The Pine Bluff City Council on Monday will consider waiving competitive bidding and hiring the Reed Architectural Firm for professional services on remodeling the Merrill Community Center.

The proposed ordinance, up for its first reading, said Fred Reed has been involved for several years in discussions about remodeling the center, has inspected the building and done extensive preliminary work, “which would be of great benefit in the goal of an expeditious remodel of the facility.”

It goes on to say that Reed has submitted a proposal to do the work at a reduced cost with a voluntary cap on his fee and reimbursable expenses.

At the request of Go Forward Pine Bluff, Reed submitted a proposal to perform the architectural and engineering work for 8 percent of the construction costs, with a maximum fee of $100,000, which, he said, is less than the state recommended fee for this type of project. He also estimated that the reimbursable fees would be about $7,500.

The proposal was recommended for approval by the three-member Public Works Committee of the City Council Tuesday, made up of aldermen Steven Mays, Win Trafford and Bruce Lockett, with no dissent.

“I say we keep Reed on,” Mays said. “The kids deserve better than what they’ve got now (at the existing center).”

The public/private review committee of Go Forward also signed off on the proposal, noting that the Merrill Center is close to the proposed community garden, and the renovated kitchen can be used to teach cooking classes of vegetables grown in the garden and to support food programs within the center.

The proposal also said that “There has been significant concern for how GFPB would invest in the youth of the City of Pine Bluff. The renovations of this center would serve three purposes. 1— removal of blight. 2 — enhancing the quality of life in an at-risk area. 3 — providing a first-class recreational center for children and citizens of the area.”

“With the blessing of the legal department, let’s keep him (Reed) on board,” Trafford said.

Mayor Shirley Washington, who has made renovations of the Merrill Center a priority, said that the building’s roof will be replaced using proceeds from insurance after the March hail storm, which will reduce the overall costs of the building renovations.

Also on the agenda Monday will be the third and final reading of an ordinance waving competitive bidding and allowing the mayor to sign a contract with the law firms who obtained a judgment against online travel companies to recover unpaid gross receipt taxes.

Two resolutions dealing with the Transit Department will also be considered.

The first of the two authorizes the mayor to sign a contract with Genfare, a division of SPX Corporation for a bus fare collection system with associated products, software and services. The second authorizes the mayor to sign a contract with Routematch Software, Inc., for products, licenses and services for the Transit Department.

The resolutions go on to say that both companies submitted the lowest bids. Grant funds for public transit will be used to pay for the products and services.