Barge process spiked, ordered to restart

CaptionCloseThe city installed more than 50 plaques "in recognition of Hugman's vision for the River Walk," which now serve as a tour complete with history and photos of the area. The tour is available as a self tour (cell phone exclusive), an audio tour...

Barge process spiked, ordered to restart

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The city installed more than 50 plaques "in recognition of Hugman's vision for the River Walk," which now serve as a tour complete with history and photos of the area. The tour is available as a self tour (cell phone exclusive), an audio tour and a walking tour. 

The city installed more than 50 plaques "in recognition of Hugman's vision for the River Walk," which now serve as a tour complete with history and photos of the area. The tour is

Mayor Ivy Taylor and the City Council decided in a closed-door meeting Thursday to restart the process of selecting an operator for San Antonio’s new fleet of River Walk barges.

City staff had been poised to recommend that the contract go to San Antonio River Cruises, which is owned by Chicago’s Entertainment Cruises — and is represented locally by attorney and former Mayor Phil Hardberger.

But Taylor received several complaints that Hardberger had overstepped bounds by participating in his team’s presentation to a selection committee composed of city officials and community leaders. In emails to City Manager Sheryl Sculley, Taylor described the process as being tainted “beyond redemption” and lacking “consistency, transparency and accountability.”

The council met Thursday in executive session about how to move forward. Sources with knowledge of the matter said the council agreed that all four original firms, including the Chicago team and the current operator, who reportedly placed second, should be invited to resubmit their proposals, and that the process should take no more than 30 days.

Taylor had originally suggested a few paths forward, including one that would have disqualified the Chicago team altogether. The new process will also include some sort of oversight mechanism, though exactly what that is has yet to be determined.

There’s an emphasis to reach a contract soon because officials want the operator to be up and running with the new battery-powered barges when the city’s tricentennial celebrations commence next year.

jbaugh@express-news.net

jbaugh@express-news.net

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