Architectural Firm Protests Largo Pick for Recreation Upgrade
By Leo Coughlin
LARGO - Wannemacher Jensen Architects, Inc., through its lawyer, Ed Armstrong, sent a protest to the city Monday opposing the award of the Highland Recreation Complex Design Services to Gould Evans Associates.
Gould Evans of Tampa was ranked first by the City Commission among three finalist firms to get the bid for the Request for Qualifications contract.
Jensen Wannemacher of St. Petersburg was listed second and an Orlando firm, Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative, was ranked third.
City officials were to begin negotiations with Gould Evans for a contract to be approved by the commission, and if those negotiations fell through then the next in line, Jensen Wannemacher, would be negotiated with.
At stake is a $2.6 million contract for design fees, permitting and construction manager design to extensively upgrade the Highland Recreation complex.
The protest on behalf of Jensen Wannemacher on Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns, LLP letterhead and signed by Armstrong was hand delivered to Norton Craig, the city manager, Monday.
Armstrong wrote in the letter that "The basis of WJ Architect's protest relates to the numerous factual misrepresentations and omissions made by Gould Evans in its written bid submittal and in its oral presentation to the City Commission…"
The letter, which was supported by written documentation by other architectural firms that had been involved in projects for which Gould Evans took credit, went on to say that the "misrepresentations and omissions irreparably taint the procurement process conducted by the City of Largo."
It then lists, with particularity, a series of projects that Gould Evans was involved with and that Jensen Wannamacher contends that Gould Evans failed to disclose to the City Commission its collaborations on these projects.
Among those supporting the assertions made in Armstrong's letter were Duane A. Kell, a consulting architect from Minneapolis and Wendell Burnette, an architectural firm in Phoenix, Arizona.
There was also in the documentation sent to the city Monday descriptions of projects done at University of South Florida involving Gould Evans.
Armstrong's protest letter to Craig listed nine separate projects that Gould Evans did not exclusively design but "rather were either designed in collaboration with more experienced firms or exclusively designed by other firms."
The protest also asserts that Gould Evans violated Rule 4.201 of the Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct of the American Institute of Architects by "making misleading, deceptive, or false statements or claims about its professional qualifications, experience, or performance."
Also contended is that Gould Evans did not meet the qualifications set forth in the city's code relating to the awarding of bids in that they "shall only be awarded to a 'qualified responsible and responsive bidder/proposer.'"
Given its assertions, Armstrong's protest concludes by saying, "I respectfully request the award of the bid to Gould Evans by rescinded and Wannemacher Jensen Architects, Inc., be ranked number one and awarded the bid. In the alternative, the bid to Gould Evans should be rescinded and the city re-advertise the RFQ and accept new bids."
The City Commission did its ranking of the architects at its meeting last week. Originally, 18 architectural firms responded to the city's call. Twelve of these were not interviewed and staff winnowed the six who were to the final three selectees.
A message went out Tuesday from Henry Schubert, an assistant city manager, advising Largo officials of the Jensen Wannamacher protest, and saying that the city would review the allegations and report to the City Commission as to a recommended course of action.
Return to Current Edition