Parkland’s fire station re-bid decision causes controversy

Parkland’s decision to put the western fire station design and construction contract out to bid again, after initially giving the contract to a firm, has stirred up a controversy. The city had put the project on hold due to funding issues.

The firm that initially bagged the contract, ACAI Associates Inc., was among the 12 firms that responded to the city’s request this July for qualifications (RFQ). The company also made it to a review committee’s short list of five, but the panel gave the top ranking to another company, one that recently built Fire Station 80 in Coral Springs. The firm, however, was not in the running when the contract was first put out to bid.

At a recent meeting, the City Commission decided, with Commissioner Dave Rosenof voting against, to re-rank the five shortlisted firms. The decision gives city officials the ability to either go with the ranking of the review panel, which has CPZ Architects Inc. at the top, or come up with an entirely different rank list.

“This is a new location,” Neil Schiller, an attorney who represented CPZ Associates, said as he protested the city’s decision to re-rank the firms. “It is two years later. There is new technology out there. CPZ got four out of five first place votes and one second place vote. There was no bid protest filed.”

“The selection process is not over,” City Attorney Andy Maurodis said. “The selection committee decision is not final. You can decide to re-rank the firms.”

Mayor Michael Udine made it obvious that he did not like the way the issue was handled. “This is just a bad way to do business,” he said. “You have already awarded the contract to a firm and someone comes in later. I would vote to re-rank the firms.”

“The firm [ACAI Associates] worked on the first fire station,” Udine said. “There has never been a problem with that building. It was built under budget. Now, we can’t use the firm that we know built that building.”

“The commission awarded the contract to the company that built the other fire station,” Commissioner Jared Moskowitz said. “As time goes by, they lose the award. The firm that is now ranked number one did not submit a bid the first time. It is nothing against the top ranked firm, but I would like the city to award the contract to them (ACAI Associates.)”

“We were very surprised and disappointed when the city decided to put the contract to bid again.” Cindy Baldwin, principal of operations at ACAI Associates, said. “We were awarded the contract, but unfortunately, the project was put on hold due to funding issues. The scope of the project has not changed. It will just be in a different location.”

“We are happy that we will get a chance to present before the City Commission,” Baldwin said. “The city is very pleased with the quality of our work and the level of our service. We have the same staff that worked on the first fire station in the city. We have a relationship with Parkland and that is very important to us.”

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