On Wednesday, March 23, 2016, the first of what will likely be a series of articles appeared on the pages of the Cincinnati Enquirer regarding the operational processes and practices of the Cincinnati Park Board; specifically as they pertain to the construction of Smale Riverfront Park (SRP).
Some of the stories will cite instances that purportedly demonstrate how the Park Board’s processes of awarding and bidding construction contracts for the park were not managed according to City regulations. But in fact, the Park Board followed City purchasing regulations by using existing competitively bid Master Agreements previously awarded by the City. Recently, the City Manager has been reviewing purchasing regulations and making significant changes to those, many of which will impact how the Park Board and all City departments carry out procurement in the future.
The Park Board’s policy has always been to comply with City regulations. The Board did extensively use city “Master Agreements” which are periodically awarded by the City for a range of construction, repair and maintenance services, to build parts of SRP. Each and every construction project and park feature constructed under these contracts was based on a cost proposal reviewed by the Park Board and submitted to the City Purchasing Department for approval. All these proposals used to build SRP were approved by the City. Other aspects of SRP were carried out as specific bid projects while parts of the park were built by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Additionally, the Park Board, as is the case with other City departments, routinely used these master agreements for many projects since these contractors had previously been vetted and approved by the City as being most advantageous and the best price for their services.
It is important to understand the role and the time period applicable to bonding in construction projects. Typically, bonding expires one year after the project is complete and all sub-contractors and contractors have been paid. Since SRP was constructed in a sequence of contracts, the amount of bonding from projects from 2012-2015 is now moot. With the exception of the four remaining contracts, which are expiring shortly and being evaluated at this time by the City, all of the other previous bonds have since expired.
We will provide updates to you at regular intervals as the Enquirer stories are published, hoping to provide perspective and balance to what is being reported. In the end, we know our parks are rated among the nation’s top parks system because we execute our mission to make it so with passion and pride. And we do this to make Cincinnati an even greater, greener community every day.