In a letter to Metro Purchasing and Contract Management, a senior principal at international landscape architecture and planning firm Hargreaves Associates suggests that perhaps "the fix" was in when it comes to the contract for Mayor Karl Dean's plans for a riverfront amphitheater.
Gavin McMillan writes that when the firm was considering making a bid for the project they "were struck by the perception amongst other firms that the 'fix' was in." He suggests the perception was so widespread that only three firms even bid for the project.
When competition amongst bidding firms is close, he explains, there are typically interviews to "ensure fair competition and make the best decision possible." Not so with the riverfront project, he says.
"In hindsight, perhaps the skeptics were right," McMillan adds later on. "We were shocked that the contract is to be awarded without any interviews. This is highly irregular for this type of project and indeed we had competitively interviewed on all other previous contracts in the City."
Dean announced plans in August for development on the west bank of the Cumberland River downtown that would include a flood wall and a new pedestrian promenade, as well as a 12-acre park at the former Thermal Transfer Plant site that would include green space and an amphitheater. At the time, the mayor said final design on the west bank project would begin this fall, while the city put out a request for proposals from firms.
Reached Monday night, Dean spokeswoman Bonna Johnson said she hadn't seen the letter, and noted that the mayor is at an event (a fundraiser for the National Museum of African-American Music, which he is hosting at his Green Hills home). We've shared the full letter with the mayor's office and we'll update here if and when they offer a comment.