September 3, 2016 Dena Jensen
Subject: Request that the Project Update on the county’s GPT webpage be updated with more details
Dear Whatcom County Council and Deputy Whatcom County Executive Schroeder:
In my September 1, 2016 email to the Whatcom County Council, copied to Deputy County Executive Schroeder and County Executive Louws, regarding denying the contract extension for the preparation of the EIS for the GPT project the first two paragraphs read as follows:
“It is my understanding from an email sent by Deputy Whatcom County Executive Tyler Schroeder to a friend of mine, that the parties of the contract, which I assume is for the preparation of the EIS for the GPT project of which the parties include CH2M HILL and Whatcom County, have agreed between each other for the contract to be extended 180 days from the date of contract signature, or March 13, 2016 [sic – I listed the wrong year, it should have read March 13, 2017], whichever occurs first, “to accomplish ramp-down contract activities to ensure that the work and the contract are closed out in an orderly fashion.” While Mr. Schroeder did not precisely indicate it in this same email, I assume that the contract for reimbursement of costs and fees associated with the EIS between PIT/PIH, BNSF, and Whatcom County would also be extended. Deputy Executive Schroeder explained that the contract would be presented to you council members for approval at your September 13, 2016 meeting.
“First, I would like to register my alarm that Deputy Executive Schroeder seems to be purporting that this extension will provide that the contract would be closed out. From my understanding, this extension leaves the contract in tact for 180 days and offers the ability for the project proponents to continue with the EIS at some point, should they choose to do so.”
In looking over information on Whatcom County Planning and Development’s Gateway Pacific Terminal Proposed Project webpage (which I will hereafter refer to as the GPT webpage) at http://wa-whatcomcounty.civicplus.com/993/Gateway-Pacific-Terminal-Proposed-Projec , I noticed in the Project Update, Updated 9/2/2016, there is similarly misleading language used to describe the “ramp-down contract activities.” Here is how that language reads: “Thereafter, as outlined in contract #201205028, all parties mutually agreed to extend the contract 180 days, or to March 13, 2017, whichever occurs first, to accomplish ramp-down contract activities to ensure that the work and contracts are closed out in an orderly fashion.”
Since I stated in my letter to you that I was alarmed that Deputy Executive Schroeder seemed to imply with this language that the contract would be closed out because I had a different understanding, I wanted to provide you with some written confirmation of the understanding that I explained.
Because the GPT webpage now includes copies of the contracts, I was able to view “Attachment A: Scope of Work – Ramp Down Plan” on page 14 of Contract #201205028 . This is the language used to describe the “ramp-down” in the Introduction section of that attachment: “At the April 5th meeting, PIT and Whatcom County agreed that CH2M would prepare an estimate of ‘ramp-down’ costs to close all work tasks. The Scope of Work outlined below identifies the consultant team’s assumptions related to project suspension and the ramp-down activities recommended to ensure that work is closed out in an orderly fashion and can be efficiently resumed at a future date.”
I am very disturbed that, not only was my friend potentially misled by the language in the email they received, but 1. this language in Attachment A to Contract #201205028 only refers to the work – not the “work and contracts” – being closed out and 2. indicates that this is being done to ensure that the work can be “efficiently resumed at a future date,” while 3. the public on the GPT webpage is being led to believe that the ramp-down contract activities are to ensure that the work and contracts are closed out in an orderly fashion, with no indication that they can be resumed at a future date.
In the August 31, 2016 memorandum sent to the Whatcom County Council by Deputy County Executive Tyler Schroeder, “Subject: Amendment to Contract #201205028 between Whatcom County and CH2M HILL Engineers to accomplish the ramp down work plan for contract suspension…” that is posted on the county’s GPT webpage, the language “contract suspension,” “contracts…closed out,” and “contract completion” are all used. Since suspension does not necessarily mean a contract is terminated, this assortment of descriptions seems to leave the nature of the status of the contract after the “work” is completed, as inadequately defined.
I request that the Project Update on the county’s GPT webpage be updated with more details to help the public to understand that this not-to-exceed 180-day contract extension does not mean that the EIS will be closed out, i.e. terminated. If, there is some contract that will, in fact, be closed out, i.e. terminated, after the “work” is closed out according to the Ramp Down Plan, the public should be informed of exactly what contract that is, as well as whether and under what conditions the EIS could still be resumed at a future date, as it seems to appear it can be.
Please feel free to use this email in whole or in part to send your own email to the Whatcom County Council before their next meeting on September 13, 2016.
Here are the email addresses for the Whatcom County Council. Sending to all these addresses is most effective: