Seventh Street bid estimates to see light of day

Tourists cross Seventh Street on their way to the pedestrian bridge as traffic fills the street earlier this week in Glenwood Springs.
Kyle Mills / Post Independent

After facing mounting pressure from the public and two filed open-records requests, the Glenwood Springs City Council unanimously approved releasing the bid estimates associated with the 7th Street Beautification Project Thursday night.

Earlier, the council had voted 4-3 to keep those pre-bid engineering estimates secret, in an effort to try to gain more competitive bids.

At that contentious June 7 City Council meeting, a motion made by Councilor Shelley Kaup requested, “full, transparent disclosure on scope of the project, phasing of the project, estimated cost and possible funding sources.” The motion was ultimately rejected by Councilors Steve Davis, Jim Ingraham, Todd Leahy and Mayor Michael Gamba in a 4-3 vote. Councilors Jonathon Godes and Rick Voorhees sided with Kaup.

It wasn’t such a lengthy, nor contentious discussion this time around when council at its regular Thursday meeting considered a proposed estimates policy, which had two components.

The first being whether or not council should approve, “a policy not to release or discuss in open session estimates for construction projects past 50 percent design estimates.”

The second aspect involved whether or not to release the previously withheld bid estimates for the Seventh Street Beautification Project.

For its part, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent filed a Colorado Open Records (CORA) request on Monday asking for any and all correspondence between city staff or the Downtown Development Authority and City Council at public work sessions or regular meetings related to the Seventh Street plans.

City Clerk Catherine Fletcher informed the Post Independent the following day, “I am estimating the request to take approximately 15 hours with the first hour free the cost will be approximately $420 … which, if done by a single government employee, equates to $30 an hour.” Fletcher elaborated, “If the search is less the city will reimburse the amount back. If the search had additional costs above the $420 you will be required to pay that amount.”

Another private citizen, Tony Hershey, also filed his own, separate public record request seeking all cost estimates associated with the Seventh Street work.

“The only thing that it would be helpful to have clear direction on is the release of engineers’ estimates and other estimates related to the Seventh Street project,” Glenwood Springs City Attorney Karl Hanlon informed council at the Thursday meeting. “As you know we have a couple of pending CORA requests that would just make that easy for us to answer.” Councilor Ingraham made a motion stating, “With respect to the estimates policy, that we continue to deliberate that in public fashion over the next two to three months and finalize it in the context of overall what I’ve referred to as our bidding practices, number one.

“Second part of the motion I guess would be that with respect to the current engineering estimates for the Seventh Street Project that those would be made available, would be made public and would be available to the public prior to a special meeting we will have to consider the Seventh Street Project.”

Davis quickly seconded the motion, and Gamba and Leahy also flipped their previous votes.

“My personal belief is that the community needs to have more conversation on Seventh Street; now we are going to get more conversation,” Councilor Godes told the Post Independent Friday.

That conversation will take place at a special meeting slated for 6 p.m. Monday July 16.

“It will be a single-agenda meeting. It will only be related to the Seventh Street Project and public comment will be encouraged,” Mayor Gamba explained of the move to hold a special meeting.

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