On Monday evening, we reported on a letter from a senior principal at design firm Hargreaves Associates which suggested that the "fix" was in for the contract for Mayor Karl Dean's proposed riverfront redevelopment.
Gavin McMillan wrote in the letter that the firm was "shocked" to see the contract awarded (to Hawkins Partners Inc., whose Kim Hawkins supported Dean's mayoral campaign) without follow up interviews after the initial scoring process.
Tuesday afternoon, Dean spokeswoman Bonna Johnson responded to the letter in an email, saying the process was "open and fair" and, contrary to McMillan's claim, that it was the "same procedure" used in awarding other contracts.
"The process to select an architect/engineer (A &E) team for final design of redevelopment of the west bank was open and fair, and it was the same procedure that has been followed in awarding other A& E contracts," Johnson said. "We were fortunate to have four highly qualified teams in the running. Hawkins Partners Inc. was selected after receiving the top score for qualifications, and Mayor Dean has full confidence in the recommendations of the Review Board. We look forward to making this new riverfront park available to Nashville residents and visitors as a place for recreation and entertainment."
Follow up questions were referred to Metro's Chief Procurement Officer, Jeff Gossage. We didn't hear back from Gossage Tuesday afternoon, but he tells the Tennessean that there was not "fix."
“I can honestly say there was no fix in,” Gossage tells the daily. “There was an open, competitive process, and three highly qualified companies made offers — actually more than that, but those three were the ones that were passed on to the mayor for selection, which is the practice on (architectural and engineering) selections.”
He also goes on to say that interviews are conducted "when there are questions or concerns about a company" and that "in this case, the proposals, we felt, spoke for themselves."