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Barbetta Tweaks County Administrator Over Siesta Beach Project Talks

County commissioners will hear a presentation on Siesta Beach project on Dec. 11, but one commissioner wishes it was sooner.

County Commissioner Joe Barbetta appears to be none too pleased with County Administrator Randall Reid's approach to share information about the Siesta Beach project.

Reid addressed the project in a Herald-Tribune guest column on Sunday giving a full, official explanation on what the exact price of the project, which was last tabbed at $21.5 million, and how the now $27.5 million project is structured. A firm, Kimley Horns and Associates, is working on the plans.

Barbetta wasn't impressed with the approach of the Siesta Beach project coverage on Reid's end. 

"Your utilization of the Press last week, coupled with the comments in your Guest Column [Sunday], without meeting first with the Board, along with the architects and engineers, the consultants on the project, to gather all the facts and hear the entire story from all sides, leaves a lot to be desired," Barbetta wrote. "I trust that we will have an open discussion of this entire situation at our next Board meeting."

Here's Reid's breakdown of the project in The Herald-Tribune:

Design, engineering, permitting and inspection fees for the project total about $4.8 million. With construction costs estimated at $16.7 million, the Board of County Commissioners approved a total project budget of $21.5 million in September 2011.

As the project progresses, the consulting, engineering and design firm is required to submit project plans at 30 percent, 60 percent and 90 percent of completion. In June, the county received the 60 percent design plan from the firm with construction costs totaling about $21.4 million -- about $5 million over the construction cost budget. When the estimated cost for design, engineering, permitting and inspection services is added in, the total cost of the project would reach $26.7 million.

County staff has not accepted the 60 percent of completion project plan and is working with the design and engineering firm to reduce the construction cost to the original $16.7 million budget approved by county commissioners. Options for achieving this goal will be presented to commissioners Dec. 11 for their direction on the project. We're committed to an aggressive construction schedule to put people to work and save money on costs.

The thing is, Barbetta believes the County Commission should have been brought up to speed fully earlier on Siesta Beach and not in a presentation set for Dec. 11.

"Furthermore, why didn't we hear about any of this from the period of June 14th, when the 60 percent design documents were submitted to staff, right through the next five months until this newspaper article, which I believe you and Staff [initiated] to explain the "Binder?" Barbetta wrote. "Were the Consulting Architects and Engineers given an opportunity to review the Binder or provide any input or information for it, prior to it being released to the Press?" 

"Mr. Harriott appeared before us several times during that five-month period and these allegations, as he states in the article below, were never brought to our attention until I questioned the status of the project and the delays, about two weeks ago. Why not?" Barbetta continued. "I am speaking only for myself, as just one Commissioner, to let you know that I am certainly not pleased as to the manner in which you and members of your Staff have handled this entire situation."

The Herald-Tribune reported that Commission Chairwoman Christine Robinson had been disappointed with the communication and even personally pulled files to get more information.

Reid is concentrating not on the press, but instead, having a binder and relevant documents ready for commissioner review to discuss the project.

"I have no evidence the binder is not complete with relevant email and documents," Reid wrote to Barbetta. "I would suggest we not be distracted by the articles and deal with the documents and binders or other input if there is any."

RAJ (Bo) McMerritt November 27, 2012 at 12:52 PM
better not ruffle the good ole' boys and girls Mr. Reid..or you will be ley-material.

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