Sand project bidder drops suit against county

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Stormwater and Underground LLC, the construction company rejected by the county in its bid to truck sand onto a 6.6-mile stretch of beach from Treasure Shores Park to John’s Island, has dropped a lawsuit filed against the county for improper procurement practices.

On Sept. 8, the Board of County Commissioners voted to award the project to Fort Pierce-based Ranger Construction, despite Stormwater being the low bidder, to provide the 470,000 cubic yards of sand for the project. Reasons given were the county’s long-standing relationship with Ranger and its ability to complete major construction projects on time and under budget. There was also much consternation about the sand source that Stormwater was proposing to use. The Brian Davis Sand Mine was cited several times for code violations. Ranger had proposed using three different sand mines to ensure the required quality and quanity of sand for the project.

Stormwater had asked the court for a temporary injunction, which was denied by Judge Paul Kanerek due to the fact that appeal procedures with the county had not been exhausted. Commissioners heard Stormwater’s appeal and affirmed its decision to award the $7 million contract to Ranger.

Stormwater had granted County Attorney Will Collins an extension on his 20-day requirement to file a response to the lawsuit while attorney Kurt Thalwitzer reviewed numerous public records regarding the bidding and bid award process. On Oct. 14, Thalwitzer filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal with the circuit court and Collins was notified that the suit had been dropped.

The county must still wait to award the contract to Ranger until the appropriate permits can be secured from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. County staff is in the process of obtaining those permits for a scaled-back project of 347,000 cubic yards of sand to be placed on the beach, due to concerns over sand washing out over a limestone near-shore reef.

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