Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s administration is rebidding a contract to manage public parking downtown, more than 18 months after former Mayor Kip Holden’s administration awarded the contract to an Atlanta-based team, Park Baton Rouge.
Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel says after more than a year of studying the proposed Park Baton Rouge contract—which was never executed—the Broome administration has decided to revise the strategy, which will require drafting new procurement documents and rebidding the contract.
“We are trying to do the best we can to make sure we generate revenue from this,” Gissel says. “It doesn’t make sense to enter into a bad contract.”
Broome’s strategy for improving downtown’s outmoded, inefficient parking system—much like Holden’s—will focus on upgrading the city’s two downtown parking garages with new equipment and better management as well as the installation of a new smart meters system on the streets.
But the plan under Holden called for contracting with a single vendor to manage both the garages and meters. Gissel says it makes more sense to break the contract into two, one for the garages and one for meters.
More importantly, he says the deal Park Baton Rouge proposed for running the garages was not financially beneficial to city the because of the way it was structured, requiring the city to shoulder the entire cost of installing and maintaining new equipment and not generating enough excess revenue to justify it.
The new RFP for management of the garages will have a cost-sharing component that will “require buy-in from the vendor and incentivize them to run more efficiently,” he says.
Gissel says the process has dragged on longer than many had hoped because it took months to get a handle on how much the Park Baton Rouge proposal would actually cost and whether there would be any money in the deal for the city.
The process has been costly, too. In 2016, the city spent $100,000 hiring the late consultant John Fregonese to come up with a plan and help draft a RFP. Earlier this summer, the city spent $17,000 on another consultant, Square Button Consulting, to help it analyze the numbers. The firm, which worked with the City of New Orleans on its parking system, is helping draft the new RFPs as well as bid specifications for the new garage equipment and smart meters.
For Lanier Parking, the lead firm in the Park Baton Rouge team, the series of events has been a frustration and disappointment. Lanier Senior Vice president Steve Resnick says his team reached out multiple times over the past year to meet with the city to try to explain its proposal, which he argues would not have cost the city as much as its own analysis indicated it would. He also says Park Baton Rouge “was willing to make additional concessions and to demonstrate that Park Baton Rouge offered the very best value proposition for the city-parish.”