Mainscape lives to mow another day.

In a dramatic turn of events at the Board of Supervisors meeting of the Gateway Services Community Development District on January 22, 2015, the board has tossed out all remaining bids for the lucrative Gateway Exterior Landscape Maintenance contract.

The board was supposed to award this contract late last year but had delayed the process so they could better evaluate the bidders. Now that the board has suddenly rejected all of the bids it’s not clear when the contract will be awarded.

Heading in to today’s meeting, Tampa-based Luke Brothers Landscape Services had the full support of the GSCDD’s management staff and were also the lowest bidder at a total of $2.52 million over three years (nearly $300,000 less than Mainscape).

For those who are unfamiliar with how Gateway’s government is structured: the Board of Supervisors is a group of 5 elected representatives who oversee and direct the management staff. The staff does most of the leg-work and makes recommendations, but the board has final say on all matters.

As part of the selection process the GSCDD specifically asked any companies that wanted to submit a bid to become Gateway’s new landscaper to list all major contracts they’ve had in the past 5 years with other CDDs and include whether or not they still had each contract. In a stunning paperwork error, it was discovered that Luke Brothers did not list that they had lost two major clients in recent years on their bid questionnaire.

“That’s definitely an oversight,” understated Peter Lucadano, President of Luke Brothers.

It was already known that Luke had lost The Brooks CDD (Bonita Springs, FL) landscaping contract, but the fact they hadn’t disclosed it in their bid package didn’t sit well with some members of the board. Supervisor Rod Senior openly blasted Luke Brothers’ representatives for the omission.

Making matters worse for Luke, Gateway District Council Anthony Pires Jr. followed up by adding that Luke had also lost a contract with Harmony Community Development District (Harmony, FL) and Pires said that wasn’t on Luke’s bid paperwork either.

The board seemed completely unaware Luke had lost the Harmony CDD contract until Pires brought it up at today’s meeting.

From that point on Senior repeatedly spoke as though sticking with Mainscape might be the best option for Gateway. Senior mentioned that there’s a lot of road work and other projects being done in the community in 2015 and that despite Mainscape’s performance – which he rated a 6 out of 10 – perhaps keeping “the devil we know,” as Senior called them, might be the thing to do.

At that point all of the momentum shifted toward Mainscape getting another chance from the GSCDD as the discussion continued. Talks went on about how Mainscape could improve the over-all look in Gateway, adding plants with different colors and working with the newly formed Landscape Advisory Committee in Gateway that will be responsible for advising the board on landscaping issues.

Just when all seemed lost for Luke Brothers, Gateway District Manager Calvin Teague spoke up and pointed out that Mainscape themselves had not listed that they lost a contract with Heritage Oak Park CDD in Charlotte County (Florida) in their bid package.

Mainscape had made the same glaring error that Luke Brothers did.

Not long after Teague’s statement, Senior made a motion to reject all of the bids and start the entire process over. Supervisor Gary Neubauer seconded the motion, which led to a 5-0 vote by the board.

Mainscape has been Gateway’s landscaper for the past six years and are expected to perform landscaping duties here until March 31, 2015.

Thanks to a paperwork error by Luke Brothers in the bidding process, Mainscape will have a chance to keep doing it for much longer than that.

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

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