Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Company drops protest over Tarpon Springs water plant

TARPON SPRINGS — City officials expect the new water plant project to finally flow smoothly, now liberated from the most recent threat of delay.

Garney Construction, the second-ranked bidder for the contract to build the $35 million project, dropped its protest this week of the city's decision to award the contract to another bidder.

The protest would have been only the most recent holdup in a project that has faced years of delays, including litigation over environmental concerns.

"While our client, the Garney Companies Inc, believes strongly that its protest has merit and that the Garney proposal should have been selected, Garney appreciates the need of Tarpon Springs to move forward with this project without further delay or expense," Garney attorney Edmund T. Baxa Jr. wrote in an email to Tarpon Springs purchasing administrator Jay Jackus.

Garney's change of heart frees the project from several obstacles that probably would have led to delays.

A previously scheduled hearing on the bid protest is now cancelled. If the arbitrator had sided with Garney, the city might have had to throw out all of its bids and start over. That would have postponed the project for several months.

If the bid process took long enough, city officials worried, they would be forced to reapply for the financing needed to launch the plant.

Now the project is slated to begin next month and end in early 2015, pending the City Commission's approval during the Feb. 5 meeting.

Among other complaints, Garney had argued that contract winner Wharton-Smith broke state law by not following bid procedures or including required information. The city hit back with a point-by-point response, arguing that it has the right to choose the company best suited for the project.

Wharton-Smith's proposal will cost taxpayers $1.5 million more than Garney's. But Wharton-Smith earned extra points in the bid process based on its track record, which includes construction of water facilities in Palm Harbor and South Florida, said City Manager Mark LeCouris.

"In my mind, it's not always best to use the lowest bidder," LeCouris added. "Not if you have one business with much more experience."

Delays have plagued the water plant since 2002, when Tarpon Springs hatched the plan to move toward water independence. The project's aim is to allow the city to generate drinking water from pumps and wells, rather than buy it from Pinellas County.

During the filtering process, impurities will be flushed from the groundwater, and the leftover salty brine will be discharged into the Gulf of Mexico.

Among other delays, Tarpon Springs resident Henry Ross sued the city over concerns about how the wastewater would affect manatees and other wildlife.

"I think this (bid protest) was our last hurdle toward getting this thing moving," LeCouris said. "I'm cautiously optimistic."

Contact Brittany Alana Davis at or 727-445-4144. To write a letter to the editor, go to

Company drops protest over Tarpon Springs water plant 01/25/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 7:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa


    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  2. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  4. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  5. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.