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Author Topic: LT - Stantec Choice Questioned, Arnett Top Pick for Economic Development  (Read 1396 times)
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« on: April 18, 2013, 06:38:52 PM »

From the Londonderry Times

Stantec Choice Questioned, Arnett Top Pick for Economic Development
Jay Hobson, Londonderry Times
While the Planning Board recommended Stantec to be chosen by the Town Council as the town’s third party reviewer, that recommendation has now come under scrutiny. Acting Town Manager William Hart told the council Monday night that a Request for Proposal (RFP) resulted in three responses, with one withdrawing from consideration. “The planning board voted to accept the Stantec RFP,” Hart said.
Councilor Tom Dolan said the original review was done without cost being a factor.
 “This sort of laid in the pile for the planning board to review, which was the first RFP and didn’t include cost, but was for the professional services side of the equation only. It was the first RFP,” Hart said. “So we’re still at that point of non-cost response,” Dolan said.
 “That’s correct,” Hart said.

Dolan said he was uncomfortable with issuing a contract that didn’t include cost. “If that means we have to go out to re-bid, so be it,” he said. Dolan said that he didn’t think the council was serving its constituents well if the costs were not considered. Councilor Jim Butler said he agreed and what was proposed in effect gives Stantec an open checkbook. “We need to see costs,” Butler said.
Council Chairman John Farrell noted Councilor Tom Freda wasn’t in attendance at the Monday night meeting and while he didn’t want to speak for Freda, he had received “feedback” from him that indicated Freda was opposed to the choice and voted that way at the Planning Board meeting. “With regards to Stantec, having served on the Planning Board for a very long time, the intent of the RFP was to find more than one vendor so we wouldn’t sole source, and to create a competitive environment for the developers,” Farrell said.
He also said that at one point, Stantec billed the town “$950,000-ish. I know that some of those costs were passed along. I think there’s more room for more competitive nature and for more than one vendor.”
 And he would like to explore that path. Hart said several possibilities were available. “One is not accepting the recommendation of the planning board, which is within the purview of the council,” he said. “The next step from there would be a reformed RFP, considering the new conditions the council has addressed, cost among other things. A second way might be, alternatively, within the context of the existing RFP, to see if there are more than one acceptable purveyors.”
Hart said he would report back to the council on May 6 so that the council could make a decision.
 Dolan said they shouldn’t discount the possibility of “in-sourcing” the services. “I’d like to see staff’s opinion on in-sourcing as an option,” he said. “My thought is that we would be able to control both the scheduling and the costs more if it was in-sourced.”
Hart said it had been discussed about considering what the Planning Department was doing with hiring a consultant on a project-by-project basis, and noted that part of his report would be the possibility of that option. He noted that for many years, the town had a Director of Planning and Economic Development, more recently called the Community Development Director “When Mr. (Andre) Garron, who served the community well, left recently, with the direction of the council we took a look at some other possibilities and actually crafted an RFP, the idea being that perhaps we could use this as a professional service rather than an in-house employee,” Hart noted. “We had two applicants file a prospectus to us and selected one, the Arnett Development Group.
We are prepared to engage in contract negotiations and have started that, and I am looking for the approval of the council to go forward in negotiations with them.” Hart said he expected the cost to be lower than the cost of a full-time employee. “Indeed it might be significantly lower, which would be dependent on the projects that we have going on in the community,” Hart said. Hart said there are a couple of projects that he thinks would be important to the town.
“So, two things – one is I think we should look at referencing engineering services and staff and looking at what our options might be for that, and secondly, get the approval of the Council to move forward with Arnett Development Group and engage in a contract with them to provide these services to the community,” Hart said. Dolan said marketing the community and community development skills are more highly developed in the private sector and that’s what the council is moving forward with, while engineering analysis is not necessarily a highly skilled capability in the private sector.
“I think people who work at a place like Stantec are also very similar to the people who work in municipal government. I think they probably trade employees from time to time. There’s more of a parity in terms of skill set. In terms of community development, I don’t think it’s quite like that,” Dolan said. Dolan said that was a long way of saying that he endorsed the idea of moving forward with a private contractor.
Butler said companies like Stantec have levels of specialization and he thought it might be difficult to find someone with all the specializations under one hat. Farrell asked if the council wanted to meet with Arnett Development Group before negotiations, and Hart said he suggested that before the contract was signed, Arnett should come in and have a little “get to know you session.” “How about a good, old fashioned dog and pony show,” Dolan asked.
Councilor Joe Green asked what the selection process was like. “We did an RFP and got two responders, we reviewed the proposals that each made, then interviewed each applicant at some length and made a decision. The people on the group were myself, Cynthia May, John Vogl, and Jaye Trottier, all of whom are in the planning department,” Hart said. The second respondent to the RFP was Kathy Wagner’s Imageability of Londonderry.

End of Londonderry Times article -

Arnett Development Group
« Last Edit: April 18, 2013, 06:47:22 PM by GDouglas » Logged

Glenn Douglas
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« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2013, 06:56:03 PM »

Given the two choices for the Economic Developement Contract what qualifications did Imagebility bring to the table?

Arnett Development Group

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Glenn Douglas
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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2013, 09:12:33 AM »

"Butler said companies like Stantec have levels of specialization and he thought it might be difficult to find someone with all the specializations under one hat."

Apparently one of the "specializations" is NOT recognizing problems with impact fees.
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