- The Washington Times - Monday, December 27, 2004

The District’s $18.4 million deal with a New York-based construction firm to renovate RFK Memorial Stadium needs to be amended to ensure more work for local and small contractors, D.C. City Administrator Robert C. Bobb said yesterday.

“I don’t want to see a major contractor doing this work and bringing in workers from other states,” Mr. Bobb said in an interview.

Mr. Bobb’s statement came in response to recent criticism from a local business group upset over the award of a contract to Turner Construction of New York to renovate RFK Stadium in time for the Washington Nationals’ opening day on April 14.

RFK will be the temporary home of the Nationals until 2008, when construction of a 41,000-seat stadium in Southeast along the Anacostia River is expected to be completed. The D.C. Council last week approved building the new stadium in a 7-6 vote.

Robert Green III, president of the Capital Area Minority Contractors and Business Association, said awarding the RFK contract to Turner Construction primarily benefits out-of-town contractors.

Specifically, Mr. Green said the group is concerned that Turner Construction plans to meet a contract requirement mandating that 35 percent of the project be handled by local, small and disadvantaged business enterprises (LSDBEs) by subcontracting much of theRFK renovation to Tompkins Builders.

Tompkins Builders is based in the District, but it is owned by Turner Construction. That arrangement has sparked outrage among local contractors, who fear locally owned and operated contractors won’t get a fair share of the RFK contract, according to Mr. Green. He said Tompkins Builders should not be considered local.

“The local businesses in this city need this work, and they deserve it,” Mr. Green said.

Any perception that local businesses aren’t getting enough stadium work while out-of-town companies reap the benefits could prove embarrassing for Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ administration, after a sharply divided D.C. Council approved stadium financing on Dec. 21.

Mr. Williams lobbied for bringing a major league baseball team to the city as a crucial economic development project, saying it would be a boon for local contractors involved in the RFK renovation and the construction of a new stadium along the Anacostia River.

Mr. Bobb said yesterday he was sensitive to the concerns of local contractors who view the RFK renovation as a sign of things to come.

“It is a definite precursor,” Mr. Bobb said. “If we don’t do a good job of opening up the process with RFK, it places a cloud over us as we are going forward.”

“Local District of Columbia residents must be the first employees in these posts, and I expect that District agencies will be monitoring this very closely,” Mr. Bobb said.

In a Dec. 3 memo, D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission Chairman Mark H. Touhey III told D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp that the Turner contract to renovate RFK includes “significant LSDBE participation, including Devrouax & Purnell, Delon Hampton & Associates, Capital City Associates and Tompkins Builders.”

The memo also states that much of the LSDBE work will be handled by subcontractors engaged through competitive bidding once the design work is completed.

Tompkins Builders has referred questions about its involvement in the RFK contract to Turner Construction, which in turn yesterday referred inquiries to the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission.

Messages left yesterday at the offices of the commission’s chief executive officer, Allen Y. Lew, and Mr. Touhey were not returned.

Mr. Bobb sent a memo Friday asking the sports commission to ensure that Turner Construction meets its 35 percent LSDBE requirement through subcontracts with local businesses other than Tompkins Builders.

“We’re off to a good start, and this can become an unnecessary distraction, which can easily be corrected and we should,” Mr. Bobb wrote in the e-mail, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.

Mr. Bobb said in an interview that he doesn’t think Tompkins Builder should be dropped from the contract.

“I’m not suggesting they be taken off the contract, but I think that the 35 percent needs to be met through contracts with other businesses in the District of Columbia.”

Mr. Green yesterday said he was pleased with Mr. Bobb’s response.

“I think he’s helped us a lot with that letter,” Mr. Green said. “But I’m taking a wait-and-see approach for now.”

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