Decision Delayed on Clam Bayou

Gulfport City Council voted unanimously, at Ward 1 Councilman Dan Liedtke’s suggestion, to delay any decisions about Clam Bayou, including whether or not to pay a consultant just over $72,000 to perform a study of Clam Bayou, including a title search and historic narrative of the tidal mud flat. This assessment would be the first step in creating a management plan for the bayou.

City staff created a request for qualifications, or RFQ, that invited companies to bid on the first step of creating such a plan. Only one company responded to the RFQ, which some council members criticized as too restrictive.

“A member of council at the time we discussed this thought it would be best to use a firm that had no involvement with the city of Gulfport or other parties associated with Gulfport,” Mayor Sam Henderson said.

This request, made by former Ward 3 Councilwoman Jennifer Salmon, meant that any company that worked with any agency that worked with Gulfport could not bid on the project. Such agencies include the state, the state water management districts, and Gulfport businesses, Tampa Bay Estuary Program, Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, Gulfport residents and city staff.

“I am a little concerned that we did only get one bid back,” Ward 1 Councilman Dan Liedtke said. Ward 3 Councilman Yolanda Roman agreed.

“It’s just not a smart idea not to have comparables,” she said.

Ward 4 Councilman Michael Fridovich said he would like to put the job out to bid again and Vice Mayor Christine Brown said she would like to extend the bidding “in a less restrictive way.”

Brown encouraged council to still perform a title search, which would establish legal ownership of the land under the water in Clam Bayou. Any land belonging to private property owners would not legally be eligible for work paid for with government funds, according to City Attorney Andy Salzman.

While council tabled the decision –meaning they took no action at Tuesday night’s council meeting –they did discuss how to proceed in a way that would not cost taxpayers $72,000 for preliminary steps.

The mayor suggested that the city budget money for baseline sampling for the water and the sediment and monitoring after the city completes the separate 49th Street stormwater retrofit.

“If we’re going to spend $72,000, I’d rather spend it getting a baseline sampling plan before the 49th Street project is complete and then do a round of sampling after the completion to measure our progress,” he said.

Council will resume the discussion at the June 17 workshop. Check the Gabber for notice of the meeting time.

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