Update to the Bethel Comprehensive Plan for the City of Bethel, Alaska

City of Bethel

I. Introduction

The City of Bethel, Alaska is soliciting a qualified consulting firm to submit a proposal to update the City's Comprehensive Plan. The City desires to have a well organized and detailed action plan that is user friendly, and workbooks to assist in the implementation of the Plan. The City last updated its Comprehensive Plan in 1997, and while it is considered the basis for all land use decisions in the City, some revision of both policies and land uses is needed. The Plan calls for an "overall update" every five years, which should be a "thorough re-evaluation of the entire plan, including goals, objectives and strategies, updates of projections and land uses and area service capabilities." Bethel is located in an area of slow growth coming from area villages, and many regional conditions have changed since the current Plan was adopted. The City is working with Orutsararmuit Native Council (ONC) is nearing completion Transportation Master Plan, and two project-specific amendments to its Comprehensive Plan.

The following Request for Proposal (RFP) provides a brief description of the City, scope of work, submittal requirements, and criteria to be used to evaluate submittals. Full funding for this project is provided through City of Bethel.

II. Description of Bethel

The City of Bethel is located alongside the Kuskokwim River, the second largest river in Alaska. Isolated from the road network of Alaska, the city is four hundred air miles from Anchorage and forty air miles from the Bering Sea. The City encompasses approximately 44 square miles in Southwest Alaska, including six miles of Kuskokwim River that encompasses 21 miles of shoreline due to islands and river bank formations. The Kuskokwim River becomes a frozen road in the winter, connecting Bethel to many villages along the river.

The average annual snowfall in Bethel is 53 inches. The average annual precipitation is 16 inches. The mean summer temperature is 53°F and fluctuates between 42°F and 62°F. The mean winter temperature is 11° and fluctuates between -2°F and 19°F (Bethel Chamber of Commerce brochure, Attachment C).

Bethel is located in treeless sub-arctic tundra that remains moist in the summertime and frozen in the wintertime. The land in and around Bethel is almost completely permafrost, except for some land surrounding lakes and ponds.

Bethel's cold temperatures make it difficult for decomposition to occur. Bob Gorman, instructor with the Cooperative Extension Service at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said that it must be above 50 degrees Fahrenheit for decomposition to occur. Slow decomposition at the landfill means that the limited landfill space available is being used up faster than if it were in a non-permafrost area that experienced warmer temperatures.

The City of Bethel was incorporated in 1957 while Alaska was still a territory and has since evolved to become a second-class city with a Council-Manager form of government. The seven elected City Council members hire and direct the City Manager, who oversees nine departments: Administration, Finance, Fire, Police, Port, Planning, Parks and Recreation, Technology, and Public Works. Bethel is a municipal government in the unorganized borough area of western Alaska and contains no other cities within its boundaries.

The Bethel City Council passes its annual budget by June 15 for the following fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30.
Bethel is the eighth largest town in Alaska with a population of 5,665 (Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development, 2009). For cities, businesses, and individuals living in the 56 villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region, Bethel is the major source for government, education, transportation, and health services, as well as a major shopping center for food, equipment, clothing, and other products. According to the Bethel Chamber of Commerce, the number of people in Bethel on a given day could be 6,400 or higher.

The average annual rate of increase for Bethel's population between 1990 and 2000 was 1.6% (U.S. Census 1990; U.S. Census 2000). The Alaska Department of Labor reported that the rate of increase in Bethel's population in 2009 was has increased. As Bethel's population continues to increase, it puts a severe strain on the City's ability to handle the amount of solid waste (nearly 20 tons per day) and sewer waste generated in Bethel.

III. Scope of Work

Land use in Bethel is governed by the Comprehensive Plan, and the chapters in the City's Municipal Code which govern land use (primarily Zoning, Subdivision, and Code Violations). The City of Bethel adopts "Baseline Standards", which establish design standards for lighting, height, setbacks, signage, and streets. There are no other specific documents that regulate development.

The scope of this project is to create a detailed Comprehensive Plan document that will act as a blueprint to direct the future growth and development of the City, workbooks to facilitate implementation of the plan, and reviewing the current land use code to make recommendations for implementation of the Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan should integrate all of the City's existing plans and documents, detail current community goals and objectives, provide implementation actions, provide recommendations for the future and include illustrative maps, tables and graphics.

