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City selects landscape supplier to build riverfront marina

Park Board may balk at recommendation
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Posted at 4:14 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 21:01:02-04

CINCINNATI — A landscape materials supplier is the city’s choice to build and operate a public boat dock on the Cincinnati riverfront.

The Cincinnati Park Board is officially undecided.

Park Commissioners on Thursday tabled a selection panel’s recommendation to award a contract for design, construction and management services to H. Hafner & Sons Inc. The Anderson Township company edged out Queen City Riverboats, which the Park Board unanimously endorsed last November as its choice to manage the project.

“While the other respondent also offered good overall proposals, H. Hafner and Sons Inc. can provide the services with equal expertise with a higher financial benefit and meeting the established inclusion goals,” wrote Jenny Mobley, deputy director for the parks department, in a memo to City Manager Paula Boggs Muething. “Based on their proposal and experience, (Hafner’s) offer is the most advantageous in support of the boat dock needs of the city.”

WATCH: Summary of rival bids

Chairman Jim Goetz recommended a delay in Thursday's scheduled vote because he didn't think city officials had provided enough information on which the Park Board could make a decision.

"We made multiple requests of the city that the proposals be presented to us," Goetz said. He wants to work with the "city administration to come to an understanding of what can be done to enable this park board to be able to make the decision."

The city’s selection memo said a 100-point scoring system was used to determine the winning bidder. Queen City Riverboats outscored Hafner and Sons on “prior experience and time in field for each project component” and “proposal quality and responsiveness.” Hafner outscored Queen City Riverboats on pricing and economic inclusion.

In advance of the meeting, former Park Board member Kevin Flynn criticized the city's handling of the selection process.

“Whoever is deciding the relative value of the scoring system seems to be really controlling the project, which to me flies in the face of the charter,” Flynn said. “The charter says that the Board of Park Commissioners will be responsible for park projects and park property and yet the Board of Park Commissioners has been completely left out of this project.”

The bidding process began in May after critics complained that a proposal from Queen City Riverboats would block access to Cincinnati’s Public Landing and make it more difficult for overnight cruise boats like the Delta Queen to stop in Cincinnati. After the Park Board endorsed a no bid contract with the Dayton, Ky.-based company, Parks Director Kara Kish asked city officials to invite public bids.

WATCH: Park Board marina plan hits rough water

The city’s request for proposals drew initial interest from eight potential bidders, but only two of them submitted proposals.

As the I-Team has previously reported, Queen City Riverboats altered its proposal to include a boat dock location near the Roebling Suspension Bridge. Hafner and Sons proposed a location that starts on the western edge of the Public Landing.