Zuni Sign Company owner Ed Bischoff believes that he should have been awarded a contract to create 17 signs for the Evergreen Park and Recreation District.
After reviewing four proposals, EPRD Executive Director Scott Robson and his staff chose the Al Lenzi Group of Lakewood for the project. Lenzi’s bid came in at $64,819, which was close to Bischoff’s bid of $64,993.
“Everybody has said this doesn’t make any sense,” Bischoff said while voicing his objections to the decision at the Sept. 25 meeting of the park district board.
Bischoff said the district should be using local contractors and keeping taxpayer dollars in Evergreen, rather than giving work to companies outside the area.
“The lion’s share does stay in the district,” replied board President Mark Footer. “We prefer to keep it local.”
In the past year, the park district has spent $427,386 in the district, Footer noted.
“We as staff and board take very seriously hiring locally,” added Robson.
The district contributes $3.3 million annually to the local economy, he said. Robson also noted that in the past two years, Zuni has received approximately $17,000 from the district for banners and other work.
Robson explained that it is important to have competitive bids on projects and to select contractors that can produce the best work.
“It’s not a foregone conclusion that we’ll give it to a local business,” Robson said. “We look at the quality of the presentation and how well the contractor can work with staff. … In this particular case, this was the best fit for us.”
Board member Janet Heck-Doyle supported Robson’s decision, along with Footer.
“As a district, we do try to keep as much money local as possible; 76 percent is spent here,” Heck-Doyle said.
However, other Evergreen businesspeople who spoke on the issue said they would like to see local contractors receive work from the park district rather than give projects to outside vendors.
“This district is a special district to benefit this community,” said Kristin Witt. “On this choice: wrong choice.”
Bill Manning, a former Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce president, and incoming chamber president John Ellis both asked the park district board to consider using local businesses as much as possible.
“Maybe we should look at all staying local,” said Manning.
For the bid process that Bischoff is questioning, nine requests for proposals were sent out to companies, Robson said. Four bids came back, including ones from Lenzi and Bischoff. The lowest bid was $62,186 from Artcraft Signs, and the highest was $87,255 from Boyd Design.
“My take is that the award was made because of personal preference, and not necessarily what is best for the community,” Bischoff said. “If you have a company up here that can do the work, you have to find a way to build relationships.”
Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-350-1042.