- Real Estate
- Paris Flash
AECOM, a Fortune 500 company, has been selected to handle the planning and design of the City of Paris’ $35 million replacement of deteriorated water and sewer pipes. AECOM has about 45,000 employees around the world.
The Paris City Council voted unanimously Monday night in favor of AECOM over three other large companies. In AECOM’s favor was its announced intention to make extensive use of local companies Hayter Engineering, and Harrison Walker & Harper.
The two local companies were represented in the council discussions by Reeves Hayter and Holland Harper.
AECOM vice president Don D’Adam said his company would provide approximately 41 percent of the planning and oversight, including most of its work in the early stages, with Hayter and Harper providing 59 percent of the oversight, primarily in the construction stage.
AECOM made its presentation to the council one week earlier along with three other companies — Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.; Teague, Nall and Perkins (TNP); and HDR Engineering.
The three other companies said they would consider sub-contracting part of the work to local officials, while Hayter and Harper participated with AECOM in its presentation. D’Adam had Hayter and Holland speak specifically about specific infrastructure issues in Paris that they had special insight into.
Hayter and Holland spoke to the council last week about the importance to the community of two of the local infrastructure projects — Pine Bluff Street (from Main Street to Northeast 20th Street) and Southwest 19th Street.
During the years 2010 through 2012, those two streets had some of the largest number of work orders for repairs — 158 water and sewer calls along Pine Bluff Street and 109 water and sewer trouble calls along Southwest 19th Street.
“Pine Bluff is much more than just a street. It’s a major artery through the city,” Hayter said. “It is only 30 feet wide, but it carries several thousand cars per day. It is the access for dozens of home owners along that street. It is an arterial route for people to go to work every morning. It’s an arterial route for school buses, for local truck traffic, for all kinds of situations that are vital to our quality of life and to our economy.”
One of the more significant importances of Southwest 19th, Harper noted, is that it serves Turner Pipe, which has 600 jobs; Kimberly Clark, which has more than 700 jobs; and Florida Power and Light, which has more than 100 jobs.
“We are going to work diligently and together to make sure that we keep those businesses operational and to make sure those important persons get to work every day. We will make sure that the 1,900 trucks that follow that road every day will be loading products and shipping them out are successful and in business every day,” Harper said.
“As you can see, I can’t do it without these guys,” D’Adam told the council after Hayter’s and Holland’s discussions last week on Pine Bluff Street and Southwest 19th Street. “These are things I would have never known about unless I had met these two gentlemen and put this together.”
The council also indicated it was persuaded by AECOM’s commitment to get to “hit the ground running,” as soon as 24 hours after a contract is signed. D’Adam said although he is based in Dallas, the planned project manager lives nearby, in Commerce.
D’Adam said his company could have the construction bids packaged by March.
D’Adam said a recent AECOM project at Brownsville “is a mirror image” of the Paris proposal.
In response to a question from Mayor AJ Hashmi, D’Adam said his firm’s costs should be lower, not higher, because of the involvement of Hayter Engineering and Harrison Walker and Harper.
The two firms’ specific knowledge of local conditions reduces the learning curve, the AECOM officer said.
“I really like that AECOM is committed to hiring local firms. They’re our neighbors and will do a good job for us,” District 2 Councilwoman Sue Lancaster said.
Her colleagues agreed with that assessment.
“They live here and have a vital interest in this. They want to make sure that what is done is going to last for a long time,” District 6 Councilwoman Cleonne Drake said. “I like that they would be here locally to oversee it and watch the construction.”
While the council was unanimously for the selection of AECOM, it was split 4-3 on a motion by Hashmi that two council members — District 3 Councilman John Wright and Lancaster — sit in with City Manager John Godwin in the AECOM contract negotiations.
Drake asked the mayor’s reasoning.
“I would just be more comfortable that somebody can come back to us and clearly tell us (what is going on),” Hashmi said.
District 5 Councilman Matt Frierson and District 4 Councilman Dr. Richard Grossnickle spoke against the proposal.
Frierson suggested that was preempting the city manager’s authority and expertise.
“Mr. Godwin was hired for a reason, and this is part of it. He has more experience, and it’s our responsibility to …”
“I am sure that Mr. Godwin will do it, but there is a personal interest on the part of the council. The council has shown a lot of interest in it,” the mayor responded.
“I’m really not in favor of it, either,” Grossnickle said.
“None of us has the kind of background that Mr. Godwin has, and as Matt said, he was hired to do his job. If someone wants to sit in, maybe they would be allowed to sit in and listen,” Grossnickle continued.
“But I really think that we would be better served if we let the city manager do what he’s trained to do. We don’t have any special training in it,” Grossnickle said.
Lancaster and Wright both said they would like to see council involvement in the negotiations. District 1 Councilman Aaron Jenkins said he was undecided.
Hashmi then formally made his motion to appoint Wright and Lancaster to participate in the contract negotiations.
“But we don’t have any expertise in this area,” Frierson persisted.
“We don’t have any expertise to vote on this, either. You are not an engineer, and I’m not an engineer. We make a decision based on what you have learned and studied and been presented. You don’t have to vote for it. Any further questions on it? If not, I make a motion that…”
Frierson interrupted. “Can we even vote on this. It’s not on the agenda.”
Hashmi replied: “It’s part of the…”
City Attorney Kent McIlyar looked unsure, and Wright said: “It’s procedural.”
“Yes,” Hashmi said. “I make a motion to have two council members as part of the discussion of the contract agreement. Can I have a second?”
Wright: “I’ll second.”
Hashmi: “All in favor?”
Hashmi, Wright, Jenkins and Lancaster held up their hands, and the motion carried 4-3 over the no votes of Grossnickle, Frierson and Drake.
“I think that’s it,” the mayor said. “Motion to adjourn?”
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra