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Back to Drawing Board for 311 W. Main Consultant

A steering committee of the task force rejected two proposals following presentations and interview process

It’s back to the drawing board in finding a consultant to aid the 311 W. Main Task Force in revitalizing the former arts center in .

rejected the presentations and proposals of two consultants this month.

The search will now be expanded nationwide to find a group or individual to guide the task force toward its goal of refurbishing and reopening 311 W. Main St.

Task force member and borough parks and recreation director Carl Saldutti told the audience at the Dec. 13 meeting that there would be no recommendation for a consultant.

“The entire package, what we felt we needed to guide the group through this process, to get us from Point A to Point B with a successful conclusion, we felt it wasn’t presented to us during their presentations and during the question-and-answer phase of the interview,” Saldutti said. “The decision was to go back to the drawing board and widen the search this time. We will probably put it out on a national level.”

Prior to the task force creation, a Request for Proposal was sent out, seeking a consultant.

The borough received five proposals. Of those five, two were non-responsive, which, according to Saldutti, meant it was merely a cover letter and resume.

Two were responsive and were circulated to each member of the steering committee appointed to research the consultant, Saldutti said.

Each member of the steering committee ranked the three respondents, based on a set of criteria.

A meeting was then held to collect the rankings, and that information was aggregated in order to come up with the top two consultants.

The top two consultants were brought in for interviews. Prior to the interview process, borough manager Timi Kirchner forwarded an outline of questions each one would be asked to address in the interview process.

Each consultant was given an hour to make a presentation to the steering committee. Saldutti said there were some give and take and questions and answers during the presentations.

A dialogue amongst the committee members followed each separate interview.

“We felt that each consultant we interviewed that evening had a lot of pluses,” said Saldutti.

Yet, the decision was made to start over and expand the search.

“The thinking by the group was to take a step backward now, rethink the process, and go through the exercise to get someone we feel we are comfortable with, and that brings together the entire package that we’re looking for,” Saldutti said. “It’s better to do that now, then to engage someone and find out mid-stream that perhaps we are moving down the wrong path.”

Saldutti said the search will be expedited and there will be “minor tweaking” to the Request for Proposal.

The steering committee will use national links and resources, and promote the RFP on the borough website.

“We have a rather aggressive timeline again,” Saldutti said, “but we want to make sure we have efficient time to have people respond adequately and thoroughly. We want to give the subcommittee enough time to review, digest and rank, and go through the interview process again.”

Saldutti said the subcommittee did “due diligence” and made the right decision.

Kirchner asked for anyone to provide the task force with any trade magazine information so that they can get the word out better.

She said RFPs will be due mid-January, and a recommendation will be made in February 2012.

Meetings in January and February will be “information gathering” meetings, she said.

Kirchner reminded the task force and the public that Spiezle Architects remains on board and will be working side by side with the consultant “so that each of us has our thoughts and ideas as to what we think we’d like to have in that building.”

“The architect is here to help us follow our dreams or give us a reality check as we move through the process,” she said.

Task force chairman Mike Sobel backed the decision by the subcommittee.

“We want to do this right once, and that’s it, and do it the first time,” Sobel said. “It did not feel like the right fit for us now. We did not want to go back and realize six months from now this is not the right person. We want to try and find the best fit for what we need here, and we will.”

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