Coryell County Tire Investigation: When are they getting cleaned up?

Channel 6 news reporter Andrew Moore investigates.

For more than 13 years, a massive pile of tires in Coryell County has threatened the safety of nearby homeowners and served as a breeding ground for mosquitos. The Coryell County Office of Emergency Management said if a fire were to start on the property, the county my not be able to put it out. 

Yet, for years, nothing was done to clean the tires up. Then, Channel 6 News got involved in late 2016. 

The land in question belongs to the Texas Veterans Land Board. The board told Channel 6 News it repossessed the land after the previous owners defaulted.

Texas General Land Office Spokeswoman Brittany Eck said the board put out a RFP in 2015. They had received bids ranging from $1.3 million to $6 million.

After the lowest bidder dropped out, however, the board did not select another. Instead, the Texas Veterans Land Board tried to sell the property and have the buyer clean it, according to state regulations.

No one came forward to clean it up.

But, after Channel 6 News ran several stories on the issue, the Texas Veterans Land Board put out an RFP in 2017 and selected Derrick Construction for approval. The Land Board was set to approve a contract with the company at their quarterly meeting on July 27. 

At the meeting, the board decided not to award the contract. 

"We believe the bid is feasible given our estimate, but there are questions surrounding whether our estimate is accurate," Texas Veteran Land Board Attorney Anthony Vargas said. 

The Texas Veterans Land Board later admitted to Channel 6 News that despite putting out multiple RFPs to get the land cleaned up, they had never actually counted the tires on the property and did not know the true scope of the job.  

"For years now we've had rumors that there were 600,000 to 900,000 tires on the land," VLB Senior Deputy Director Matt Elledge said. "I wouldn't say it was an actual estimate. It was based off of the history of things that had occurred before Commissioner Bush was here."

The board did, however, decide to solve that issue at the July meeting by hiring another contractor to get an accurate estimate.

In October, the board paid contractor Cobb-Fendley and Associates to do a survey of the land by digging at sample sites and taking aerial photos.

The contractor's report revealed there were only around 250,000 tires on the land at most. 

Unfortunately, because the amount was so much lower than the amount described in the last RFP, the VLB decided to not to approve the contract with Derrick Construction at their meeting on October 26.  

"The bid we had for clean up was 900,000 tires," Vargas said at the meeting. "Given that this is a dramatically reduced scope, we will need to revisit the scope for the cleanup. So it is recommended we not award the bid for cleanup at this time."

Channel 6 News reporter Andrew Moore sat down with VLB Deputy director Matt Elledge in Austin the next day to discuss the project delays.

Elledge said the board would send out a new RFP as soon as possible and hold a special meeting before the next regularly scheduled meeting to approve a contractor for the work as quickly as possible. 

"When we have a special meeting we'll be able to move forward." Elledge said. "We will make a recommendation. The board is ready. We just want to make sure that we are doing this in the most cost effective and efficient way to get these tires off the property."

Elledge told Channel 6 the VLB would have and undated job posting up around November 16, and would select another contractor soon after. Elledge said the board would most likely meet again in early January and approve a contractor so the work could start. 

Channel 6 News will continue to follow the story until the work is complete. 

© 2017 KCEN-TV


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