Gateway Sun

At tomorrow’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the Gateway Services Community Development District, two important decisions will be made by our community leaders.

The first one should be relatively simple, at least for most boards.

By now you know that several companies who bid on Phase 2 pond repairs had mistakes in their paperwork, prompting automatic disqualification of their erroneous bids and leaving the district with only one valid bidder for each pond contract.

That means the Supervisors must decide between tossing all of the bids out, or awarding the contracts to the lone company whose bids were valid.

But as the GSCDD staff noted, they are “not comfortable” proceeding when they essentially only have one bidder. Nor should they be, given that this is a multi-million dollar government deal we’re talking about.

Look for the Supervisors to toss the bids. You would hope.

The more interesting thing to watch will be what the board decides to do next about Phase 2 and the direction of the pond repair project in general.

But before the Supervisors make that decision… I would like to introduce them to the Walnut Creek Community Development District in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

Walnut Creek just happens to have erosion and slope problems in 10 of their own ponds, all of which are comparable in size to the ponds found in Gateway.

So in January 2018, work began on the Walnut Creek Lake Bank Restoration Project.

And wouldn’t you know it? Walnut Creek is within the South Florida Water Management District just like Gateway is. And just like the Gateway CDD, the Walnut Creek CDD has implemented this project with the specific goal of being in compliance SFWMD pond standards. It’s like we’re brothers!

Even though we have all of that in common, there is one key difference in our two communities’ pond projects. The cost.

So far, the GSCDD has corrected five ponds at a cost of $3,773,963.12 – or an average of $754,792 per pond. By the time all 64 ponds are done in Gateway, the estimated cost will be around $25,000,000.

In Walnut Creek, they recently awarded the contract to fix all 10 ponds to American Shoreline Restoration for $594,600. Total.

Not $594,600 each… or $594,600 for the first group…

$594,600 total. To fix all 10 ponds.

Now I’m sure Supervisor Ed Tinkle and Tetra Tech will have an extremely thorough explanation as to why Gateway’s repair technique is better (and I have no doubt that it is). After-all, Tinkle and Tetra Tech have decades of experience delivering these types of technical speeches to various boards, bosses and administrators – no doubt making the bureaucrats feel increasingly inexperienced and uneducated with every word they hear from the engineers.

On the other side of the coin… for the other four Supervisors, it’s almost certainly the first time they’ve ever had to consider pond slope ratios. So how could they possibly be in any position to challenge what Tinkle and Tetra Tech say is necessary? The best a Supervisor could ever hope for is that they don’t make fools of themselves, which is usually achieved through a strategy commonly known as “nodding and agreeing.”

But the other four board members will certainly recall that they’ve been told multiple times that Gateway’s Lake Bank Restoration Project was specifically to get in to compliance with the SFWMD. That’s the reason for spending the money.

Well now there’s another CDD also working as I type this to get in to compliance, except for only a fraction of the money being spent in Gateway. So why are we going to spend $25M when they spend less than $600k?

Yes, it’s true we have 64 ponds and they only have 10.

But it’s also true that they managed to find a way to fix their Pond 1, Pond 2, Pond 3, Pond 4, Pond 5, Pond 6, Pond 7, Pond 8, Pond 9 and Pond 10 for less than half of the $1,280,000 that Gateway spent on our Lake 116 alone.

This is the bottom-line question the Supervisors must ask themselves:

Is the priority to get Gateway in to compliance with the SFWMD? … Or is the priority to allow Tinkle to oversee the largest project in Gateway’s history while delivering barge-loads of assessment dollars to engineering companies?

Because as they have proved in Walnut Creek, Gateway can certainly achieve compliance for much less than $25,000,000.

break-line

That’s American Shoreline Restoration, folks. Located at 4521 PGA Blvd., Suite 134, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33418, and they can be reached at 1-888-753-7633.

Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either. But it’s all right there at walnutcreekcdd.org.

Now I don’t know anything about ASR aside from the Walnut Creek contract. And I’ve never contacted them.

But it seems like it would behoove the GSCDD to reach out to ASR and invite them to a future meeting to make a 10-minute presentation to explain what they’ve got going on in Walnut Creek. And how they’re able to get that community in to SFWMD compliance for a fraction of the cost that Gateway is planning to pay.

Couldn’t hurt, since SFWMD compliance is the ultimate goal.

On another note, during a phone call earlier this month Tinkle told the Gateway Sun that a community named Gulf Harbor also had a restoration project. One source contacted us to say it took place around 2013-14 and the total cost was approximately $1 million. (I have not been able to verify or debunk that information. And I have tried.)

So far it would seem that Gateway’s $25 million price tag is astronomical and unprecedented. However, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not an expert at massive scale pond restoration projects.

Then again, I’m not supposed to be an expert.

So I invite Tetra Tech – who are supposed to be experts – to present the Supervisors with a list of comparable pond repair projects in Florida that match or exceed Gateway’s in terms of over-all cost or cost per lineal foot.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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