New engineer at WM Airport
Commission replaces ETI with Garver in three- year deal to oversee planning, improvements
The West Memphis Airport Commission retained a new consulting engineering firm during its April meeting. Commissioners scrutinized proposals from six firms and set the top to three for interviews. Ultimately Garver edged out the airports current firm, ETI, for the engineering services contract at the airport spanning the next three years.
The commission sought proposals as part of the routine procedure as the agreement with ETI expired.
Garver also enjoyed a history of serving at the airport. Commission Chairman David Pike said the selection sub-committee was most impressed with the Garver presentation about required improvement projects.
The proposals they did and the recommendations for moving forward they did were outstanding,” said Pike. “They had great ideas about upcoming projects on the airfield based on things they’ve done at other airports.”
Commissioners Melvin Bearden and Marvin Steele shared the positive impressions which served to sway the board to change engineers.
“They were the only ones focused mainly on the future of the airport and what needed done,” said Steele.
Bearden indicated Garver enjoyed pervious experience with the West Memphis Airport. “They already have a knowledge of our facility and most all the expansion,” said Bearden. “They are very up on our airport’s past and the projections for our future. I think they were well on op of it.”
Commissioners used an evaluation process to rank each proposal for the professional services.
“We rated the top six in a decision matrix,” said Pike. “We ranked key attributes of each firm after the interviews.”
Connections to lobbyists and ability to help the airport contend for increasingly more scarce state and federal airport improvement funds created a basis in the decision. Bearden pointed out three key components in the evaluation.
“The main ranking points were, could they be at our meetings, be accessible to us any time, and do they have good representation at Little Rock,” said Bearden.
“We came up with the final three firms and rated them as most reputable and influential in representing other airports that they do work for.”
The group also desired en- gineers with a good track record in east Arkansas.
It was a tough decision.
Bearden said the experience with ETI had benefited the airport but felt most confident in the ability of Graver to attract future funding for airport maintenance and improvements.
“We’ve been well pleased with ETI over the years,” said Bearden. “It’s not felt we couldn’t do well with them moving forward. It’s just felt that funds are sparse and it comes down to how well we can lobby at Little Rocks and the Southwest region (of the FAA). We’ll have to work harder for the dollars from this point forward.”
Price wasn’t the highest consideration. Garver came at the heftiest proposed price tag of the three finalists. Engineering services run nearly $70,000 for the airport.
By John Rech