Contractor scolds EP, says to expect lawsuit

Those who have been around official kind of meetings are seldom surprised when the short, innocent-appearing agenda is the one that “comes home to bite you” or the one that turns into anything but a quick and easy agenda. That was once again demonstrated at last Tuesday’s Eagle Point City Council meeting.

Under “public comment for items not on the agenda,” Mark Courtney, C&C Construction LLC, took the podium to dress down the city regarding recent approval of the Ward-Henshaw firm, of Canby, Ore., as the general contractor on the old federal water storage reservoir. Courtney said the bid was $241,852 more than other bids.

Courtney asked the council if they had full knowledge when they approved the bid, saying it was probably the worst bid book he had ever seen. (It was put together by Hardey Engineering, based on an ODOT form that has been used for a lengthy period of time.)

Courtney repeated upon several occasions that the council approved an out of area firm, not a local firm and did it on a technicality involving a particular section of the bid book.

Courtney apparently would have been a sub to the firm of Shearer & Associates, which also happens to be located in the state of  Washington. Ward-Henshaw is an Oregon firm.

Courtney said “You’ll get sued no matter what you do. In my opinion the city has its butt hanging out there a mile. You have the right to override the bid. It should go out to re-bid.”

Councilor Allan Curriston asked if he was going to sue the city. “(I) will probably go together with someone,” replied Courtney, and asking otherwise why  would he waste his time at the meeting.

The technicality Courtney referenced was Section 14.01 of the bid book. Eagle Point’s city attorney, Joe Kellerman, of Hornecker, Cowling, Hassen & Heysell, LLP, had previously addressed the issue of Section 14.01 in response to Shearer’s attorney. Kellerman pointed to the “technical” discrepancy which occurred by not following directions in the use of words and figures. Case law says such a difference favors words. In his letter to Shearer’s attorney, Kellerman pointed out other deficiencies in the bid as well. “Your client ignored the instructions to bidders, and the bid form. His bid is non-responsive,” concluded Kellerman.

Robert Miller, director of public works for Eagle Point, was unable to attend the council meeting because of a family emergency, but he later verified that Courtney had talked with him on more than one occasion. Miller said the city explained to Courtney that they had even made additional allowances for local subs in their effort to keep the work  local. Forms were not properly filled out and case law says  a bid is invalid when it is subject to more than one interpretation, according to Kellerman and Miller.

There were two issues on the agenda. The first item was a public hearing on the sidewalk at 118 Main St., which is the vacant lot at the corner of Royal and Main next to the District 9 building. It is owned by Ron Grensky.

The discussion on that issue was also extended.  Gensky maintained the city has no authority to make him pay for a sidewalk, nor said Grensky, does the city have the right to lien his property to pay for a sidewalk.

The city owns the right of way where a sidewalk could go. 

The question of whether the property had ever been developed or platted had bearing on the issue.  On this issue, Kellerman said he didn’t know the answer because he had never seen documentation. Hussell advised the property had been platted as had the entire city.

The issue came down to accepting an ordinance claiming the city had the authority to require a property owner to install a sidewalk and giving Grensky 60 days to start a sidewalk or else the city would make the improvement and lien his property. 

A motion was finally made for the city to  to construct the proposed sidewalk, including 2 ft. x 2 ft. squares requested by the economic development committee as part of the downtown improvement; but without a driveway and at no expense to Grensky. It passed 4-0. Rick Tree, Pat Jacobson and Terry Christianson were all absent.

The last issue on the agenda was to establish an interim bus route using Lava Street and the alley that runs between Lava and Main St. The alley would be posted for use strictly for the school buses at specific times of day. The city will seal coat the alley surface. With no funds from the city or school district for a crossing guard at Main and Shasta, both parties agreed this would ease the congestion and make the area safer for children. The buses will continue to load and unload in the parking area by Little Butte school. 
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent


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