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Town moves forward on water systems work

June 26, 2013
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

A design team has been officially selected to make improvements to the much-needed waterline replacement on Estero Island.

Mitchell & Stark Construction was approved for design-build services for Phase 1 water distribution system work by the Fort Myers Beach Town Council last Monday. Now that the qualifications process is over, contract negotiations are set to begin between Town officials and the Fort Myers-based company to replace a decrepit water utility infrastructure that has been crumbling along Estero Boulevard.

"We are working to finalize the contract," said Town Public Works Director Cathie Lewis.

Article Photos

Water distribution system work is expected to happen in the near future once a design-build team has officially signed on. Negotiations are underway with Mitchell & Stark Construction so that water main breaks, such as this one at the corner of Avenue E and Estero Boulevard last fall, end.

If negotiations are successful, Town staff stated they will proceed quickly to provide the selected team their notice to commence work after a kick-off meeting. Council must approve an initial contract before the shovel hits the ground.

"We intend to take a contract for the engineering services to Council in their first meeting in August.," said Lewis. "We plan to begin our public outreach aspects of the project shortly after Council takes action on the contract."

So far, Town officials have met unofficially with members of Mitchell & Stark Construction. During an "introductory meeting," fiscal issues of the engineering aspects were discussed.

Phase 1 will have three different sections. The first phase includes the areas of Laguna Shores, Bay Beach Road and the Basin Based Neighborhood, the latter which will also see an upgrade in its storm water collection system in its area from Carolina Avenue to Tropical Shores Way. The Basin Based Neighborhood project is being referred to as Phase 1A.

"Once we get the ground work laid, they will begin on the preliminary work on the design and focus on the Phase IA area," said Lewis.

A rough estimate for such Phase 1 work is $4.7 million. If no change of project scope occurs, Lewis stated that preliminary work could conceivably happen before the end of the calendar year and actual construction right after the first of the year.

Town officials noted that Mitchell & Stark Construction did similar water utility improvement on Marco Island and has extensive experience in all phases in this line of work. The company handled each of the phase work on Marco Island and received praise through letters to the editor, says Town Attorney Marilyn Miller.

"(On Marco Island) there were other companies that had started various aspects of the work down there and were not able to complete it successfully," said Lewis. "At least in one case, Mitchell & Stark went in and did some corrective action that resulted from work there previously."

Mitchell & Stark was also chosen for their professionalism in handling logistics and dealing with the public about complaints, according to Town Manager Terry Stewart and Lewis.

Lewis admitted the Beach water utility work will be a greater challenge on the Beach, but is confident of the selection among the tightly qualified group.

"I think that Mitchell & Stark is the best team that provided a qualifications package and presentation of all of those that submitted one," she said. "They were able to show clear evidence of working together with a team that they had put together as their public information officers. I believe the public component of this project is just as important as the work itself."

Yet another reason for the selection of Mitchell & Stark involves a hazard mitigation program grant in the Basin Based Neighborhood storm water project that has a deadline of April 2014.

"In my opinion, Mitchell & Stark will be able to meet that deadline adequately to allow the Town to get our final reimbursement request for the storm water project as well as complete the water work in that area," she said.

Lewis knows that such a needed project will be a disruption once construction begins. A strong communication process is needed to inform the community as a whole.

"There is no way that this is not going to disrupt everyone's general daily activity," she said. "The more information we get out to the public is to everyone's benefit. It's a very, very strong component of this work. We, as staff, feel confident the team that we selected has the capability of providing those services as well as the construction services of the project to the Town."

A qualifications process began with proposals opened on April 11. Nine respondents were narrowed to five when four withdrew before submitting required second step presentations to the Town's Selection Advisory Committee, which made their final ranking for recommendations to Council. Denco Construction was raked second, while MWH Constructors/Southwest Utility Systems Inc. was ranked third.



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