RPB Privatizes Some Landscaping In Planning For Park

Royal Palm Beach is considering hiring a private landscaping firm to maintain eight of its more passive parks and move current maintenance staff to jobs tending the new Royal Palm Beach Commons Park when it opens.

The change, which was slated for consent agenda approval by the Royal Palm Beach Village Council this Thursday, will save the village an estimated $100,000 a year. That will absorb a large chunk of the estimated $500,000 annual maintenance cost for the new 160-acre park set to open this summer.

Where to find money for maintenance of the new park has been a challenge for RPB officials, who have been hard-pressed to keep up with existing parks because of cutbacks due to declining revenues.

“We put out a bid for the maintenance of eight parks,” Parks & Recreation Director Lou Recchio said. “They’re passive parks. They’re small, neighborhood parks with no athletic facilities or anything. Instead of hiring more staff, we will be redirecting staff from one area and bringing them over to Commons Park. As a result, we’re going to save around $100,000 a year, maybe a little more.”

Recchio said there was no way his existing staff could have taken on maintenance of the new park with its existing personnel and provide the same level of service.

He added that the existing staff has skills that will be valuable for the special needs of the new park.

“The staff going over to Commons Park are experienced in dealing with that type of foliage,” Recchio explained. “We have a driving range and golf practice areas, and we have people who are experienced at maintaining that type of turf because they’ve been working with the athletic facilities.”

He noted that the golf practice greens must be cut every day. “It’s not the expense of the grass itself,” Recchio said. “It’s the expense of maintaining it. We have those staff on board who will be able to pick that up.”

The recommended bidder for the eight passive parks is L.V. Superior Landscaping with a bid of $41,755. Bids ranged from a low of $33,140, which was thrown out, to a high of $104,320.

Village Manager Ray Liggins said hiring the private firm will go a long way toward resolving the Commons Park maintenance conundrum.

“In last year’s budget, we knew we were going to be bringing Commons Park on this year,” Liggins said. “In doing that, we knew we had a choice of adding employees to our payroll or bidding out some work that our employees are doing and transferring those employees over to the new park, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We took eight parks that can be maintained with standard equipment — mowers, edgers, weed-eaters — and put it out to bid, and we got some very competitive bids.”

Liggins said Superior Landscaping is a reputable firm that already does work for Palm Beach County at fire stations.