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Draft job proposal discussed at recent meeting

By Staff | Jul 29, 2011

Tuesday a subcommittee of the Shepherdstown Planning Commission discussed a request for proposal for a consultant to assist in the annexation of the Rumsey Green complex west of town.

A draft RFP, presented by Commissioner Karene Motivans, was hashed out at the work session, resulting in larger discussions of smart code, the amount paid, the best methods of payment and the possibility of continuing work with the contractor on other projects as they arise.

Resident Neal Martineau, an advocate of smart code since he served on planning commission years ago, said the amount in the draft RFP, $30,000 for the job, may seem like “peanuts” to top-notch professionals. He said, however, that after discussions with Ranson’s consultant, smart code concepts could be employed to the greater Shepherdstown area for just over the amount in the drafted proposal.

Planning Commission Chair Josh Stella said smart code, a template for towns looking for a unified design among developed lands, would be included in the RFP as a methodology the individual could know but told Martineau that Tuesday’s meeting was called to specifically address the contents of the proposal and how the consultant would work with Rumsey Green developers.

Eric Lewis, part of Rumsey Development Group, said in an interview on July 20 that the engineer working on the development would employ tenants of smart growth to the commercial development, which will have a grocery store anchor as well as multi-use buildings. But, he said, the biggest feature of smart growth he sees being utilized on this project would be interconnectivity and walkability to downtown Historic Shepherdstown.

Besides the inclusion of knowing methods including but not limited to smart code in the proposal, the issue of payment also was discussed. In the draft RFP, it was stated the contractor could expect to attend a minimum of four planning commission meetings. Subcommittee members discussed if that should be included in the payment or if a unit price should be awarded per meeting. Concerns were voiced about exceeding the amount set aside to be paid to the consultant over the six-month, give or take, time period drafted in the RFP.

Also regarding payment of the consultant, the RFP draft stated the consultant would be paid for time and material results. Commissioner Theresa Trainor wondered if the better result for payment would be a deliverable, and if putting a fixed payment would be the better route to take.

Mayor Jim Auxer agreed that the fixed price needed to be advertised.

gWhen we interview them, we’ll be interviewing them for a fixed price,” he said.

Stella, however, feared this would result in the town getting less out of the relationship than they bargained for. Motivans agreed she would look into comparables of fixed price versus the burn rate of money if the individual were paid for time and measurable outcomes.

gIf this successful, it will really serve as a precedent for other sites,” Trainor said.

Stella said because the town continues to grow work could continue to arise.

gThis is a project we have now, but you know we are a volunteer government and the town is growing and has a lot of issues,” Stella said, “so this is not necessarily the end of any work we might have for a firm.”

Other items that the subcommittee thought should be included in the RFP and the attached packet of documents are familiarity with West Virginia annexation laws, knowledge of conflicts of interest with the project, requirement of presentation or interview, maps and plans to represent the project’s scope, licenses or certificates required by the town to perform the job, the dates the job is expected to run and the amount paid.

Auxer said he hoped to get the final RFP published as soon as possible.

Lewis said the Rumsey Development Group would “absolutely work” with a consultant hired by the town. He said the town’s planning staff is simply not big enough to handle the entire annexation process.

Lewis said the project’s status is awaiting to perform a traffic study once students return to school. He said the overall “concept plan,” which will show the general layout of the buildings, has been submitted to the town.