Elements of the Comprehensive Plan will include, but not be limited to, the following:
a. Land Use Map (Existing and projected uses)
b. Assessment of needs and opportunities
c. Neighborhood and City-wide goals, policies and strategies, including, but not limited to:
•Growth
•Mix of housing types
•Land Use
•Regional influences
•Economic development
•Transportation (Master Plan in progress)
•Public improvements and infrastructure - parks, open space, and recreation
•Flood plains
•Environmental resources and hazards (particularly energy and Port impacts)
d. Land Use location criteria
e. Public facilities site specifications and location criteria

The workbook will include, but not be limited to, the following:
a. Description of how to use the workbook
b. Review procedures for proposals that deal with all elements of the Comprehensive Plan
c. Review criteria for the different types of proposals;
d. Reference information that provides the user of the workbook easy reference to individual
sections in the Comprehensive Plan, and implementation documents that pertain to goals,
policies and procedures
e. A list of questions to help the City in the evaluation of a development proposal and its
impacts on the City and its relationship to the Comprehensive Plan.

The Land Use Code review should include but not be limited to: annexation of Native Lands, subdivision and zoning sections of the Bethel Municipal Code, development standards, the City's vested rights and open space ordinances, and subsistence living elements to match the goals of the new Comprehensive Plan.

Recommendations for adaptation of the State's Model Land Use Code would be helpful.
Plan presentations, public hearings and workshops will be scheduled during the Plan's development. The purpose of these meetings will be to present progress updates; to receive citizen, elected official and staff comments; to present the final draft report and ancillary materials to the Planning Commission and City Council. Presentations will include, but not be limited to the following:

General Workshops for the citizens and property owners (1-3)
Informal workshops/presentations to Planning Commission and City Council (2-3)
Formal Planning Commission public hearing (1)
Formal City Council public hearing (1)
Products will include:
•50 copies of the final Comprehensive Plan, including maps
•50 copies of an executive summary
•25 copies of the Workbook
•Five copies of the Land Use Code
•All documents in electronic format, text in MS Word 2007.

IV. Submittal Requirements

Proposals should be submitted in two parts. The first will deal with the substance of the proposal, and the second will be the cost analysis for the project. Costs must be listed in detail, i.e., itemizing each component of the work program, as well as hourly rates, travel, meetings, etc.
Tasks can be itemized as "optional" and bid independently to allow flexibility in fee. The proposal should clearly state what is received for the fee quoted. The budget for the project is estimated at $80,000.

Please submit 12 copies of Part 1, and one copy of Part 2. Both are to be submitted, in paper format, by December 11, 2009 at 4 pm. No fax or electronic proposals will be accepted.
A selection committee of staff, Planning Commission members and City Council members will interview finalists in early January 2010, with City Council approving a contract at its meeting of January 26, 2010.

The City of Bethel reserves the right to reject any and all proposals. All costs, including travel and expenses, incurred in the preparation of this proposal shall be borne by the proposing firm. All work product, whether electronic or in hard copy, will remain the property of the City of Dacono, and will be provided to the City upon completion of the contract or upon request.

Proposals should include:
a. Executive Summary--Provide an overview of the significant features of the proposal.
b. General Information--Provide the contact person, company name, address, telephone number,
and other general information you believe to be relevant.
c. Philosophical approach--Describe your approach to providing the proposed services, to give
the City the opportunity to understand your approach to the process and the product.
d. Services--Discuss which services are to be provided under the proposal, and which services,
if any, are specifically excluded.
e. Timeline--Include completion milestones for each step of the work program, estimated dates
for public participation, etc.
f. Experience--discuss the experience you or your firm has in similar projects, particularly in
small Alaska Native communities. Include references and project descriptions.
g. Organization and staffing plan--describe how you will organize the personnel, identify the
people who will actually be doing the work, and whether they are employees or subcontractors.
h. City-provided materials--describe what, if anything, the City is expected to provide, including
office space, records, or other tangible or intangible support items.

V. Criteria for Evaluation of Proposals
Each of the three criteria listed below are equally weighted in their importance in evaluating the proposals.

Quality and successful completion of similar Comprehensive Plans.
Comprehensive Plan experience of a similar nature and at a similar scope will be viewed
favorably. The commitment to quality as evidenced by previous Plans and client satisfaction will
be considered.

Discussion of approach.
The clarity of responsibilities, the ability to work with the City's staff, elected officials, and
citizens, the proven problem-solving ability of the team, and its demonstrated creativity are key
factors in the selection of a team. Each of the elements listed above should be addressed in the
proposal.

Time commitment and cost of the master plan.
The City is interested in the level of dedication and commitment of the team and furthermore a
guarantee that Bethel's Comprehensive Plan will be a priority project. The City will evaluate
costs based on quality, detail, time commitments and experience.

VI. Other Information
The contact for the City of Bethel is Daniel J. Shea, Planning Director.

Send proposals to:
Mailing Address: PO Box 1388 Bethel, Alaska 99559-1388
Telephone: 907-543-5301
Fax: 907-543-2046

If you would like a copy of the current Comprehensive Plan, please go to City of Bethel Planning Department website www.cityofbethel.org.

Published on:
October 14, 2009 - 4:38pm
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