This is why the Supervisors get paid the big bucks.

(Or at least why they get to sit in the nice chairs. They definitely do not get paid enough to do what they do for Gateway.)

At the next meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the Gateway Services Community Development District on March 19, 2015, a decision will finally be made on who Gateway’s main landscaper will be for the next three years.

Hopefully.

Earlier this year the Supervisors appeared set to award the Gateway Exterior Landscape Maintenance contract, however the entire process had to be restarted after both of the finalists’ bids were tossed out due to serious paperwork errors by the bidders.

The two finalists back then were Luke Brothers and Mainscape.

It appears that this time around will be no different and that out of the seven bidders it will once again come down to Mainscape and Luke Brothers. Mainscape has been Gateway’s landscaper for the past 6 years.

The Supervisors had asked that the newly formed Roadway Landscaping Advisory Committee be directly involved in the bidding process. The committee is made up of Gateway residents who are tasked with making recommendations that will improve the over-all look of the community.

At the committee’s last meeting on March 10, 2015, they reviewed the seven submissions and made a motion to recommend that either Luke Brothers or Mainscape be awarded the contract..

But what happened after that is what makes this situation interesting.

The committee’s original intent on selecting the two finalists was to do most of the leg work for the Supervisors, so that that the Supervisors would only have to spend time focusing on the best two bids instead of all seven.

But then the committee took it a step further and made a second motion to recommend that the Supervisors award the contract to Mainscape.

The issue with that? Mainscape’s bid will cost Gateway residents nearly $105,000 more than the Luke Brothers’ bid over the three years of the contact.

Luke Brothers bid came in at a total of $2,526,455.00 for three years, while Maincape’s bid was $2,631,209.52 over the same three year period.

So now the Supervisors have a decision to make.

On one side we have a board that is trying to figure out how to finance $4 million worth of lake bank erosion repairs, so how would they justify spending an extra $105,000 when they’re saying Gateway already doesn’t have enough money for other projects?

The other side is that the Roadway Landscaping Advisory Committee obviously had their reasons for making their recommendation to keep Mainscape. They’re the people – our neighbors – who have spent the most amount of time going through all the bids and looking over the paperwork.

According to committee member Delores Linscott, one of the reasons came down to the irrigation system.

“It is very hard to learn where all the heads and valves are in a place as big as Gateway, and of course Mainscape already does know where all the heads and valves are located,” said Linscott.

Linscott also told the Sun that the Mainscape recommendation was not unanimous at first, but that someone on the committee made the point that “it is better to deal with the devil you know versus the one you do don’t know.”

So will the Supervisors select the lowest bid from Luke Brothers, or will they back the Roadway Landscape Advisory Committee’s recommendation of Mainscape?

It’s also possible the Supervisors could select one of the other five bidders, but that seems unlikely at this point. The other five companies that submitted bids were: Personal Touch, Girard, Davey Tree, Estate Landscaping and Trugreen.

Both Luke Brothers and Mainscape are very large landscaping firms and are easily qualified to do the work and meet Gateway’s needs. So now the board must decide whether to trust the committee or base their decision on financial considerations.

Had the committee recommended Luke Brothers, it seems most likely that the board would have simply given them the contract since they were the lowest bidder anyway.

The Supervisors will likely vote who to award the contract to at the GSCDD board meeting this coming Thursday. It will be interesting to see what the Supervisors decide to do.

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

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