What was not routine was the duration of the contract—10 months—and an amendment to the contract approved by a 4-3 council vote, a bilateral provision that allows either the city or ARKK Engineers to terminate the contract with 30 days' notice.
From Jan. 6-Nov. 6, ARKK Engineers will continue providing services as it has done in the past. However, during this period, the city of Bellaire will develop a plan to transition some of its engineering services over to city staff.
“With a reduced future Capital Improvement Program (CIP) forecasted for FY22 and beyond, we believe it may be possible to transition some of the duties and responsibilities of the City Engineer to City staff,” Bellaire Public Works Director Michael Leech wrote in the agenda report presented to council Jan. 4.
In the interim, Bellaire staff will present plans for the transition to City Council later in the year and likely through the upcoming budget process, according to the agenda report. Services that could be utilized within the city include representing Bellaire interests with interlocal partners; assisting staff with CIP program development, records management, and permitting of water and wastewater facilities; and reviewing commercial plan reviews the involving installation and rehabilitation of private utilities.
The termination provision in the contract was first proposed by Council Member Nathan Wesely and seconded by Council Member Jim Hotze.
“If you were to ask me maybe a year ago, I would have had a very different opinion, but this past year I don’t think has not been very good for ARKK in a lot of ways,” Wesely said.
In particular, Wesely noted the lingering projects at Maple Street and Bolivar Street as well as Spruce Street and Fifth Street—which began in April 2019—that remain in litigation due to a contract dispute between the city and ARKK Engineers. Wesely also expressed disappointment at the “unrealistic” drainage improvements ARKK Engineers has suggested to the Bellaire Flood Hazard Mitigation Task Force as it works on creating a master drainage concept plan to help reduce flooding potential within Bellaire and surrounding areas.
“That plan is about halfway done,” said James Andrews, ARKK’s engineer on record during the meeting. “There have been some concepts put out there, but there is nothing that has been finalized. We certainly anticipate low hanging fruit to be offered and analyzed fully, so there’s much more to come.”