BROOKSVILLE — Even as the Hernando County Commission was meeting Thursday with representatives of firms seeking to manage the troubled Hernando Beach Channel dredge, commissioners learned that the contractor for the project missed this week's deadline for submitting a key report to the state.
And after the contractor did submit the report, it showed there have been some problems with properly filtering the dredge spoils.
Contractor BCPeabody missed a Wednesday deadline to submit its first turbidity report to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The report details whether the spoils from the dredge, where work resumed recently, are filtered sufficiently to return clean water to a nearby canal.
BCPeabody officials were reminded of the deadline on Tuesday and early Wednesday, but they still didn't make the deadline.
In a letter to BCPeabody president Andrew Goetz, county transportation services director Susan Goebel wrote Wednesday: "This performance is unacceptable and you are to be more communicative with the county in the future.''
Goetz had contacted DEP to seek an extension, but Goebel noted that not keeping the county in the loop was problematic.
"At no time during the day did you update the county of the reporting status or the decision to contact FDEP. The county has worked very hard to establish a good rapport with FDEP to allow dredging activities to resume,'' Goebel wrote. "Your approach undermines the county and sets a negative tone for your performance.''
BCPeabody submitted the required report Thursday, but it turned up another question about how the dredge is proceeding.
In 16 samplings of water, there were two cases in which it contained too much sediment, violating the standard set by the DEP. The dredge subcontractor immediately made adjustments to bring the results into compliance, according to the report.
Sediment-laden water was the same problem that stopped the dredge a year and half ago. BCPeabody, which began dredging work late last week, is supposed to check water clarity every two hours, Goebel told commissioners.
While the commissioners have not yet committed to hire a firm to manage the dredge project, they did agree Thursday to begin negotiating with A Civil Design Group.
At several points Thursday, commissioners asked the prospective managers how they would deal with any problems, such as turbidity, that might crop up in the future. All were told that the commission had decided the job would cost no more than $75,000.
In a close vote, the commission ranked Richard Matassa's A Civil Design Group, a local company, as its first choice. Matassa, a Hernando Beach resident, was unable to make the meeting, but his staff spoke on his behalf.
Lee Huston explained that Matassa was anxious to see the project succeed; Huston said staff member David Goree has extensive experience with dredge projects and that additional staffers will also be available as needed.
Commissioner Jeff Stabins said he believed that all of the commissioners knew the firm well from its projects in the county and that Matassa has "a long history with the county staff, and it's not positive.''
He asked Huston whether Matassa, with his prickly personality, was going to be able to get along with the county staff in the role of construction manager. Huston responded that Matassa "has grown quite a bit through the years'' and would do what is necessary to get the job done.
Stabins then asked if Matassa could get along with BCPeabody CEO Robert Carpenter. Huston said Matassa wanted the dredge to succeed because "this is personal to him.''
Commissioner Dave Russell asked Goree what he would do if the contractor failed to meet a key deadline.
Goree said that there has to be a good relationship between the contractor and the construction manager. "We have to work with the contractor and not against him,'' he said.
The commission may consider formal approval of a contract with A Civil Design Group at its June 14 meeting.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1434.