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Sarasota Mooring Field: SNAFU By Harmon Heed lthough the contract to construct the mooring field in Sarasota Bay was let over a year ago (April 23, 2009), there is still not one ball to hook onto and no work has been conducted or allowed since October 14 of last year. It took the city six months to determine that the 60-day project could not be completed as contracted and another six months to determine why not. On May 3, Sarasota City Attorney Robert Fournier released his comprehensive and detailed report, and it was made public that evening at a regularly scheduled city commissioner‘s meeting. The report was made through consultation with three outside, independent engineers. It spread the blame all around but primarily on Coastal Engineering Consultants (CEC), the firm the city hired to engineer the project in 2004. CEC’s original contract was for $155,868. After six amendments it ballooned to $323,941. How much did it cost to compile this latest 33-page report? The report concluded that, “CEC did not conduct an adequate investigation of the bay substrate.” Michael Poff, CEC’s VP for Engineering, responded that, “The contract is boiler plate and says bidders must do the substrate investigation.” Mark Kincaid, CEC‘s project engineer, added, “To

do the proper testing would cost much more than the cost of the installation.” The report concluded that, “There is no way to determine what type of anchor will work without first knowing the holding power of the substrate soils. “Yet CEC solely recommended a helical type of anchor, and the city made that a requirement in the contract. When the contractor, Millmac Corp., ran into trouble drilling in the helices, its president Mike Miller, wrote to the city’s project engineer, Rick Winters, “It is not an equipment or process issue. It is a geologic issue. The rock and clay in some locations is impenetrable.” According to Stephen Wilbur, P.E., a structural engineer with Stirling & Wilbur Engineering, “…there is rock under the entire site. The helical is not designed for use in rock.” Gary Schmidt, P.E., a geotechnical engineer with Ardaman & Associates, Inc, agrees, “Rock covers the entire mooring field. You can’t advance helices into rock. The report concluded that CEC vetted the contractor Millmac and recommended it be awarded the contract. In a letter of recommendation signed by Poff on Feb. 24, 2009, the letter stated, “…it is our opinion that their plant and equipment should have sufficient capacity to construct this project.


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