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Builders for Oldsmar may need creativity

Contractors may soon be asked for their ideas on projects.

By TERRI BRYCE REEVES, Times Correspondent
Published December 7, 2007


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Council member Greg Rublee is a former policy analyst for the U.S. Coast Guard.

OLDSMAR - City Council members say they have little interest in, as the old song says, paving paradise to put up a parking lot.

And to avoid doing that, they're considering changing the way they do business.

The proposal: to enlist the creativity of the builders the city hires. The city would ask contractors not only for a price, but for their best thinking on how to achieve a specific result - such as creating an environmentally friendly parking lot.

The idea came up Tuesday night during a council discussion onVeterans Memorial Park.

Council members recently approved improving the 5-acre waterfront park.

This week, their staff asked them to okay a $141,000 contract with Keystone Excavators to build drainage ponds, a driveway and parking at the park.

But the idea of paving the parking area irked Vice Mayor Suzanne Vale and others who had indicated they wanted pervious surfaces to absorb rainwater and prevent oil, gas and pesticides from being flushed into Tampa Bay.

"I thought there was going to be some further discussion about what was going to be put down for the driveway and the parking," Vale said. "Now we've just got more asphalt going in. ...I object to it."

Leisure Services director Lynn Rives said he looked into using pavers like those used in nearby streetscaping projects. But they cost four times as much. Not only that, he added, the Southwest Florida Water Management District says pavers "are impervious."

How about using colored pavers for accents around the edge of the parking lot, Rives asked.

That's not what council members had in mind. They seemed to want something better, more absorbent, maybe with holes. But they didn't know what it was.

Then Council member Greg Rublee, a former policy analyst for the U.S. Coast Guard, offered a suggestion he said was very popular and effective.

"It's outcome-oriented contracting," he said. Instead of simply looking for a contractor to do a particular job, the city could specify what it wants the outcome to be.

In this case, that would be a parking lot with a permeable surface.

"You give bidders an opportunity to come back with proposals that maybe we had never been able to conceive of ourselves," Rublee said. "Everybody else is getting on board around the country, but we don't do it. I think its time we start doing it. You might find you can satisfy some members on this council who are concerned with what is being done in that park and how."

Mayor Jim Ronecker thought it was a good idea, and the council ultimately decided to hold off - for now - on hiring a contractor for the parking lot.

"There's no harm in looking," Ronecker said.

So did Vale.

"Just putting down a strip of concrete," she said, "is not the answer anymore."

Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at treeves@tampabay.rr.com.

[Last modified December 6, 2007, 22:49:59]


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