Mainscape is here to stay. For at least 30 days anyway.

At the March 19, 2015 meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the Gateway Services Community Development District, Mainscape was awarded a three year contract to continue as the community’s landscaper, however the Supervisors wanted a 30 day termination clause in the contract.

Gateway’s lawyer, Anthony Pires Jr., explained that there were several termination clauses in the contracts with Mainscape – some with cause, some without cause – but ultimately Pires agreed that the GSCDD would be able to fire Mainscape with one month’s notice.

The hesitation to pop the champagne and celebrate with Mainscape was for two reasons: first, few people have been impressed with Mainscape’s performance as a landscaper of late, and second because Mainscape’s bid was $104,752.48 higher than their main competition for the contract, Luke Brothers.

The case for Mainscape was made by the Chairman of the newly formed Roadway Landcape Advisory Committee, Paul Wingard.

Before Wingard could even begin speaking, Supervisor Gary Neubauer asked the obvious question.

“Tell me where $103,000 is the right choice? Because that’s the bottom line here. Scott [Connell, Operations Manager] said that they’re the most responsible. Show me that they’re $103,000 more responsible than the lowest bidder,” Neubauer said.

(The print size in the document generated by the GSCDD made it very hard to read. There’s a 6 that looks like an 8 so that’s probably the reason Neubauer arrived at $103,000. We had to use software to zoom in on the document to make our calculation.)

Responded Wingard: “The district staff had done some due diligence on the first bid as well as the re-bid, so we got a presentation from Scott [Connell] and from Elle [Harris, Natural Resources Supervisor] as to what they had found in checking references and that sort of thing. Then we moved forward with the discussion. The first motion that was made by the committee, we kind of went through a process of elimination. We actually recommended two firms, Luke Brothers and Mainscape. And kind of ranked them as being somewhat equal and were going to provide that to the board as our recommendation and let the board ultimately make the decision between those two. We then had some further discussion because I don’t really think that’s what the board was looking for. They were looking for one. So the motion was made by the committee and seconded and approved and whatever to recommend to you Mainscape. The primary reason being, the amount of money, the $103,000 that you [Neubauer] mentioned is over a three year period, it’s really less if you look at it year by year by year, that it was a relatively small amount of money and with the potential for extras and other things that the landscape firm would have to do, the dollar amount was extremely close at the end of the year – was our assumption – was actually about 4% as it was bid. There are other things that get in to that.”

Neubauer interjected, asking “Like?”

“I hafta, I don’t have the package in front of me so I can’t tell you, but doing repair work that’s not part of the contract, there’s some other things that would be considered extras I guess. But the primary reason that we were recommending Mainscape is because of their knowledge. We felt that with the committee being new to this that it would be more beneficial to the community as a whole if we went with somebody that had some history and knowledge,” said Wingard.

After some discussion where Neubauer and Supervisor Rod Senior complained about everything ranging from Mainscape’s debt-laden finances to a Mainscape employee  with a distinct hat who routinely tears up the grass on Griffin Drive while driving his Gator vehicle, the Supervisors ultimately decided to back the Landscape Committee’s recommendation and keep Mainscape.

Immediately following the unanimous 4-0 vote (Supervisor Pam Gill was not at the meeting), Chairman William Guy commented, “I must say that it was with some anguish that I voted in favor of this. I don’t like spending money needlessly. But on the other hand, thanks to Mr. Senior and our advisory committee we made an informed decision. Thank you all for that.”

Before the board moved on to the next topic on the agenda, Senior summoned Mainscape Manager Matt Laboda to the podium and warned him.

“I just wanna say something to you personally. Well done for getting the contract. As far as I’m concerned it’s a question of stepping up to the plate. And, you know, that’s why I asked the question about 30 days termination because I’m quite serious about it. You either come with us for the ride or you’re not gonna last,” said Senior.

Some Gateway residents will be frustrated with the Supervisors’ decision. But at least the GSCDD will have the ability to replace Mainscape if they do not improve their performance going forward.

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

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