After a debate about transparency and accountability, the seven members of the Albany City Council voted 5-2 Wednesday to add to the consulting contract for the city’s project to redevelop part of the Willamette riverfront.
The council acted as the Albany Revitalization Agency. The group’s vote adds about $620,000 and brings the city’s contract with consulting firm Walker Macy to about $3.1 million.
The firm developed the designs for changes in Monteith River Park, along Water Avenue between Washington and Main streets, and along the Dave Clark Path. The amendment calls on the firm to provide services during bidding and construction of those projects.
The original contract, for design work up to construction plans, was for about $2.4 million and had already been raised by change orders. The city finance department said that as of Tuesday, Walker Macy has been paid $1,878,957.80.
On amending the contract, council members Dick Olsen and Matilda Novak voted no.
Olsen objects to the CARA urban renewal district spending much of its remaining borrowing authority on the riverfront instead of helping to renovate more downtown buildings. On Wednesday he said had not been able to see detailed plans for the Water Avenue changes, such as what kind of pavement would be used.
Councilman Ray Kopczynski told him the plans had been shown to the council and were available on the city’s website. But the website, on its map of the “final design,” does not show details or actual designs.
Councilwoman Matilda Novak raised other points. I can’t report those because I came in late and didn’t understand what she said after I did. (If you want the whole debate. you’ll have to listen to the recording when it’s posted to the ARA page on the city’s website.)
At one point, though, Councilwoman Marilyn Smith had had enough. She resented, she said, any insinuation that the city staff had not been responsible with public money or that the riverfront planning project had not been completely open. It was not true, she said, that the city had not been operating transparently, and “we are well aware that we are using public money.”
After more than an hour’s back and forth, I didn’t hear anybody say what the next step would be on the riverfront venture. What’s the first project to be put out for bid? When, and what about the two or three after that? (hh)