Largo Dismisses Complaint Against Chosen Architect
By Leo Coughlin
LARGO - The architects' fight in Largo has apparently blown over, with the city dismissing allegations by a firm that was not first choice.
Mike Staffopolous, an assistant city manager, answered the contentions of Wannemacher Jensen, a firm that was the second pick of the City Commission for the design and planning of a re-do of the Highland Recreation Center.
Ed Armstrong, a lawyer for Wannemacher Jensen Architects, sent a protest to the city May 10 opposing the award 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.
In short, Armstrong's letter said that the basis of Wanannemacher Jensen's protest was "numerous factual misrepresentations and omissions made by Gould Evans in its written bid submittal and in its oral presentation to the City Commission."
Gould Evans answered the charge within a week, denying the allegations and giving a detailed response.
Staffopoulos's letter late last week said that Gould Evans' work references and presentation were not incorrect and that the firm was qualified to do the work on the $2.6 million contract.
The latest word is that Wannemacher Jensen will appeal the decision to the City Commission, but the firm reportedly will not, in any event, seek to secure the contract.
With Wannemacher Jensen's complaint now apparently rendered moot, the city will begin negotiations for the job with Gould Evans. Should they fail, the next step would be to deal with Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative.
Another matter under review by city officials is the use of inmate labor.
When Commissioner Curtis Holmes suggested at last week's commission meeting that prisoners held at the county jail be used to pick up trash on medians to save the city money, Mayor Pat Gerard said that this was already being done.
Sheriff Jim Coats confirmed last week that inmate labor is used by Largo and Henry Schubert, an assistant city manager, said a report is being prepared on the matter.
Schubert said that inmate labor is often not available and that there are problems of transportation and supervision, "so their use, while helpful, is not completely free."
Though the November city election is far off, Woody Brown has indicated that he will be a candidate for re-election to hold his seat 6 on the City Commission.
At the same time, Diane Bruner, the city clerk, said that candidate guides are now available for the November 2 election. Also with a term ending on the commission is Harriet Crozier. She has not yet indicated whether she will seek re-election.
The qualifying period actually begins at 8 a.m. July 12 and runs to 5 p.m. July 26. But candidates may pick up petition cards now and can submit forms and petition cards two weeks before the beginning of the qualifying period.
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