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Designers selected for Booth Park improvements

By Grace Lovins


Improvements to a proposed plaza and trail for Booth Park are closer to reality after the Birmingham City Commission approved the selection of a firm for design services during the Monday, March 18, regular meeting.

Three bidders responded to the request for proposals (RFP) that was sent out by the city towards the beginning of this year. Scott Zielinski, director of public services, said that the scoring of the written proposals submitted and reviewed by internal staff were very close. The city’s parks and recreation board also reviewed and discussed the three proposals before they were brought to the commission.

The goal of the project is improvement of the city's trail system with an entry plaza at Booth Park. The base bid included preparing architectural and engineering plans, construction specifications for an accessible seating and entry plaza designed for intensive use at the corner of Harmon and Old Woodward; restroom facilities; trail entry identifier and columns, and improvements to the existing trail; new landscaping, including a rain garden or pollinator garden; seating and gathering spaces; and lighting.

During the meeting, the three candidate firms – MKSK, PEA Group and Grissim, Metz, Andriese Associates – each gave a presentation on their proposals. MKSK is a national planning, urban design and landscape architecture firm, with experience working on park projects such as Centennial Commons in Royal Oak. PEA Group describes themselves as a team of civil engineers, landscape architects and consultants, per their website, licensed in over 20 states. Their experience included several projects along the Rouge River in Detroit. Grissim, Metz, Andriese Associates is a firm based in Plymouth with experience in landscape design, sustainable design and environmental graphics among other things, per the firm’s website. During their presentation, Susan Grissim, principal architect, explained that the firm has worked with municipalities such as Northville to enhance existing spaces.

Grissim stated that they would be working with HRC, an engineering and architectural firm with experience working in Birmingham, and Peterhans, Rea and Roman, LLC, architectural designers.

Commissioner Clinton Baller started off the discussion by stating the presentation by MKSK was an “utter failure,” and he believed Grissom, Metz and Andriese Associates was the best choice of the three candidates. “[MKSK] didn’t tell me one word about where you’re going to go with [the concept plan],” Baller said.

The commission collectively agreed that Grissim, Metz and Andriese gave the best presentation of the three, hitting the points that they were looking for. Some noted that, while PEA Group gave some good ideas, their presentation seemed to be beyond the scope of what the intention was with the project.

Some commissioners also took the opportunity after the presentations to address issues with the city’s process for public improvements. “You didn’t interview them,” said Baller to city manager Jana Ecker. Commissioner Andrew Haig supported Baller’s points, saying that the RFPs need to clearly outline the budget for the project.

The commission voted 6-0 to select Grissom, Metz, and Andriese Associates as the consultant for the Booth Park Plaza and trail improvements design services. Commissioner Anthony Long was absent from the meeting.


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