose those amendments at the Nov. 5 City Council session. The motion passed 6-1, with Morrison voting against it.

 

The motion also included a friendly amendment directing city staff to edit the contract for minor mistakes. Council Member Chris Riley pointed out that, as written, the contract contained a number of grammatical errors and inaccuracies.

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