2016-07-14 / Letters

Bridge planning not transparent

To the editor:

Preserving the historical Stackpole Bridge was a project approved at referendum in November 2014 in the amount of $990,000. The lowest bidder was Chesterfield Associates ($839,500) and the next lowest was CPM ($1,192,756). The city council awarded the contract to the latter, the preferred contractor of the Stackpole Bridge group.

Central to this project was a restoration to the historical significance of the bridge. Subsequent to the award and several design modifications, it was determined and approved at the Dec. 21, 2015 council meeting, an additional allocation of $300,000 to $400,000 would be necessary to implement the historical objective.

Since last fall, further changes have been made to the design. Progress reports were not evident until a Saco resident, also a member of Saco Citizens for Sensible Government, publicly requested a status report in May. Again in June, the request for information was pursued. The mayor acknowledged the city had received a letter from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission (state agency). The bridge would not be recognized for its historical significance. The process of leading up to this disclosure has not been transparent by the city of Saco. Despite various design changes, not to mention the costs associated, the selected contractor cannot deliver on a principal objective to reconstruct the historic structure.

Where is the oversight? Was the historic goal realistic in light of the dollars approved at referendum? Should the low bidder have been passed over or given opportunity to submit alternatives with the additional funds afforded the current bidder? Was allocating additional sums in keeping with the referendum intent? Has the city been placed in a position of losing state funding? Who authorized the various project changes? What role has the Stackpole Bridge group played in the process? What legal advice has been sought or given? Where is the Saco City Council leadership? Again, where is the oversight?

As concerned residents, our local government needs to be more transparent and attentive to the management of the public coffers.

John Harkins, chairman Saco Citizens for Sensible Government

Return to top