City reverses course on engineering contract
by Nick Rappley | Patterson Irrigator
Jan 17, 2013 | 1280 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Patterson City Council has voted to have Ceres-based GDR Engineering design part of a non-potable landscape irrigation system after considering another contractor that would have charged thousands of dollars more.

The vote was unanimous, with Councilman Larry Buehner absent from the Tuesday, Jan. 15, meeting.

City staff members are authorized to negotiate a contract not to exceed $21,341 for the project.

The council approved the contract as part of its consent agenda of items slated for routine approval.

Council members questioned the recommendation after a rare 2-2 deadlock on Dec. 18, failing to award the same contract to Modesto-based Blackwater Engineering. Councilman Dominic Farinha did not attend that meeting.

Blackwater’s bid was more than $37,000.

Mayor Luis Molina and Councilwoman Sheree Lustgarten voted for the Blackwater Engineering contract in December, while Councilwoman Deborah Novelli and Councilman Larry Buehner voted no.

City Manager Rod Butler said the city staff initially made its recommendation based on quality, rather than selecting the least expensive qualified proposal. On Tuesday, the city considered the lowest bid, which changed the outcome.

The staff initially recommended Blackwater Engineering based on three criteria: project understanding, experience and qualifications, and responsiveness to a request for proposal from the city, according to a staff report written by Mike Willett, Patterson’s director of public works.

Curtis Jorritsma, capital projects manager for the city of Patterson, used the same guidelines for a federal Community Development Block Grant project to replace water pipes on South Fourth Street downtown that was also on the consent agenda Tuesday. However, federal project guidelines and criteria tend to focus more on quality than on cost, said Ken Irwin, city director of engineering.

Jorritsma told the City Council on Tuesday that because city funds and not federal grant funds would pay for the irrigation system, the city could follow less stringent guidelines including cost as a consideration.

Irwin said he did not take part in the recommendation process because he recently worked for GDR Engineering. He was hired by the city in December.

Because GDR has done work for the city in the past, it has already done much of the underground mapping needed to design the non-potable water system. As a result, the company was able to submit a much lower bid, Irwin said.

Non-potable water systems, sometimes called purple pipe, use reclaimed treated wastewater that does not meet federal and state guidelines for water quality and cannot be consumed. It can be used for landscape irrigation, however, and the city’s non-potable irrigation system has lessened the use of higher-quality water to maintain city lawns, shrubs and trees.

Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31, or nick@pattersonirrigator.com.

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