Challenge to beach sand bid decision will cost money, staff time

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — No matter what the outcome of the pending appeal of the County Commission’s choice of Ranger Construction to replenish 6.5 miles of beach from Treasure Shores Park to John’s Island, the county will need to expend staff time and resources to defend itself.

County Attorney Will Collins said that, since legal staff is being used to litigate the case, there is no provision for the county to recoup any legal expenses associated with either Monday’s emergency hearing of the motion for injunction filed by Stormwater and Underground, or any further expenses related to a full hearing of the merits of the rejected bidder’s case.

“That’s what we’re here to do when these things come up,” Collins said. Even if the county is shown to have acted in compliance with all applicable laws and with its own procurement procedures, the taxpayers have no way to be compensated for all the staff time that could have been used on other matters of county business.

In addition, commissioners will consider a work order on Tuesday to contract with Coastal Tech engineering consultants to expand the scope of permitting modifications on the beach project to include scientific data on sand from the Brian Davis Sand Mine, just in case, so that if Stormwater’s litigation succeeds, the county will not be behind the eight ball in the permitting process.

The additional engineering work, according to County Coastal Engineer Jonathan Gorham, would cost about $21,000, and that’s if no requests for additional information are required by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Modifications to the permits are expected to take another couple of weeks. Then FDEP will have 30 days to review the permits and the county will need to advertise the impending permit and accept any public comment for 14 days prior to issuing a notice to proceed on the project. Gorham estimates that, if all goes well, work can start sometime between Jan. 15 and April 22, 2010.

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