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CDD Makes Headway in Bid Awards for Parks Renovation Project

The Jan. 5 meeting of the Westchase CDD saw significant headway made in the district’s upcoming refurbishment of Westchase parks.

At the three hour meeting, supervisors debated at length the best approach to selecting contractors for the work before unanimously voting to award the park equipment installation at the three parks to three different contractors. Doing so, they stated, would ensure a variety of play equipment styles and options for Westchase families.

None of the three was offering a volume discount for work at more than one park.

The Community Development District’s (CDD) capital improvement project, currently estimated at $1.6 million, aims to rehabilitate Baybridge and Glencliff Parks while addressing the West Park Village splash pad on Montague Street, which has never functioned as originally envisioned. To enhance the West Park Village area, the plan also envisions a small playground for tots built adjacent to the refurbished splashpad.

Supervisors began sifting through the bidders by interviewing their park plan developer, Stantec’s Neal Stralow, and CDD staffers Doug Mays and Sonny Whyte, who gathered bids and interviewed contractors. When supervisors asked which contractor of the nearly half dozen bidders they supported, Mays explained that each favored a different. Among the three, some individuals were more swayed by bid numbers and others by aesthetic considerations of the play equipment.

Stralow added that all the bidders failed to include in their scopes of work all the items required by the district. This meant that once the contractors were selected, staff would have to correct discrepancies with the contractors and firm up numbers. “Each of these bids is going to take work,” Stralow observed.

Supervisors also spent time debating the best approach to tackling the parks plan, with initial support coming from Chair Mark Ragusa and Supervisor Jim Mills for hiring a general contractor to oversee all the work. As discussion continued, supervisors, however, appeared to move toward permitting Stralow and CDD staff to serve the role of project managers while insisting contractors pull their own permits.

While supervisors debated the bidders’ various numbers and experience with playground or restroom work, Stralow ultimately suggested that because bidders all used proprietary park equipment, the best way to proceed would be for supervisors to identify which park equipment they most favored – and then finalize the bid with that contractor. Upon reviewing bid illustrations of different park equipment from four different vendors, supervisors, however, liked aspects of each.

Ultimately a suggestion by Supervisor Brian Ross broke the logjam. He suggested the district offer an array of different styles to residents by picking a different vendor for each park. Supervisors then voted unanimously to support Ragusa’s motion to finalize bids with three different contractors for work grading the parks and installing equipment. REP will be asked the new West Park Village splashpad’s playground, which featured a more metallic, pipe-style approach to equipment and which offered the lowest bid. APARK, which supplies equipment similar to current wood and plastic equipment at Baybridge and Glencliff Parks, was selected to redo Baybridge Park. And Dynamo, whose equipment is the most contemporary looking and expensive of the three and which featured rope-climbing options, was selected for Glencliff Park.

Commented Stralow, “I think the recommendations are good ones. It gives some variety.”

Staff also committed to bringing the individual contractors with the finalized bid numbers and park equipment proposals to February’s CDD meeting.

In the midst of their discussion regarding the park equipment, supervisors paused to make their easiest decision of the night: selection of the contractor for refurbishing the West Park Village splashpad near the bandshell. While Ragusa made one last pitch to remove its refurbishment from the project, his sentiment received no other support. Supervisors then unanimously accepted their long postponed $165,000 bid from Florida Playstructures for the job.

To complete the entire capital improvement project, supervisors will have to award a number of additional contracts covering such things as park restroom renovation, security camera installations, field re-grading and re-sodding, and the relocation of Glencliff Park’s basketball courts to the southern edge of the park. Supervisors briefly discussed security cameras and whether to offer free WiFi at the park and asked staff to return with clear cost estimates for doing so after exploring whether they can convince BrightHouse to install a hotspot in both locations.

In other news:

CDD Engineer Tonya Stewart stated that she would be meeting on Jan. 7 with the contractor hired to address pond bank erosion repairs to a pond in The Bridges. Work there, she stated, would begin soon after.

Supervisors briefly reviewed an M/I Homes request that the district accept ownership of a large retention pond lying between M/I Homes’ planned townhomes community (accessed off Sheldon Road) and Sturbridge and Stockbridge. CDD Engineer Tonya Stewart stated there was some confusion regarding zoning conditions for fences around the lake. Meanwhile, Field Manager Doug Mays stated that the district’s aquatics company estimated the lake would require an initial cleanup running $2,800 before costing the district roughly $1,800 in annual maintenance. While supervisors appear unanimous in their support for accepting ownership because of the lake’s potential impact on the two Westchase neighborhoods, they asked staff to clarify its zoning conditions and follow up on Supervisor Brian Ross’ request that M/I Homes turn the lake over in acceptable condition, thus saving the district the $2,800.

Supervisors again briefly discussed hiring either their management company, Severn Trent, or Fishkind and Associates, to update their current assessment methodology. They requested that District Manager Andy Mendenhall, who brought Severn Trent bids of $15,625 for partial updates and $31,250 for a comprehensive update, inquire what Fishkind’s $20,000 bid covered – a comprehensive or partial update.

Supervisors unanimously voted to hire current CDD Attorney Erin McCormick as district counsel after she informed them that she was departing her original firm, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, and establishing an independent firm.  McCormick estimated that has represented the district for more than two decades and would likely charge an hourly rate that was roughly 70 percent of her current rate.

Supervisors voted 3-2, with Supervisors Bob Argus and Ross opposed, for a motion to take no action on a county inquiry regarding whether the district had any objection to the closing of Montague Street in West Park Village for a fundraising run for a candidate of the Westchase Charitable Foundation’s Woman of the Year campaign.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

Posted 8 January 2016

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