Com­pet­ing bid­der protests panel’s ball­park de­sign pick

The Wichita Eagle - - Front Page - BY CAR­RIE RENGERS [email protected]­chi­taea­gle.com

The Wi­chita City Coun­cil hasn’t of­fi­cially ap­proved a de­sign-build team for the city’s new $75 mil­lion Mi­nor League ball­park, but there’s al­ready been a protest over the rec­om­mended group.

On Tues­day, the Coun­cil will vote on a se­lec­tion com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tion of Kansas City, Mo.-based JE Dunn Con­struc­tion, which is team­ing with Over­land Park­based DLR Group and three Wi­chita com­pa­nies: Schae­fer John­son Cox Frey Ar­chi­tec­ture, Pro­fes­sional Engi­neer­ing Con­sul­tants and Eby Con­struc­tion.

At is­sue in a protest by a com­pet­ing team is whether the JE Dunn team meets a key re­quire­ment to be se­lected, which is that it has built at least three sim­i­lar Ma­jor or Mi­nor League ball­parks.

There were three groups that bid on the project, in­clud­ing a team com­prised of Cal­i­for­nia-based AECOM Hunt, Kansas City-based Pop­u­lous and Wi­chita firms Dondlinger Con­struc­tion and GLMV Ar­chi­tec­ture, which is the team that filed the protest.

The third is Michi­gan­based Bar­ton Malow, Dal­las-based HKS Ar­chi­tects and Wi­chita-based Jaco Gen­eral Con­trac­tor and WDM Ar­chi­tects.

In a Nov. 19 let­ter to the city’s con­tract com­pli­ance of­fi­cer, Dondlinger vice pres­i­dent of com­mer­cial con­struc­tion Troy Kapels ques­tioned if the JE Dunn team has built at least three Ma­jor or Mi­nor League ball­parks.

Kapels, who didn’t re­turn calls for com­ment, noted in the let­ter that the city’s re­quest for pro­pos­als on the

ball­park stip­u­lated that teams “must have ex­pe­ri­ence in the con­struc­tion” of those pro­fes­sional ball­parks.

“Our team re­quests the City pro­vide doc­u­men­ta­tion to our team that the JE Dunn Con­struc­tion team met the ex­pe­ri­ence re­quire­ments for the com­plete con­tracted ser­vices of such work,” Kapels wrote, em­pha­siz­ing words the RFP con­tained.

“Please also pro­vide a copy of or ac­cess to the pro­posal of JE Dunn Con­struc­tion so we can also con­firm their pro­posal meets the min­i­mum ex­pe­ri­ence out­lined in the RFP . . . . ”

Kapels also re­quested tab­u­lated scores of each team.

It does not ap­pear com­pli­ance of­fi­cer Chris Haislett’s re­ply con­tained the doc­u­men­ta­tion Kapels re­quested.

Ac­cord­ing to the RFP, the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee had to rank pro­pos­als through cer­tain cri­te­ria, the bulk of which was “ex­pe­ri­ence and

AC­CORD­ING TO THE RFP, THE SE­LEC­TION COM­MIT­TEE HAD TO RANK PRO­POS­ALS THROUGH CER­TAIN CRI­TE­RIA, THE BULK OF WHICH WAS “EX­PE­RI­ENCE AND CA­PA­BIL­I­TIES.”

ca­pa­bil­i­ties.”

The builder/gen­eral con­trac­tor was to com­prise 30 per­cent of that ex­pe­ri­ence, and the de­sign pro­fes­sion­als were to com­prise 20 per­cent.

In a Nov. 21 re­ply to Kapels, Haislett wrote that the JE Dunn team pro­posal “iden­ti­fied past projects that showed they have the ex­pe­ri­ence in sta­dium con­struc­tion.”

“Your protest ques­tions only whether JE Dunn Con­struc­tion met the re­quire­ment. The ex­pe­ri­ence and ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the en­tire de­sign build team were eval­u­ated,” Haislett wrote.

He wrote that if the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee solely re­viewed JE Dunn, that would not have fol­lowed the RFP re­quire­ment.

Haislett fur­ther wrote that that kind of scru­tiny would have elim­i­nated Dondlinger from con­tention as well.

“I deny your protest of the sta­dium over­site com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tion to award,” Haislett wrote.

He then gave Kapels three busi­ness days to ap­peal to an in­ter­nal au­di­tor, which Kapels did not do.

“I think the con­tro­versy was did ev­ery­body on the team have to have ex­pe­ri­ence or com­bined did they have to have ex­pe­ri­ence?” said Joe John­son of Schae­fer John­son Cox Frey.

John­son said he hasn’t seen Kapels’ let­ter and doesn’t want to say much, but he said his team does have the nec­es­sary ex­pe­ri­ence with the ball­parks stated in the RFP.

“I can tell you this is the rea­son we se­lected DLR,” John­son said. “They had so many projects to show us.”

Whether those projects are with Ma­jor or Mi­nor League ball­parks is un­clear, though.

Don Bar­num, DLR’s global sports leader, did not re­turn a call for com­ment.

DLR’s web­site shows col­lege and arena work, but Ma­jor and Mi­nor League ball­parks aren’t im­me­di­ately ev­i­dent as they are with com­pa­nies on the other two bid­ding teams.

For in­stance, Pop­u­lous, which is part of the Dondlinger team, lists 20 Ma­jor League ball­parks, 76 Mi­nor League Ball­parks and spring train­ing fa­cil­i­ties and 19 Ball­park of the Year awards.

The Bar­ton Malow site says: “The stats say it all – Bar­ton Malow has not missed an open­ing game since our first sports en­gage­ment: gen­eral con­tract­ing for the Detroit Tigers at the old Navin Field, 70 years ago.”

It also lists “Cam­den Yards – the first “retro” ma­jor league base­ball park of the era.”

Haislett says the JE Dunn team not only met the RFP’s re­quire­ment but “they ex­ceeded it.” He says he per­son­ally doesn’t have doc­u­men­ta­tion to sup­port that but that the mayor and City Coun­cil of­fices do.

City spokes­woman Me­gan Lovely said city pur­chas­ing man­ager Melinda Walker has that in­for­ma­tion and would sup­ply it by the end of Thurs­day. Walker did not call or e-mail, and Lovely didn’t re­turn a fol­low-up call.

Nor did Mayor Jeff Long­well, who was on the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee, re­turn a re­quested call to dis­cuss the bid­ding protest.

Nor did City Coun­cil mem­ber Jeff Blubaugh, who also was on the com­mit­tee.

City Coun­cil mem­ber Cindy Clay­comb was the only other City Coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the com­mit­tee, which in­cluded oth­ers as well.

Clay­comb said how many Ma­jor or Mi­nor League ball­parks bid­ders had built wasn’t an is­sue that arose.

“I didn’t go through and count them,” she said.

Speak­ing in gen­eral Clay­comb said that “from the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee’s per­spec­tive, those pro­pos­als would have had to (make) it through a pre­screen­ing process.”

“We shouldn’t have seen any­thing if those weren’t qual­i­fied pro­pos­als.”

TRAVIS HEYING The Wi­chita Ea­gle

Lawrence-Du­mont Sta­dium, home of Wi­chita base­ball for years, has been re­duced to rub­ble to make way for a new ball­park.

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