Competitor protests winner of River Walk barge contract

The City of San Antonio is negotiating details of the $100 million deal that puts a new operator in charge of the River Walk barges, a group called Go Rio San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO - The City of San Antonio is negotiating details of the $100 million deal that puts a new operator in charge of the River Walk barges, a group called Go Rio San Antonio.

But a competitor is working to derail the deal.

A consultant for Buena Vista Barges filed a protest with the South Central Texas Regional Certification Agency.

Mitsuko Ramos claims Go Rio San Antonio falsely presented itself as a small, women, minority-owned business.

Hope Andrade and Lisa Wong own 51 percent of Go Rio, with Landry's taking the rest.

Buena Vista claims Go Rio's CEO Hope Andrade changed the business structure of Go Rio after being certified in order to get local points in the barge selection process.

Without those points, Ramos said Buena Vista would have finished second, ahead of Go Rio.

"When you have larger businesses come in and they partner with an individual who is a minority or has a small business enterprise, they do that just to get the points, so they can win a contract," Ramos said.

In a statement sent to KENS 5, Andrade said:

Since the Mayor and the Council overwhelming approved Go Rio to bring a new level of service to our River, our focus has been on the transition and planning for operations. We have scheduled a tour to Wisconsin to see the new barges and are working daily with City Staff on many other issues. The false allegations raised by the lobbyist for the third place team are red herrings and not supported by the facts. The personal attacks on GoRio and the City Council and staff are so baseless that we will not publicly comment on them.

Buena Vista Barges was created by local limo business owner George Mery and his family, along with a handful of young professionals.

"Everybody on this team, born and raised, educated, trained, experienced, all 100-percent local," Mery said.

"We proposed a lot of technology in this proposal, but we kept San Antonio culture within mind and we were able to do that as a San Antonio homegrown technology company," Fred Tawil, a partner of Swipetrack Solutions said.

Buena Vista Barges hopes the new city council, which will be determined after this weekend's runoff election, will take up this issue again and review all the proposals. 

They said if need be, they could be up and running within 10 days.

“City staff will continue to act based on the vote by City Council. However, we will monitor the SCTRCA challenge process. The City is not involved in the challenge, consequently, we are not in a position to comment on the merits of the challenge or to speculate on its potential outcome,” Lori Houston, Assistant City Manager said.
 
To review the proposal by Buena Vista Barges, click here.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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