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Victoria council approves restroom construction at new park

By Sonny Long
Dec. 20, 2011 at 6:20 a.m.
Updated Dec. 21, 2011 at 6:21 a.m.


OTHER COUNCIL ACTION

Also Tuesday night, the Victoria City Council:

Approved an ordinance amending the city code regarding Transfer Ambulance permits.Approved a professional services agreement with Keep Victoria Beautiful for $25,000 for litter control, landscaping services, notification services for neglectful landowners and other beautification services.Approved a resolution to accept a Homeland Security grant for $172,425.60 with no city match required, for mobile data computers and software to operate the fire department computers.Received a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association. City Manager Charmelle Garrett said this was the 28th year for the city to receive the award. Received a Five Star Exemplary Award from the Texas Department of State Health Services, Vital Statistics Unit for City Secretary Scarlet Swoboda. Swoboda, who has been Victoria city secretary for 11 years, has received the Five Star award 10 times and Exemplary status three times, reported city attorney Thomas Gwosdz. Took no action on proposed amendments to the city's charter. Mayor Will Armstrong recommended postponing any action until next year, closer to the date an election could be called to coincide with the City Council election.

In a split vote, the Victoria City Council approved construction of a public restroom at the Lone Tree Community Park at a cost of $174,313.

Both Councilman Gabe Soliz and Councilman Joe Truman asked that the item be removed from Tuesday's consent agenda and questioned if local contractors were allowed to bid on the project.

"We didn't go out for bids. This was a BuyBoard bid," said Doug Cochran, parks and recreation director. "The engineer went through a process of comparing companies and got with an architect here in town and looked at the costs of having a construction company build this. This was the most cost effective way to do this."

BuyBoard is a local government purchasing cooperative.

"If we went local, we'd have to hire an architect to design it and go out for bids to construct it. Looking at that, the engineer decided this was the best way to go," said Cochran.

Truman, too, would have liked local contractors to have had the opportunity to bid.

"My main concern is that I would have liked to have kept that money local. At least give our local contractors a shot," Truman said.

Mayor Will Armstrong explained that it is not unusual for the city to buy from other than local vendors, especially for massed produced products.

"That's an admirable thought, and I think we all agree with you 100 percent," said the mayor. "But this is a mass-produced product. You can order it from a catalog. We buy a lot of things that are massed produced. I am going to go along with the staff's recommendation."

The restroom would be built off site and conform to American With Disabilities Act requirements and include commercial fixtures to help prevent vandalism, Cochran explained.

"I would like to at least have seen it offered locally. I know our local contractors are capable of doing it," said Truman. "If it didn't come in less, so be it."

"In the engineer's estimation, it would have cost more than $174,000 to build this restroom locally, factoring in architect's fees and construction services. We are trying to stay within the budget we have for this park development," Cochran said.

Councilman David Hagan said his main concern was financial, questioning with so many other pressing needs if this was the right time to spend $175,000 on a restroom.

"Times are pretty murky ahead. We don't know what next year is going to look like," said Hagan. "I think it's questionable timing to spend that kind of money on something that's not a necessity. It's a pretty exorbitant cost."

Hagan asked if it was possible to scale back the six-stall project.

"This is a public park. It's going to be a major facility in this community," Armstrong said.

The council voted 4-3 to approve a resolution awarding the bid to Public Restroom Company of Reno, Nev. Soliz, Truman and Hagan voted against.

The 128-acre Lone Tree Community Park, approved by the city council in June, will eventually house five soccer fields, five ball fields, a football/soccer field and a splash pad.

The park is being built with a $1 million matching grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

It is expected to be completed in May 2012.

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