Clear Lake council approves using alternate selection process to choose contractor for Surf District Music Enrichment & Interpretive Center

CLEAR LAKE — The Clear Lake City Council last night approved using the “construction manager at-risk” selection process for the Surf District Music Enrichment & Interpretive Center that’s part of the city’s Destination Iowa project. The Iowa Legislature passed a law in 2022 to allow the additional “CMaR” option for public entities in the state alongside the traditional design-bid-build project procurement.

City Administrator Scott Flory says this option creates a two-phase selection process where finalists are chosen based on qualifications determined by the city, with the city then selecting the “CMaR” that offers the best value for the project.  “It’s a process that basically…the bid is the bid. There aren’t any change orders with that, that’s the number and you’re locked into that, in absence some really extraordinary circumstances like a ‘black swan event’ like the pandemic, that’s the number that the contractor has to live with.”

Flory says the process also allows the city to choose who they feel is the best contractor for the project, not just rely on who ends up being the lowest bidder. “For so long we’ve always had to live under the low bid method, and as you know from past experience, not always necessarily is the low bid the best bid. This is an alternative delivery model. It allows us to use criteria that we would formalize in this proposal to ensure that we are getting the best bid, even though the state language doesn’t necessarily define precisely what is is the best bid, we have a lot of latitude in that.”

Flory says the city wants to make sure that such an important project for the community, and funded by federal and state funds, is completed in the best way possible.   “What we are talking about here is tailor-made for this kind of delivery method, where not necessarily the low bidder is the one you want to select on a project that involves a lot of skill, ability to perform, deliver on time and on budget, on pride, all those kind of things. There’s a number of things that I would describe as intangible that we would want to put some strict evaluation to that under the traditional bidding we’re not allowed to do. It’s just pretty much the low bid who receives the project.”

The anticipated schedule calls for advertising for bids in February and conducting the bid opening later that month. Construction would commence next April and be completed by June of 2025.