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Managers for Airport Expansion Selected

October 30, 1985|JOHN NEEDHAM | Times Staff Writer

Amid heavy lobbying that continued until minutes before the vote, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday chose a three-company joint venture to manage the expansion of John Wayne Airport, the most expensive project ever planned by Orange County.

The supervisors voted 3 to 2 in favor of HPV, a joint venture of Holmes and Narver Inc. of Orange; Ralph M. Parsons Co. of Pasadena, and Van Dell and Associates of Irvine.

In its winning bid, HPV retained lobbyists who are engaged or married to staff members of Supervisors Bruce Nestande and Harriett Wieder, both of whom voted for the joint venture, according to supervisorial aides.

Supervisor Thomas F. Riley said the estimated cost of the project is $190 million, giving it "the distinction of being the largest (project) ever undertaken by the County of Orange."

New Terminal

The main features of the airport expansion will include construction of a new 337,000-square-foot terminal, an 8,400-vehicle parking structure, 14 parking positions for aircraft and improvements to taxiways and aprons.

County officials still must negotiate the final contract with HPV and determine how much the company will be paid. The likely contract could range from $5 million to $10 million, according to some officials.

Sixteen firms filed written proposals to manage the airport expansion, and three were picked as finalists. The supervisors, who said all three finalists are qualified to do the job, had been heavily lobbied for months by companies wanting to manage the airport expansion.

Among the proponents of HPV was Randy Smith, a Van Dell and Associates vice president and fiance of Jeanne Reinhardt, who is an aide to Nestande.

Also lobbying for HPV was Ruby Wood, who is married to Brion May, an aide to Wieder, according to aides to other supervisors.

However, Smith and Wieder aide George Rebella denied that Wood has been lobbying for HPV. Wood could not be reached for comment.

Under county law, it is not illegal for the spouse of an aide to a supervisor to lobby before the board.

Nestande and Wieder voted for HPV, as did Supervisor Roger Stanton. Riley and Supervisor Ralph B. Clark supported a bid by PRC Engineering of Orange, in association with TRA Airport Consultants of Seattle. The third finalist was a joint venture led by Bechtel Group Inc., which got no votes.

Nestande said Smith's employment with Van Dell and his relationship with his staff aide Reinhardt played no part in his vote.

"Randy's a professional and he's a professional on Van Dell's staff," Nestande said after the vote. "Jeannie doesn't handle this (airport issue). I don't discuss it with her. Jeannie handles health care."

"I'm not going to punish people or favor them because of relationships like that," the supervisor said, adding that Reinhardt "doesn't get involved in issues that Randy's involved in."

Firm Ranked High

Nestande also said that the Parsons company was the lead firm on the project, and in the field of airport construction "Parsons is ranked No. 1 by various measurements."

One of the losing firms, PRC, donated $450 to Nestande last April and donated $750 to Stanton in 1983, according to campaign finance records.

The amounts are well below the $1,534 limit on donations that supervisors can receive from a contributor before county law requires them to abstain from voting on an issue affecting that contributor.

Wieder said during the board discussion that "I came down here this morning not having made my mind up between the two firms mentioned," HPV and PRC Engineering, and waited to hear the other supervisors' reasoning on the vote.

She said the "emphasis that HPV has placed on community relations" swayed her to support the company.

The community relations issue ranked high among supervisors because of the lengthy controversy over airport expansion. Years of lawsuits and complaints about noise generated by the airport forced the supervisors earlier this year to scale down the expansion originally planned.

Construction is expected to begin in two years and will be finished no earlier than 1990.

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