May 4th, 2010 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall

Downtown Parking Contract Protest Deadline Looms

City Hall protest

Last week the Portland Bureau of Transportation issued some startling news: that it intended to award the contract to manage nearly 4,000 city-owned parking spots in six city-owned garages to a Nashville firm, Central Parking System.

That news came as an unpleasant jolt to the city's dominant parking company, the Goodman family's City Center Parking, which controls a majority of parking garages and lots in Portland. City Center held the city contract from 1985 to 2003. And the Nashville news was as big a blow to City Center's most serious local competitor, the Schlesinger family's Star Park, which along with a consortium of minority chambers of commerce has held the city contract since 2003.

Both local companies have courted the support of city commissioners. City Center boss Greg Goodman is one of the city's most active and visible business leaders. His counterpart at Star Park, Barry Schlesinger, keeps a lower profile. But there is nothing low-profile about Schlesinger's ally, Roy Jay, president of the African American Chamber of Commerce. Jay lobbied hard for Star Park's successful 2003 bid and maintains a regular City Hall presence.

But all three—Goodman, Schlesinger and Jay—could be out in the cold if they don't figure out a "Hail Mary" strategy pretty fast. The scores the city posted on its website show Central Park System far ahead of the two Portland companies in the view of the panel that ranked their bids for the three-year contract, which is scheduled to start this July 1: Central Parking System got 317 points; Ace Parking, 289; City Center, 282; Star Park 254.

To head off the Nashville firm winning the contract, one or more firms must protest the intention to award within seven days of the notice. That means City Center or Star Park or both needs to figure a way back in by close of business tomorrow or see the contract go away.

Barb Gibson, the city procurement officer overseeing the contract, says as of mid-day Tuesday, nobody had lodged a protest. But she says her office has been getting peppered with requests for additional information.
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