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Will A Bid Protest Delay The Renourishment Project?

Posted on May 13, 2024

The big beach renourishment project the town was hoping to begin next month could be delayed again. Callan Marine has filed an official bid protest after the town awarded the project to Ahtna Marine. Town Manager Andy Hyatt tells us he now has to huddle with the Town Attorney to see if this might delay the project.

In its official protest (READ IT HERE), Callan claims that Ahtna Marine does not possess the available dredge(s) or other equipment to safely perform the project. “The nearest available and specified borrow area for the project is offshore and exposes any dredge on the project to potentially hazardous sea and weather conditions. The nearest safe harbor is 1.5 miles from the project borrow area. Ahtna’s dredges and other equipment are designed for inland operations. A prudent and responsible inland dredge operator should not expose its personnel and vessels to offshore sea and weather conditions that exceed the safe operating parameters of its equipment.”

The Callan protest went on to say that its equipment is designed to operate in offshore sea and weather conditions. Callan said the prudent thing for Fort Myers Beach to do would be to award the project to a responsible bidder with the proper offshore equipment.

The project is estimated to cost $22 million. Ahtna’s bid was $21.7 million. Callan’s bid came in at $37.2 million. This week the Town Council conditionally awarded the project to Ahtna pending the resolution of the protest. Callan also claims that due to its inferior equipment Ahtna will not be able to complete the project on time.

Town ordinance 17-01 requires a bid protester to post a bond of 5% of the total bid or $20,000, whichever is greater. Callan has submitted a $1.9 million bond to the town for payment of any costs the town incurs if the protest is determined to be frivolous.

If the protest cannot be resolved by mutual agreement within 14 days after receipt of the formal written protest (May 8, 2024), the Town Council can decide to send the protest to a hearing officer who must conduct a hearing within 15 days of the receipt of the protest. The hearing officer then has 30 days to make a ruling. The Town Council can also decide to hear the protest directly. Marine Operations Project Manager Chadd Chustz told BTR Thursday that the Town Council will take up the bid protest at its May 20th meeting.

According to the town ordinance once a formal protest is received the town must stop the contract award process until the protest is resolved. The ordinance also states that the Town Manager can continue with the contract award if its determined that there is “immediate and serious danger to the public health, safety and welfare.” The question will be, most likely for the Town Attorney, does a critically eroding beach qualify as “immediate and serious danger to the public health.”

If the protest is denied Callan would then have 30 days to file for relief in the lee County Circuit Court.


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